Speaking of History

Alan Liu

in The Laws of Cool

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2004 | ISBN: 9780226486987
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226487007 | DOI:
Speaking of History

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The humanities stand to gain “cool” from the arts, while the arts might gain in return from the humanities a historical rationale for the new aesthetics (including “viral aesthetics”) currently struggling to emerge from the suffocating post-industrial credo of ceaseless, heedless creativity. The social, ethical, and aesthetic adequacy of the creative arts in the age of knowledge work seems to depend on acquiring such an aesthetic legitimation. What is socially redeeming about an art that resembles “cyberterrorism,” which in turn resembles “bioterrorism,” which itself is the “poor man's version” of nuclear terrorism, and so on up the scale of apocalypse in the contemporary logic of terrorism and counterterrorism? This chapter discusses the importance of an alliance between the arts and contemporary humanities to explain the legitimacy of the new aesthetic ideologies. It explains how, in the view of the contemporary humanities, history fundamentally transcodes creation as destruction, and vice versa. Finally, it examines the unique future of literature in the information age as well as the future of “literary history” and how it can contribute to the future literary.

Keywords: humanities; arts; history; future literary; information age; literary history; literature; cyberterrorism; viral aesthetics; cool

Chapter.  4758 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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