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Title: Multitude of ecstatic butterflies : a glimpse of the sublime in kitsch
Authors: Białas, Zbigniew
Keywords: sublime
Issue Date: 1994
Publisher: Katowice : Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego
Citation: T. Rachwał, T. Sławek (red.), ""The most sublime act" : essays on the sublime" (S. 111-119). Katowice : Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego
Abstract: You can expect now a subversive essay on butterflies, a text fluttering with glimpses rather than conclusions. Let me start perversely with a question which I may/will probably be unable to answer. Is there an opposition to Sublimity in Art? Is Kitsch the answer? Kitsch Capitalised is no longer kitsch, since it becomes an appropriately holy, architecturally capitalised category. Consider a landscape painting: well-fed, impressive specimens of tawny deer roam freely all over the meadow. Now consider another painting which presents the same lush meadow equipped with yellow butterflies. No, I have not finished my essay yet. I am troubled by Umberto Eco’s insight: if only a few of the ready-made formulas are used, the result is simply kitsch. “When the reportoire of stock formulas is used wholesale, then the result is an architecture like Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia: the same vertigo, the same stroke of genius”. If one sticks to the butterfly image, one can think of a famous painting by J. E. Millais, A Blind Girl. The arithmetics of the sublime will prove that we have here one butterfly only, one bunch of delicate flowers, one puddle, two rainbows, half a dozen birds, six cows, etc. Everything comes in small numbers. But what would happen, if one painting used all existing and extinct specimens of deer and all existing and extinct butterflies plus all the butterflies to come? I am not sure whether it already approaches sublimity, but it does make a difference. There are literary works which implement magnified kitsch successfully: in G.G. Marquez One Hundred Years of Solitude the rain of dead birds is coming down (can we say dead birds are raining cats and dogs?), yellow flowers cover up the town after the death of Jose Arcadio Buendia, finally: countless clouds of yellow butterflies accompany Mauricio Babilonia’s every step. Clouds of yellow but ter f l ie s is not just an image, it is a concept which will reappear conveniently in this essay.
ISBN: 8322605374
Appears in Collections:Książki/rozdziały (W.Hum.)

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