What makes art What are its rules

The rules of art. Genesis and structure of the literary field

Bourdieu is well aware of these reservations about an analytical dissection of the enjoyment of art. As a sociologist, he is still particularly exposed to them, that is, as someone who tends to trace individual and singular phenomena back to general social laws. Every sociology of art is already attached a priori to the breath of a reductionism, which is not at all about the substance of the beautiful and sublime, but only about the function of the aesthetic in the context of the material interests of institutions and economies. Bourdieu therefore does not even try to defend his subject-specific approach: He immediately goes over to the counterattack by quoting the enemies of social science perspectives with the caricature fear that such interpretations are only about the humanly outstanding achievement of artistic sensation "on surveys to shorten our leisure time behavior ".

With such prejudices, of course, it is easy for Bourdieu to bring the guns of the Enlightenment into position. The question then no longer applies at all to the possibility or impossibility of criteria of art. Rather, the fundamental decision to be made is whether one faces the will to know or rather, in the name of an obscure enthusiasm for art, pays homage to what Bourdieu disparagingly describes as the "defeat of knowledge" or "resistance to analysis". Yes, the sociologist goes even further and soars to the height of philosophical speculation: With Plato, the aesthetic interest in making visible and tangible is devalued in favor of a construction of systems of intelligible relationships. In other words: Sociology itself works on the truth of art and intervenes in a potentiating way in the field of literary or visual aesthetics:

"In fact, it is up to the reader to decide whether it is true that - ... - the scientific analysis of the social conditions of the production and reception of the work of art in no way reduces and destroys the literary experience, but rather increases it: As with Flaubert will be seen, it initially removes the uniqueness of the "creator" in favor of the relationship that makes it mentally comprehensible, only to find it more impressively at the end of the reconstruction of the space to which the author belongs as a concrete intersection. "

Bourdieu's analysis of the rules of art calls into question one of the ideological positions that are legendary for modern aesthetics, namely that of the author and artist as the autonomous creator of his works. But if Bourdieu wants to join the ranks of - to speak with Freud - narcissistic insults of modern subject-centeredness - after Copernicus, Darwin and Freud himself -, he overestimates his originality: in spectacular essays from the 1960s, literary scholars like Barthes and science historians like Foucault have the Death of the author announced. And not least since the turn of the century, the ruling position of the creative genius began to falter after Mallarmé and Duchamp, among others, attributed artistic work to following the rules of the game.

Bourdieu takes up this point of view and expands it to the theory of the literary-artistic field, in whose societal and multifactorial breadth the creation of works of art takes place. The analysis begins with the example of Flaubert already mentioned, or more precisely, a strictly immanent reading of his novel "Education of the Heart", which rediscovered exactly that of Flaubert himself in the structure of the social space of the narrative. Exemplarily, the writer functions here as a medium of social and psychological structures that determine him, but which, conversely, by expressing them in his work, can present them in a new light and make them appear different. The paradigm that determines this relationship between the social field of potential forces and the innovative achievement of the artist for Bourdieu is the game. The rules of the art are the rules of a game, a serious game that requires belief in the value of the game without the outcome of the game being established.

To this extent Bourdieu speaks of rules and not of laws of art and recalls the etymological relationship between the Latin expression for game and the aesthetic concept of illusion. The rules of the game, winnings and stakes can be defined, which only describe the literary-artistic field as a potential space. In this space of the possible, aesthetic fiction realizes itself as a distance from the given social reality, although it follows its rules of the game - which leads Bourdieu to the reverse insight that the reality opposed to fiction is only the object of a collectively guaranteed illusion. In this respect, the sociological analysis of the rules of art also has an impact on the analysis of the genesis of the social field. However, it transcends the aesthetic illusion in the sense of disenchantment by addressing that distance itself and marking the difference between power and art games. Uncovering and naming the social rules of the game disenchants the artistic suggestion of reality and exposes the mechanism of its genesis by restituting something like the socio-historical truth of the work of art:

"In order to completely unveil the structure that the literary text disguises itself in the act of unveiling itself, the analysis must reduce the narrative of an adventure to the protocol of a kind of experimental montage. It is understandable that there is something deeply disenchanting attached to it. ... The" Reality effect "is that very specific form of belief that literary fiction produces by means of a denied reference to the designated real, which allows one to know, but at the same time refuses to know what it is really about. Sociological reading breaks the magic it revokes the secret consent that unites author and reader in the same relationship of denial of the reality expressed by the text, it reveals the truth that the text expresses, but in a way that does not express it; moreover, it brings a contrario the truth of the text itself emerges, whose peculiarity is just there rch is characterized by the fact that he does not say what he says in the same way as sociological reading. "

With this very dense formulation, Bourdieu summed up his position on art. It is a classic position of the Enlightenment, which claims for itself the place of truth from which it takes to the field against the strategies of veiling a pseudo-religious belief and ignorance. The sociologist expressly recognizes the otherness of the artistic text, but reserves the sole privilege of looking through and overviewing it. For him it is not about the aesthetic stimulus, not about the effect, but about the genesis of this effect, i. H. about "production formulas" on which the works are based. And for Bourdieu these are configured solely in what he calls the literary field, to which the writer, as a subordinate element, is first made into what he then represents in the register of aesthetic values ​​by the agencies of the market and patronage.

