The Aesthetics of Desire and Surprise: Phenomenology and Speculation covers issues central to contemporary continental philosophy (desire, expectations, excess, rupture, transcendence, immanence, surprise). The proposed term desire||surprise captures the phenomenological-speculative character of the pair not yet and no longer. Non-obvious parallels between different thinkers are drawn, and the argumentation is organized around philosophical figures relevant in the sequence desire - excess -pause (rupture, break) - recuperation (surprise). The works of Levinas, Zizek, Bataille, Blanchot, Foucault, and Ricoeur are interpreted and positioned according to the proposed template of desire - excess - pause. The consideration of limit experiences involves authors fascinated by transgression, and the question of whether excess is immanent or transcendent. This discussion considers works by Nietzsche, Deleuze, Zizek, and Foucault. The analysis of surprise and the beginning of recovery after the pause considers works by Fink, Merleau-Ponty, Nancy, Lyotard, Dufrenne, Bachelard, and Seel. The provocative argument elaborated in this work is that surprise starts with indifference. Furthermore, the argument is that surprise begins where the concept reaches its ending, hence that the limit of speculative thinking at its ending is the limit of aesthetics at its beginning. The work of Hegel, Schelling and Jaspers are discussed in order to argue for the beginning of aesthetics there where knowledge ends.
Philosophical thematic is contextualized via sections on artists such as Duchamp and Mondrian, and on some films, provoking interest of aestheticians working in art history and cultural studies departments.
Jarred by endless war and jaded by decades of `culture industry', one might think of surprise as a quaintly exotic or even extinct experience. Yet in proving the irrepressible character of what she calls `the desire for the unexpected' and its intrinsic tie to the `Aha!' experience, Jadranka Skorin-Kapov rekindles hope in a seemingly hopeless world. -- Robert Harvey, Stony Brook University
The arguments, analyses, and insights presented in The Aesthetics of Desire and Surprise are new and important. The strongest features of the work are its originality and thoroughness. Many works refer to surprise as a component of some other analysis, but no other work that I know of is devoted exclusively to the phenomenology of surprise. Surprise is an underappreciated category of the aesthetic that gets its due in this work -- Richard Gilmore, Concordia College