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Re: CNN: fossils as art?(long)



Dear Jane, 
If you, or anybody else, is really, truly interested in how the Western
artworld expanded to the point where even fossil tracks could be
interpreted as art objects, I'd be happy to exchange private emails. I
just chaired panels on the topic (minus the fossils-- we usually talk
about Warhol or John Cage) at the American Society for Aesthetics and at
the Modern Language Association.But private email would be best, because
I (in public, now) assure anyone interested it has nothing to do with
the fossils, and everything to do with the slow growth, since 1800, of a
Zen-like religious orientation called "Natural Supernaturalism" in the
Western avant-garde.If Wordsworth can celebrate a daffodil, and Warhol a
Brillo Box, hey, why not a fossil track? Familiar books on this artworld
tendency would be Arthur Danto's The Transfiguration of the Commonplace
(Cambridge: Harvard U. Press, 1981) or, immodestly, George Leonard's
Into the Light of Things: the Art of the Commonplace from Wordsworth to
John Cage (Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 1994). It's an interesting
topic-- and there's touches of Natural Supernatural awe in our list's
passionate contemplation of the dinosaurs apart from any possible use we
could put them to (one of the criteria by which, since Kant, we judge
contemplation to be "aesthetic.") It's great material for a side
conversation about aesthetics, but it's not dinosaur science.     
Sincerely,
George 
George J. Leonard, Ph.D.
Professor of Interdisciplinary Humanities
San Francisco State University
SF, CA 94132