What’s luck got to do with it? A lot, I would say. Being at the right place at the right time.
Last week I decided to start mapping out the best brains on phenomenology and photography. Not separately, but combined. Who are they, where are they, and what have they done that could be of interest for this project. What are they presently working on?
I started to ask around. It was my guess that the Husserl-Archives in Leuven, Belgium, would be one of the good places to start. They should know who is who, where and when.
I had a look at their web page, but that did not ring any immediate bells so I just roamed the site. And there it was: Professor John Brough (Georgetown University, Washington D.C.) was on his way to Leuven, Belgium, to do a guest lecture. (This was Thursday October 7, 2010.) The theme: The Curious Image: Husserlian Thoughts on Photography. To be held Monday 11 October, 17.00 – 19.00, Room C. I could even download a poster.
I know John Brough’s reputations already. He is the guy who translated Husserl’s Phantasie, Bildbewusstsein, Erinnerung (Husserliana Band XXXIII), which, I am ashamed to say, have owned for many years, but until recently never have done anything serious about. I bought the English translation by Brough a couple of years back, and was actually re-reading his brilliant introduction, when I found out about the guest lecture in Belgium. I wanted to drive down (from Copenhagen, Denmark), but there was not much time to prepare. So I did not go.
Did you know, by the way, that you can read most of John Brough’s English translation, absolutely free of charge. On the net. Try it. You can definitely read the Introduction.
There is even more: Handbook of Phenomenological Aesthetics just came out. Edited by Hans Rainer Sepp and Lester Embree. I am the lucky owner of one copy. Professor Brough has two articles in the book. The first one is titled: Edmund Husserl (1859 -1938), and the second one is on Representation. Both are good reads on the way to photography.
The common view is that Husserl said very little about photography. I don’t hold that opinion.
That is, basically, what I wanted to tell you. I am really looking forward to reading John Brough’s guest lecture on Husserl’s curious image. Once it is ready for publishing. I will probably write about it too. If I am right, the lecture definitely fills a gap.
Should I say that I am eagerly curious, or is that too banal?
NB: The photograph above has nothing to do with the lecture. It has been inserted for visual purposes, by the blog author. Go here for more photographs.
Yes, I admit that this is a somewhat prosaic title for a blog post.
However, using that caption there is a change that random googlers searching for phenomenology and/or aesthetics will find their way to this post. To this blog.
The reason is that when they get here, I am in a position to inform them that this book it now out, and with an impressive scope handled in about 70 separate articles.
The title is, as you might have guessed: Handbook of Phenomenological Aesthetics. Editors are Hans Rainer Sepp and Lester Embree. It is published by Springer in 2010.
The book is not a collection of essays by the masters themselves: Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Roman Ingarden, whoever. The editors have done better: All articles have been written specially for this handbook, and they are short(er) introductions to specific thinkers, and to specific themes. You can dive in from there. One way is using the suggested bibliography.
Contributors are distinguished scholars within their fields. They give you summaries, interpretations, updates and contributions to the themes/philosophers in question.
Handbook of Phenomenological Aesthetics is not a book you want to read page by page. It is a handbook, a book that you will want to keep close at hand and to grab when the questions are about phenomenology and aesthetics. As such, the book comes with a lot of muscle.
My particular interest, for instance, are the crossroads of phenomenology and photography. Not only as theoretical disciplines, but as practical executor of both. There are plenty of interesting stuff for me: Andrea Pinotti have written about Style; Cathrin Nielsen about Work of Art; Cheung Chan-Fai about Photography; Eliane Escoubas about Paintings, just to mention a few contributors and themes.
I need to come back with reviews of specific articles in separate blog posts, and I will. So far this is just a pointer to the book. As I said, it is impressive. Much needed and much wanted. Now it is here.
Good luck with it.