Call for Submissions: Weak Aesthetics
These phenomena all fall into the category of contemporary aesthetics. What does it mean that these minor, or weak, aesthetics have proliferated throughout our modern lives? What does it mean that none of them have come to dominate our aesthetic landscape the way that older aesthetic categories like “the beautiful” or “the sublime” once did? Should we be Cyperpunk or Goblincore this month? Is the Coastal Grandmother lifestyle for you? Can you afford it?
There are strong materialist reasons why these contemporary categories function differently, but we want to know: What makes a particular aesthetic cohere as a category right now? What makes an aesthetic category successful? What and who are shallower aesthetic categories for?
“Aesthetics” is an expansive realm that encompasses everything from nature, to judgments about beauty, to style and genre. The contests that people have over aesthetics have links to various cultural debates, debates about politics, ethics, and history. Through these debates, we make class distinctions, mobilize public feeling for better and worse, and form community. These ideological battles have long lives that affect our material world and at least partially determine our place in it. For example: to paraphrase Walter Benjamin, fascism aestheticizes politics and communism responds by politicizing art.
While very grand theories can be made about the role of aesthetics, it is also possible to make more fine-grained or local claims about what our aesthetic categories mean. What might our theories describe in attending to these weaker categories? Are these structurally weak categories simply postmodern pastiche, born of a frantic economy churning out novel commodity goods? Or do they have a place in the critique of the culture that produced them?
Dilettante Army seeks scholarly writing for the Winter 2022 issue, Weak Aesthetics. Topics might include, but are not limited to: a theory of the Aesthetics Wiki, dandyism, nostalgia, common suffixes or families (-core, -punk, -wave), teens, neologisms, aesthetic failure, failed aesthetic categories, Normcore, Weirdcore, relationships between digital and analog aesthetics, the ugly, the disgusting, the charming, gendered and raced aesthetics, Frederic Jameson, Sianne Ngai, minor feelings, base and superstructure now, Horse Girls, Pierre Bourdieu, so five minutes ago, and Kant.
Image: Vaporwave or Cyberpunk image via CyberWare Tumblr