MAN'S RAGE FOR CHAOS by Morse Peckham


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In what may well be one of the most difficult books of the year, Professor Peckham attacks the fraudulent language of esthetics and establishes his own terminology based upon Behaviorism. Poetry, painting, music and architecture are reducible to ""signs, or a large variety of dramatic metaphors indicating how we should interpret when we see. Heretically, Peckham proposes that these sights belong in categories which cross-refer among the arts. The ""wild card"" Peckham introduces into this new semantics is the observation that art does not unify and order experience. We are seduced into the fallacy that art satisfies our need for order by the neat packaging in which art objects are presented in concert halls, museums, metrics and buildings. In poetry, Peckham illustrates, sweet disorder prevails and provokes; while order is mythical. Too often in the name of order we eliminate the very quality in a work of art which might expand our ability to perceive. Finally, the perception of art functions as a rehearsal for life... When the reader sheds the feeling that he is in Cloud Cuckoo Land, these ideas become stimulating and forcefully original. One is grateful to have the cobwebs swept out. His last book, Beyond The Tragic Vision, appeared in 1962 (Braziller).

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1965
Publisher: Chilton