With Flaubert, Bourdieu has chosen an exposed representative of the aesthetic tendency of the 19th century that was precisely pursuing the goal of autonomous art. In this sense, the hero of the "education of the heart" demonstrates the incompatibility of art and money or, as an example for the epoch, propagates the aesthetic genesis of a different, not accumulating, but spending economy of the parlor game, in which it is ambiguously: "who loses, he wins! " In other words, what is meant is the genesis of an artistic bohème that gains its autonomy by breaking with the bourgeois order, thus triggering a surge of innovation in the deliberate violation of rules, which is located at the opposite pole to the production that is subject to the ruling powers or the market and the guidelines of a formulated the new legitimacy of the artist as an artist.

On the other hand, Baudelaire is cited as a kind of legislator or founding hero of this break with the bourgeoisie, in whom the transition from the anti-bourgeois artistic way of life to the staging of this existence as a work of art takes place in a way that is exemplary of the immanent effect of this aesthetic violation of social conventions. Bohème forms the literary-artistic field within the social fields of power and economy as a counter-society that must repeatedly defend itself against the tendencies of appropriation and assimilation:

"This makes it clear that the literary-artistic field is developing in a" bourgeois "world and against it, a world that had never before asserted its values ​​and claims in such a brutal way, undermining the instruments of legitimation in art and literature alike to bring their control, and the aim of which is to impose an undignified and degrading definition of cultural production through the press and its scribes. "

Bourdieu cites, inter alia. Baudelaire's and Flaubert's complaints about the threatening falsification of the art world through degrading market mechanisms and thus marks the historical beginning of the debate about the relationship between art and commerce, which continues to this day, in the middle of the 19th century. It is precisely at the moment when modern art gains its autonomy that it is exposed to the threat of extra-aesthetic factors to a particular degree. Hence the withdrawal into the denial gestures of the "failed" or "ostracized artist", who for his part only escapes humiliation by adapting to the system at the price of being degraded to an outsider. It is true that the "anti-economic" economy of pure art, with its values ​​of altruism and lack of interest, with its rejection of commerce and profit, clearly differs from the "economic" logic of the literary-artistic industry of dealing with cultural goods; but this aneconomy of the gift of the incomparable d. H. In the end, a priceless work of art has to reckon with a gift in return in the form of recognition and profit, only - as Bourdieu notes, not without irony - concealed by the generous gesture of lack of expectation and the inserted time interval of later paying off.

In this sense, Bourdieu shows that the classical concepts of artistic subjectivity, namely authorship and artistry, in their emphatic usage have no over-historical metaphysical value, but rather come into play as specific strategic stakes in the genesis of the literary field in the 19th century. Since his early work on the symbolic forms of society, Bourdieu has dealt with this disenchantment of the genius cult of the great men in literature and art by uncovering the construction rules of their aesthetic image and the artist habitus (from codes of behavior to dress codes) as Distinction mechanism certain. For the modern, autonomous artist, it is first of all important to distinguish himself externally from the citizen, but the means or - more modernly speaking - the entire media apparatus that propagates the myth of the artist and his pseudo-divine creativity and originality in the truest sense of the word are made available by bourgeois society and its developed communicative technologies.

The question of "creation" refers to the transfiguration into the charisma of demiurgic abilities of individuals rather to the material conditions of production, which as a collective bring together many, above all, non-artistic factors and which consist in the conflict between the various social fields of cultural representation. Bourdieu speaks of the "invention" of the modern artist through the social construction of autonomous fields of production, whereby not only economic factors play a role, but also the construction of specific criteria of perception and evaluation, i. H. the development of a genuinely aesthetic mode of perception:

"You only have to ask the forbidden question once to see at once that the artist who creates the work is himself created within the field: namely by all those who do their part to" discover "him and who Consecration is given as a "known" and recognized artist - the critics, writers of forewords, art dealers, etc. So the person dealing with art (gallery owner, publisher, etc.) is, for example, the one who exploits the artist's work by trading in his products drives, and inseparably therewith also those who, by bringing the product of artistic production to the market of symbolic goods, through their exhibition, publication or staging, ensure this a more significant consecration, the more established and recognized they are in this way he helps to create the value of the author for whom he stands up, that it helps him to become known and recognized ... "

