I recently wrote this text in Sydsvenskan about the recent discussion in Axess Magazine on the topic of evolution and aesthetics. In the article I argue that the perspective given by the few rather conservative cultural thinkers in Axess is way to narrow. By not including the likes of VS Ramachandran, Jonah Lehrer, John Onians, Barbara Maria Stafford and Warren Neidich, an entire field of biologically infused aesthetic theory gets rejected. I am not the only one that hammers down on philosophers like Denis Dutton. Axess editor Johan Lundberg answers me back by stating:
”Stasinski seem to think that I see cave paintings as the ultimate artistic expression.However, I must at this point to disappoint him. I appreciate very much the most of art history’s achievements during 1700 -, 1800 – and 1900’s. This does not mean I believe that the man might be an evolutionarily developed an interest in both the fiction that masterfully rendered color and design experiments.”
Well, it certainly does not comes as a surprise that Lundberg lovingly embraces painting from latter days, although he does seem to grasp his own point: Without commenting on the effects on art and culture, he just leaves interpretation open for the evolutionary perspective. Even one of the writers in the magazine issue Geoffrey Miller subscribes to a view Lundberg seems to abhor – that we humans are best suited for a playful relation to the arts and everything around us. Lundberg constantly advocates our return to a ‘more accurate’ way of painting and doing arts. Strange, since he is certainly left with his love for the old, I just cannot imagine why he feels so strongly against contemporary experiments in any art form och science (he constantly publishes articles smothering gender science and everything has ever surrounded it). He further makes the mistake by debating epigenetics, which he obviously does not know much about, since he believes it is some kind of defence for darwinian evolution.
NO, it is one more fact to consider whilst making claims of how the mind developes during our lifetime. Sadly, I get the eerie feeling that Axess and Lundberg merely tries to find the suitable theories to fit with the narrow view of the field of arts. For that reason most of what Lundberg spews out if his mouth seems to have an agenda, and it’s not a journalistic or critical one.
For more on neurology, biology and aesthetics, here are some of my favorite sources: