Richard Wollheim grew up lonely and sad in London's wealthy suburbs during the 1920s and 1930s, yet his was a childhood more interesting than most. He had an impresario father and a “Gaiety Girl” mother; together they attracted important guests (Diaghilev, Kurt Weill, Serge Lifar) to the grand houses and hotels that punctuated the landscape of Wollheim's early years. Germs is his account of that time, of the years he spent adoring his charming but distant father; of his regret for (...) loathing his beautiful, mindless mother. Told in prose that with hypnotic ease moves from deadpan comedy to poignant loneliness, Germs is already a classic work of memoir. (shrink)
[Richard Wollheim] Any experiential view of pictorial meaning will assign to each painting an appropriate experience through which its mean can be recovered. When the meaning is representational, what is the nature of the appropriate experience? If there is agreement that the experience is to be described as seeing-in, disagreement breaks out about how seeing-in is to be understood. This paper challenges two recent interpretations: one in terms of perceived resemblance, the other in terms of imagining seeing. Neither view gives (...) a correct account of how the spectator distributes his attention between the marked surface and the represented object. /// [Robert Hopkins] I offer two, complementary, accounts of the visual nature of representational picturing. One, in terms of six features of depiction, sets an explanatory task. The other, in terms of the experience to which depiction gives rise, promises to meet that need. Elsewhere I have offered an account of this experience that allows this promise to be fulfilled. I sketch that view, and defend it against Wollheim's claim that it cannot meet certain demands on a satisfactory account. I then turn to Wollheim's own view, arguing that it suffers from crucial obscurities. These prevent it from meeting the explanatory commitments I describe, and are only exacerbated by the demands Wollheim himself imposes. (shrink)
Richard Wollheim is one of the dominant figures in the philosophy of art, whose work has shown not only how paintings create their effects but why they remain important to us. His influential writings have focused on two core, interrelated questions: How do paintings depict? and how do they express feelings? In this collection of new essays a distinguished group of thinkers in the fields of art history and philosophical aesthetics offers a critical assessment of Wollheim's theory of art. Among (...) the themes under discussion are Wollheim's explanation of pictorial representation in terms of seeing-in, his views of artistic expression as a type of complex projection, and his notion of the internal spectator. In the final essay Wollheim himself responds to the contributors. This book will be eagerly sought out by all serious students of the theory of art, whether in departments of philosophy or art history. (shrink)
Obscurity is not the worst failing, and it is philistinism to pretend that it is. In a series of brilliant essays written over the last fifteen years Stanley Cavell has consistently argued that more important than the question whether obscurity could have been avoided is whether it affects our confidence in the author. Confidence raises the issue of intention, and I would have thought that the primary commitment of a psychoanalytic writer was to pass on, and (if he can) to (...) refine while passing on, a particular way of exploring the mind. Indeed this is how Lacan himself proposes that his work should be judged. “The aim of my teaching,” he writes, “has been and still is the training of analysts.” For decades now Lacan has been insisting that the nature of this commitment has been systematically obscured, particularly in North America. Training has become “routinized”, and analysis itself has become distorted into a process of crude social adaptation. There is much here to agree with. Yet two questions must be raised. Has Lacan devised a more effective method of training analysts? And, would one expect this from his writings? Neither question gets a favourable answer. All reports of his training methods, over which he has now brought about three distinct secessions within the French psychoanalytic movement, are horrifying. 13 It is now, I am told, possible to become a Lacanian analyst after a very few months of Lacanian analysis. And what pedagogic contribution could we expect from a form of prose that has two salient characteristics: it exhibits the application of theory to particular cases as quite arbitrary, and it forces the adherents it gains into pastiche. 14 Lacan's ideas and Lacan's style, yoked in an indissoluble union, represent an invasive tyranny. And it is by a hideous irony that this tyranny should find its recruits among groups that have nothing in common except the sense that they lack a theory worthy of their cause or calling: feminists, cinéastes , professors of literature. Lacan himself offers several justifications for his obscurity, about which he has no false modesty. At times he says that he is the voice, the messenger, the porte-parole , of the unconscious itself. Lacan's claim stirs in my mind the retort Freud made to a similar assult upon his credulity and by someone who had learned from Lacan. “It is not the unconscious mind I look out for in your paintings,” Freud said to Salvador Dali, “it is the conscious.”. (shrink)
Philosophers are increasingly coming to recognize the importance of Freudian theory for the understanding of the mind. The picture Freud presents of the mind's growth and organization holds implications not just for such perennial questions as the relation of mind and body, the nature of memory and personal identity, the interplay of cognitive and affective processes in reasoning and acting, but also for the very way in which these questions are conceived and an interpretation of the mind is sought. This (...) volume of essays, by some of today's leading philosophers, explores all these topics, as well as the methods, results and status of the theory itself, while two 'classical' discussions by Wittgenstein and Sartre are also included. A number of the contributions – those by Donald Davidson, W. D. Hart, Jim Hopkins, Adam Morton, David Pears and Richard Wollheim – have not been published before, and a very useful bibliography is provided. It is an anthology that will be vital to anyone interested in Freudian theory and, more generally, in philosophical psychology. (shrink)
What defines a work of art and determines the way in which we respond to it? This classic reflection was written with the belief that the nature of art has to be understood simultaneously from the artist's as well as the spectator's viewpoint.