This makes the full extent of the narcissistic insult that Bourdieu conjured up at the beginning clear, which primarily affects the ennobling of writers and artists, whereby Bourdieu points out that the literary and artistic fields, which he otherwise does not distinguish further, mutually confirm each other in their striving for emancipation . Bourdieu does not seem to be interested in the centuries-long competition between poetry and painting; he is more concerned with common traits such as the permanent production and reproduction of the illusion effect rather than being anchored in social play. Understanding an artist or author therefore means for Bourdieu to determine his position in the corresponding aesthetic field, in other words to analyze his role in the game, his "investing", "getting involved" as a player, without compromising the value of the work of art would be determined by him. Rather, it is the entire field of production that contributes to its creation, but at the same time has to stir up the belief in the creative power of the individual artist in order to maintain the fetish character of the art product in its economically inevitable surplus value.

In his view of this phenomenon, Bourdieu again proves to be a very sociologist: For him, the effectiveness is comparable to the rites of sorcery, such as those used in B. master the magic of primitive societies. Indeed, he is not the first to describe the figure of the modern artist as a shaman. At the same time, the question of the quality of the work of art is completely out of sight and the aesthetic value is only measured by the perfection with which authors and artists master or see through the game of illusory fetishization. The best example is, of course, Duchamp with his ready mades, the utensils such as bottle dryers or pee basins, which are used in the force field of artistic practices e.g. B. the assembly, the signature, the presentation received museum value. But Mallarmé can also confirm this tendency for literature by discovering the principle of throwing the dice for his poetry, which conjures up an infinite number of forms of expression from 25 letters.

In this sense, the discourse about the work of art is no longer a mere subsequent means to better grasp it, but a "moment in the production of the work, its meaning and its value". Numerous examples of this can be found in Duchamp, who not only spoke and wrote more and more about the creative act instead of performing it, but also increasingly shifted his artistic activity to playing chess. This, as it were, playing with the game also reacts to the fundamental temporal problem of a dialectic of distinction that ages the privilege of originality and replaces an avant-garde that has become classic with a newly arriving youth. Bourdieu sees the literary-artistic playing field haunted by the agonal category of struggle, which also defines the social field of power as a struggle for market shares and also poses the problems of recruiting new customer groups for art production, as Bourdieu describes using the example of perfume brands:

"The new avant-garde has all the less trouble occupying the position (or, in marketing language, the 'niche') abandoned by the established avant-garde than it is only a return to the original and ideal definition of the The practice of appealing to the purity, misunderstanding and poorness of beginning smokes; the literary or artistic heresy takes place against orthodoxy but at the same time with it: in the name of what it once was. "

This problem of the avant-garde, which Bourdieu emphasizes as that of repositioning in the reciprocal relationship between specific positions in the literary-artistic field and the general disposition of the social field, for him once again clearly points to the importance of the historical and the need to to preserve an art history from false perpetuation. For him, the "true" meaning of works of art lies in the artist's historically conditioned way of perceiving the world aesthetically, and says something about the socio-historically marked configurations of the game between power, exchange, illusion and magic. As for these rules of social representation of the aesthetic, Bourdieu's analyzes are undeniable and illuminating in their differentiated and knowledgeable execution. What makes their reception more difficult, however, is the very self-centered style of argumentation, the aleatoric, redundant sequence of which is not very much in evidence with other contributions on the topic. Amazing is z. For example, that Walter Benjamin, who is only mentioned en passant, with his relevant work on the emergence of modern information culture is not given any consideration, indeed that the question of modern media technology is completely excluded. Bourdieu retreats here to the more classic standpoint that one cannot argue about taste: "In short, one may argue about taste - as everyone knows, the exchange of preferences takes up a lot of space in everyday conversation - so it is certain that communication about these things is fraught with many misunderstandings: the classification schemes that make them possible also contribute to making them practically ineffective. "

Bourdieu, at least with regard to the sociologically restituted truth of the work of art, which he claimed at the beginning, tends to hold back towards the end of the more than 500-page long explanations and, in view of the historically variable contexts, points out that there is only one truth, namely that about the Truth is fought. Not least at this point his normative interest is expressed, which is expressed in the transition from the artist figure to the intellectual who - like Zola first with his intervention in the Dreyfus affair - uses his aesthetic position for political engagement. What it says about the artistic aspect of art remains obsolete because it tends to evade the rules of art.