By Russ Castronovo
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Extra info for Beautiful Democracy: Aesthetics and Anarchy in a Global Era
28 While Howells chooses a less programmatic approach than Riis, both writers act as social ecologists who look to ﬂowers, green space, and nature as pleasing alternatives to the rule of law. Riis’s call for a park practically implements aesthetic principles set out in a series of lectures given uptown from the capmaker’s home. Speaking at Columbia University during the fall term of 1894, Henry Rutgers Marshall theorized aesthetics as the grist that holds society together. ), back at the turn of the century Marshall’s voice did not waver when it came to assessing the desirability of aesthetics.
Outcomes that had seemingly put to rest lingering debates about what could have happened, in favor of what really did happen, might no longer appear so certain or ﬁnal. Thus the aesthetic theory that in chapter 1 creates proper civic subjects is haunted by specters of international revolution seen in chapter 2. With its chronology out of joint, this book implicitly contends that what we take as the outcomes of history are at best provisional. 40 Aesthetics, I have been arguing, wreak havoc on such predictability, whether in terms of how citizens are certain to act, what culture must mean, or the paths democracy is destined to take.
At the same time, ideas about “physiological aesthetics” and the “psychology of beauty” pointed to instinctual responses and creative principles through which groups of people might shape political interaction. This fundamental incongruity expressed itself across a wider set of cultural materials than academic papers and courses, leading to the other half of my archive. th e po pu l ar r age This other archive cannot be neatly summed up as though it were a college course or uniﬁed philosophical endeavor.