Gaining Perspectives on Our Lives: Moods and Aesthetic Experience

Philosophia 45 (4):1681-1695 (2017)
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Abstract

This article examines the role of moods in aesthetic experience by focussing on film. It considers specifically the function of moods in relation to narrative and aesthetic perspectives which a film provides and which recipients are invited to adopt. I distinguish superficial transitory moods from profound enduring ones. This differentiation is important with regard to the question why moods in film matter and why they are different from emotions. I will focus on Lars von Trier’s film “Melancholia” and claim that the moods of the leading characters can at one and the same time count as moods and perspectives on the world. Their moods are strongly connected to how they perceive their world, evaluate it, and “are” in the world. By being put into a mood that assails human beings holistically, viewers get acquainted with a perspective of a fictional character in an encompassing manner that includes mind and body. However, it will be discussed whether the viewers feel profound or superficial moods when engaging in the moods of the film and the characters and whether they are infatuated or can remain aesthetic distance.

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