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Topic: Nyla Matuk

Experience as Concept: Shane Book’s Congotronic

In the 1990s, the pragmatist philosopher Richard Shusterman proposed an account of art-making and the reception of art as a function of our experiences. His was a more socially-informed inquiry than that of post-structuralism, which posited a constant flux of texts that remains open to changing language contexts or the interplay between a text and other texts. Shusterman theorized against such fragmentation, arguing that aesthetic unity could be a part of our experience of the aesthetic and offering a potent critique of ironic, distanced contemplation and conceptualist formal experimentation and play (often features of post-modern and post-structuralist aesthetics) in favour of art that encompasses social conditions, real life experiences and the emotive appeal of ordinary life.