ISBN: 978-1-509-51513-4 October 2017 Polity 120 Pages
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Beauty today is a paradox. The cult of beauty is ubiquitous but it has lost its transcendence and become little more than an aspect of consumerism, the aesthetic dimension of capitalism. The sublime and unsettling aspects of beauty have given way to corporeal pleasures and 'likes', resulting in a kind of 'pornography' of beauty.
In this book, cultural theorist Byung-Chul Han reinvigorates aesthetic theory for our digital age. He interrogates our preoccupation with all things slick and smooth, from Jeff Koon's sculptures and the iPhone to Brazilian waxing. Reaching far deeper than our superficial reactions to viral videos and memes, Han reclaims beauty, showing how it manifests itself as truth, temptation and even disaster.
This wide-ranging and profound exploration of beauty, encompassing ethical and political considerations as well as aesthetic, will appeal to all those interested in cultural and aesthetic theory, philosophy and digital media.
Table of contents
2. The Smooth Body
3. The Aesthetics of the Smooth
4. Digital Beauty
5. The Aesthetics of Veiling
6. The Aesthetics of Injury
7. The Aesthetics of Disaster
8. The Ideal of Beauty
9. Beauty as Truth
10. The Politics of Beauty
11. Pornographic Theatre
12. Lingering on Beauty
13. Beauty as Reminiscence
14. Giving Birth in Beauty
Karen Leeder, Oxford University
“Thrilling… a passionate and engaging read on a notion of beauty that has lost its standing in a digitized world.”