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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Logical Horses: Or Several Historical, Aesthetic, Allegorical, and Mythical Vignettes

  • Author(s): Czacki, Catherine Erica
  • et al.

Logical Horses: Or Several Historical, Aesthetic, Allegorical, and Mythical Vignettes is a multi-tiered essay that weaves historical accounts in relation to storytelling, science fiction, and visual culture. The various methodologies detail instances of categorization within aesthetic discourse while also narrating absence––how exclusion/inclusion as polarities create conflicting histories. The essay jumps historical time periods––a problem I attempt to navigate by focusing on particular instances and cases that relate together the "cacophony" of history, time and aesthetics (using the concept of "cacophony" in line with Jodi Byrd’s argumentation in The Transit of Empire). The essay was edited by 6 participants and colleagues, in order to treat their art, writing and work as integral to the narratives established for the service of my writing. The essay begins with a vignette on the Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, establishing a thread regarding cultural and social othering as a broader social issue, continued later in the essay specific to artistic aesthetics. Other vignettes detail structures, such as Marxist thought, the history of Western ideas like the Great Chain of Being and institutions such as the College Art Association––analyzed as participants that promote certain artists over others as hierarchicalized authentic producers of art and culture, alternately falling into dangerous territories of exotification when including subjectivities previously excluded from the canon. Systems of connoisseurship and validation (Sally Price), deference and preference within how language is a tool for "doing it right" or "wrong" (Joanna Russ), and "Liquid Blackness" (a research collective and a term used by Black Studies scholars), are themes throughout the essay that address particular artists within and aside from the canon. Additionally interspersed throughout the essay is a speculative science fiction narrative, a story that unfolds under an alternative planetary setting, where resistances to dominant cultural paradigms are taking place. The aim of this essay is to, following Byrd’s idea of "cacophony," place instances next to each other so that the tensions of the narratives might trouble the stability of monolithic canonical histories, and seek hybridity as a methodology (though admittedly troubled as well)––what Byrd describes as "opening doors," on the complex issues relevant to how colonialism, cultural othering and aesthetics are interwoven.

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