Monday, January 14, 2008

to remember

83 of 86 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart book about the nature of beauty and desire, September 22, 1997
By (New York, New York) - See all my reviews
and the role of parental organizations in contemporary society.

Hickey's basic premise is that beauty is the agency of visual pleasure. This notion puts Hickey in opposition with a lot of art criticism which is largely concerned with how art is "good for you." Most theorists and scholars are primarily interested in what the art is "saying" -- i.e., interested in art's virtue and ethics but not with its efficacy.
Hickey, however, argues that it doesn't matter _what_ the movie is saying unless you like it first. That is, we don't analyze a movie unless we like it. I still don't know if Pulp Fiction, The Silence, or His Girl Friday are good for me, but because I like them, I constantly think about them and their social virtues (if any). Hickey argues that why a work is efficacious in the first place is as important (if not more so) than whether or not its good for you.
That's sort of the premise of the book. Hickey explores the reasons why "good for you" replaced "do I like it" and deals with the modern roles of institutions (with nods to Foucault and J. Jacobs) in relation to regulating desire.
Hickey's a wonderful writer. The prose is fast, vivid and jocose. Worthwhile for anyone interested in art or beauty.