This book argues that a renewed consideration of artistic value should both critique contemporary bureaucratic misunderstandings of what art is and address the complexities and questions of contemporary philosophers in new and provocative ways. Writer and poet Ali Alizadeh focusses on the artistic theories of the key Western philosopher of value, Karl Marx. He explores Marx’s thoughts on art and literature and provides a new account of his revolutionary view of why we make art and how we understand art’s value.
By returning to Marx’s writings, from his juvenile poetry and earliest journalism to his final publications, Alizadeh proposes a theory which not only challenges many tenets of contemporary Marxist literary or cultural theory, but one which also presents us with a profound, coherent and stimulating theory of art that defines, values and demonstrates artistic practice. By mapping Marx’s intellectual development from the ideals of a young Hegelian to the polemics of a seasoned internationalist communist he shows that Marx never lost sight of art as a key aspect of human activity.
Introduction: Art – What Is It Good For?
Chapter 1: Art and Value Before Marx
Chapter 2: The Intrinsic Freedom of Writing
Chapter 3: Art, Speculation and Ideology
Chapter 4: Art and the Juggernaut of Capital
Chapter 5: Why We Make Art
Conclusion: What Is to Be Done (About Art)?
About the Author
Refreshingly clearly written and refreshingly practical in its focus on what artists can do with their art, it strips aside the cumulative weight of subsequent Marxist theorising and returns to the humanist core of the young Marx’s own work. For Alizadeh, art is neither a cultural commodity nor an ideological superstructure, but rather a model of unalienated labour. Highly recommended.
Ali Alizadeh is a Senior Lecturer in Literary Studies and Creative Writing at Monash University’s School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics. His books include collections of poems, Towards the End, Ashes in the Air and Eyes in Times of War; novels, The Last Days of Jeanne d’Arc, Transactions and The New Angel; and a work of literary non-fiction, Iran, My Grandfather. This is his first philosophical monograph.