David LaRocca‘s recent essay “The Education of Grown-ups: An Aesthetics of Reading Cavell” has been published by The Journal of Aesthetic Education. The article is already available in the JAE print edition (Vol. 47, No. 2, Summer 2013, 109-131). Once live at JSTOR, the essay will be available online here as well. His précis reads:
Just as there was a time when it was uncommon, not to say unfashionable and perhaps professionally treacherous, for philosophers to write about Ralph Waldo Emerson, there was a time when the pertinence of Stanley Cavell’s work for philosophy was a point of controversy. Now there is little reason to worry or complain that his work is not getting sufficient attention, so I do not proceed here in a mode of defense or complaint, but instead in a mood of wonder. I am interested in the phenomenon and practice of reading Cavell’s writing—work that appears capable of inspiring new writing while also causing the inspired to feel afraid of, or otherwise estranged from, the work. Panicked by its pedagogical force, a reader trying to write new things may be lead to defer or diminish the work that inspired those new things, finding that the inspiration suffocates new initiatives in prose. In this essay, I attend closely to the ways in which these and other issues in the aesthetics of reading appear when reading Cavell. My invocation of Cavell’s notion that “philosophy becomes the education of grownups” is meant to associate the aesthetics of reading Cavell’s work with the more general experience of education as it continues into maturity, regardless of discipline.
LaRocca is Writer-in-Residence in the F. L. Allen Room at The New York Public Library and Fellow at The Moving Picture Institute in New York. He is the author of On Emerson (Wadsworth), and the editor of Cavell’s book Emerson’s Transcendental Etudes (Stanford), The Philosophy of Charlie Kaufman (Kentucky), and Estimating Emerson: An Anthology of Criticism from Carlyle to Cavell (Bloomsbury). His articles on aesthetic theory, autobiography, film, and American philosophy have appeared in Epoché,Afterimage, Transactions, Liminalities, Film and Philosophy, The Midwest Quarterly, and The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. He can be reached at DavidLaRocca@Post.Harvard.Edu