Thursday, May 7, 2015

Is there an aesthetics of redemption?

Yes, I quite agree. That's one of my typically oddball questions.

If there's an aesthetics of crime, and my reading in the area so far indicates that there very much is (see, eg, critical works on Oscar Wilde by Simon Joyce), then surely there's an aesthetics of investigation and an aesthetics of redemption.
Such speculations about the Ripper's identity--and his presumed resemblance to other literary figures--suggest a renewed interest in crime as not only imaginative and aesthetic, but as the province of the privileged classes.... (Joyce 502-503)
By any modern measure, Errol Childress does not lead a privileged life. In fact, the interior of his home is in dramatic contrast to the homes of Hart--both the one he shares with his eventual ex-wife and later his apartment--and of Cohle. Childress may live on a family compound, but everything is in disrepair, dirty, cluttered, and likely many other things associated with poverty. He is both an owner of many possessions and an owner of nothing of value. Despite this, he is a member of a privileged class because of his blood relationship to the Tuttle family. He is protected by them, and perhaps even elevated through the cult. In True Detective, privilege is not limited to money or what are essentially middle-class values of thrift, industry, and moral rectitude.

Aesthetics. Αισθητική.

The work of the investigator is essentially restorative and preservative. With a successful investigation, the detective restores order and preserves the status quo. Interestingly, there is a corresponding set of values for design:
  1. Archaeological perspective: preserve history
  2. Artistic perspective: preserve the beautiful
  3. Social perspective: preserve the familiar
The investigator does all three of these as well. Via the investigation, he preserves the history of events. By investigating and resolving the investigation, he preserves the beautiful (there is also an argument that by codifying the investigation and cataloging evidence, the detective preserves the beauty of the crime and crime scene). By catching the criminal, he enables society to preserve what's familiar and rid itself of what is dangerous and unknown.

Yet the question has been asked: If a murder is artistically beautiful, can it exist outside of moral considerations? As an aside, this is essentially what Nietzsche asked us to do when he described things as being beyond good and evil.

The criminal and the investigator have competing aesthetic and artistic visions. The criminal sees his crime as a masterpiece and himself as an artist. The investigator sees himself as solving crimes as an artistic/intellectual pastime. The crime itself is only a masterpiece in the investigator's eyes if it reaches a certain level of aesthetics. Thus, the investigator is the critic, the criminal is the artist, and the crime/crime scene is the aesthetic scene.

Lots more to think about with regard to this.

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