Ideology and Art: Theories of Mass Culture from Walter Benjamin to Umberto Eco

By Robin Ridless | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION
MECHANICAL REPRODUCTION IN THE AGE OF MECHANICAL REPRODUCTION

The aim of this book has been to define the contribution of art to political change--art in general and mass art in particular. In focusing on structure and, within structure, the characteristics of fragmentation, multiplicity and ambiguity, it has argued the following: Art and ideology offer individuals, through their competing structural systems, different cognitive "maps" of the world. (For fragmentation, multiplicity and ambiguity imply their opposites--integration, orthodoxy, forced reconciliation.) These maps are a basis for social practice. Art is a spawning ground of new ideas. Real life is their crucible.

The distinctive contribution of this work to the literature in the field is its synthesis of two very different traditions: the Marxist aesthetic writings of the 1930s and latter-day semiotics. By bringing out the formalism in the first tradition, the structural approach made it possible to forge a collection of scattered, outdated observations into a contemporary political theory of mass culture. As Benjamin was reported to have said at the

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