Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Buddhist Kitsch


Taiwanese aesthetics is remorselessly sentimental. The point seems to be to signal that we are in a shared space where there are shared feelings (the good old sensus communis). (According to some very good conversations I had with one of my hosts, Hannes Bergthaller, whose wife is Taiwanese.)

The hotel we stayed at in the mountains gave me a toy sheep, soft and cute, as a gift to say thank you for staying there.

The gift shop in the small town was a paradise for fathers of seven year old girls.

Buddhist shrines often have small statues of Snoopy, Buddha, Donald Duck, and Mazu in a row.

There is of course the Greenberg argument that kitsch is a mode of fascist aesthetics.

I disagree. I think kitsch is a symbol of shared weakness—it couldn't be less fascist if it tried.

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