The “futurist” aesthetic as the end of habit

“According to the futurist/formalist view, art’s essential role was to overcome the numbing of perception that accompanies the automatizing of actions frequently performed. (In order to to do this, it seems necessary to destroy, not memory itself, but all the ways in which memory usually provides an implicit framework, an omnipresent, constantly updated set of expectations or schemas that guides normal forms of awareness.)” (Sass, Madness and Modernism, 63)

One ambition of the modernist aesthetic, according to Sass, is the destruction of habits, in the hope of “bringing about a fuller appreciation of things in all their concreteness and wondrous particularity” (63). But if habit is just constitutive of human perception and affection, then modernism is, in this sense, a profound project of de-humanization, a kind of anti-humanism.

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