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Merleau Ponty and the Paradoxes of Expression offers a comprehensive reading of the philosophical work of Maurice Merleau Ponty a central figure in 20th century continental philosophyBy establishing that the paradoxical logic of expression is Merleau Ponty's fundamental philosophical gesture this book ties together his diverse work on perception language aesthetics politics and history in order to establish the ontological position he was developing at the time of his sudden death in 1961 Donald A Landes explores the paradoxical logic of expression as it appears in both Merleau Ponty's explicit reflections on expression and his non explicit uses of this logic in his philosophical reflection on other topics and thus establishes a continuity and a trajectory of his thought that allows for his work to be placed into conversation with contemporary developments in continental philosophy The book offers the reader a key to understanding Merleau Ponty's subtle methodology and highlights the urgency and relevance of his research into the ontological significance of expression for today's work in art and cultural theory

14 thoughts on “Merleau-Ponty and the Paradoxes of Expression

  1. says:

    When word got out that Donald Landes had written a new book on Merleau Ponty there was reason aplenty to feel excited After all this was the bloke who'd furnished the world with a magnificent new translation of Merleau Ponty’s masterwork the Phenomenology of Perception just a couple of years prior Having now gobbled up Landes’s new study over the course of the last few days allow me to affirm it’s bloody good While variously portrayed elsewhere as a philosopher of the body of perception or of phenomenology generally the Merleau Ponty that Landes presents here is instead a philosopher of expression through and through over and above the other various themes that have come to define the reception of French philosopher's workWhat then constitutes expression? A paradox first of all one in which the expressed does not precede the expression but is engendered along with it Consider language Against the prevalent idea that language is a ‘making public’ of a privately held meaning an expressive approach to language would instead recognize that the very act of formulating our thoughts in language in fact helps engender those very thoughts to begin with Beginning with nothing but a ‘vague fever’ we come to give expression to our thoughts by ‘making sense’ of them fashioning them as creative responses to the fields of sense into which they are cast Solicited by the world at large expression is thus neither mechanical repetition nor pure creation but the interval between both a logic of things in the making linguistic or otherwiseAnd indeed while beginning with language Landes's study proceeds by tracking the ever proliferating logic of expression as it becomes woven through the tapestry of Merleau Ponty's far flung investigations thus there is a politics of expression no less than there is an artistic practice of expression a theory of perception as expression no less than a full blown ontology of expression all of which are detailed through Landes’s delicate and probing readings of Merleau Ponty’s oeuvre While acknowledging that Merleau Ponty only ever thematised expression fleetingly albeit increasingly throughout his career for Landes expression nonetheless captures the very style of his every philosophical gesture one implicitly operative across the span of his richly diverse body of workBy hewing close to the logic underpinning Merleau Ponty's philosophy of expression rather than his explicit pronouncements upon it Landes also allows himself the space to do some pretty nifty philosophizing of his own too His extrapolation of a 'Merleau Pontian' approach to metaphor which opens the book for example is a singularly brilliant contribution to the philosophy of metaphor in its own right uite apart from anything else offered within Further by reading Merleau Ponty through a prism of concepts drawn from the work of Gilbert Simondon and Jean Luc Nancy ‘metastability' and ‘transduction' from the former 'excription' and ‘vestiges’ from the latter Landes also introduces a whole new set of interpretive tools which frankly any future studies of Merleau Ponty's work ought to reckon with as well All in all a superb book

  2. says:

    Littered with jargon and repetition What is lacking in style is made up by the occasional insight

  3. says:

    A comprehensive look at the diverse philosophical writings of Maurice Merleau Ponty Landes argues the the paradoxes of expression are a thread tying Merleau Ponty's entire oeuvre together