Performing Live

Performing Live

Aesthetic Alternatives for the Ends of Art
Current philosophies of art remain sadly dominated by visions of its end and lamentations of decline. Defining the very notions of art and the aesthetic as special products of Western modernity, they suggest that postmodern challenges to traditional high culture pose a devastating danger to art's future. Richard Shusterman's new book cuts through the seductive confusions of these views by tracing the earthy roots of aesthetic experience and showing how the recent flourishing of aesthetic forms outside modernity's sacralized realm of fine art evince the persistent presence of an artistic impulse far deeper and more durable than the modernist moment.

Performing Live defends the abiding power of aesthetic experience by exploring its diverse roles, methods, and meanings, especially in fields marginal to traditional aesthetics but now most vibrantly alive in today's culture and new media. Ranging from rap, techno, and country music to cinema, cyberspace and urban design, Shusterman develops his radical theory of "somaesthetics," charting the complex network of bodily arts so prominent in contemporary life and self-styling. By blending concrete aesthetic analysis with insightful social critique, Shusterman, a well-known pragmatist philosopher, provides a rich menu and critical guide for today's pursuit of the art of living.