By Richard Howells (auth.)
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Extra resources for A Critical Theory of Creativity: Utopia, Aesthetics, Atheism and Design
Here, Gramsci is musing upon the Country of Cockaigne, the imaginary medieval land 34 A Critical Theory of Creativity of leisure, luxury and plenty – a recurring Utopian vision which, as we shall see, features in the hopeful philosophy of Ernst Bloch. 37 Such ridiculous fantasies, he said, needed to be struck down in pursuit of ‘sobriety and intellectual order’. He vented against ‘ridiculous daydreamers’,38 determining instead that ‘It is necessary to create sober, patient people who do not despair in the face of the worst horrors and who do not become exuberant with every silliness.
Plato, we remember, asserted that art was merely a form of play and not to be taken seriously. Art was, he believed, simply an illusion that provided a poor substitute for the real thing. We can see, then, how radically different is Bloch’s view: Stage and story can be either a protective park or a laboratory; sometimes they console or appease, sometimes they incite; they can be a flight from or a pre-figuring of the future. 85 42 A Critical Theory of Creativity This may sound very inspiring in theory, but to some it might equally seem far away from the practical realities of building a better world.
By this he meant that we were lacking in self-awareness in the present that we needed the inklings seen in the lighter world of the not-yet-conscious to anticipate and work towards Utopia. ’ This is a kind of ‘intellectual productivity’ that is ‘work-forming’ (werkbildend). ’81 Bloch’s concept of the aufrechter Gang is best translated as the ‘upright gait’. With this expression, he wanted to communicate his conviction (and there’s obviously an evolutionary metaphor here) that mankind had not yet learned – or been able – to walk completely upright in dignity and oppression-free self-respect.