Instead of continuing on more Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, as was my intent, I’ll do a very short essay, a follow-up to the previous essay on landscape and aesthetics, as examined during the lecture course on aesthetics. The bad thing here is that I can hardly remember what the lectures were on, including the hilarious anecdotes on this and that. I’ll add them later on, as I tend to do, if they come back to me. The good thing is that unlike I usually do, that is to say only scribble some notes, I did make actual proper notes on my laptop. I normally simply attend and pay attention. To be honest, I can’t remember when I’ve been as attentive during a lecture before this lecture series. I reckon it has to do with the lecturer actually providing me a wealth of knowledge without me having to do all the work myself. Anyway, as a recap, the previous essay on the lectures focused heavily on the works of Caspar David Friedrich and Kant’s definition of beauty. The point was that landscape painting has this metaphysical quality to it in the early 1800s.
My memory of the first lecture on the topic was a bit vague after the lecture as I wrote the essay and/or the lecturer didn’t actually elaborate what it was that I was interested in: how it shifted from metaphysics to nation building. I was happy to notice that the lecturer addressed the issue again on the following lecture and I made notes accordingly. So, right, it became clear that indeed, as I remembered, in the early 1800s Kant’s aesthetics were applied in landscape painting in the Germanic context. He clarified that in the early 1800s you could achieve metaphysical understanding of the world by, say, climbing a mountain and then having a look at the world, that is to say the whole world. It’s sort of finding yourself type of a deal. He then added that later on, in the late 1800s, however, landscape was reappropriated to serve another purpose, nation building. He clarified that as with landscape metaphysics, you do still do the same, but now you see what it is to be, for example, wholly Finnish. He noted that this, the landscape makes you, for example, a Finn. Moreover, he pointed out that depicting Finnish landscapes, for example, the lakes in the eastern parts of Finland had this function. The lecturer used other examples as well though. One was the bog near Forssa, Tammela to be specific. I assume he meant the view over Torronsuo National Park. I’ve been there, so I can picture it alright. In my undergrad years we ventured while attending a geography field trip, to take soil samples and what not. I may have some photos of the area somewhere, but I can’t remember where they might be. You can, however, help yourself out in the absence of photos and just look up Torronsuo yourself. An image search will result in plenty of landscape photos of that bog. The lecturer also added that landscape painting had a parallel in literature. Apparently the Romantics romanticized or idealized even eating bread made out of grain substitute made out of phloem of young pines. In this case he referred to Aleksis Kivi. The opposite for this, for him at least, is Minna Canth, whose various depictions were gruesomely realist. This made me wonder … is there any realist landscape paintings or photos? Aren’t they always a bit … better … or have that … that romanticized or idealized appeal to them?
Among the anecdotes that now sprung to my mind was one where the lecturer amused the audience by pointing out that in his experience, going against the popular belief, men act all tough, but aren’t in reality, just sheep in wolves’ clothes. He also pointed out that this also works the other way around, women being perceived as not tough but being tough as nails underneath such veneer, wolves in sheep’s clothing. I believe there were a couple of random Finnish words brought up, again, in order to point out that it was probably Elias Lönnrot who came up with them, after a few drinks in. Other bits included him explaining how people usually just associate Friedrich Nietzsche with nihilism, rather than as addressing it, it having to do with the death of God and what that meant for people. The Frankfurt School was mentioned very briefly. The usual suspects were mentioned. Surprisingly, well, at least to me, Walter Benjamin got a shout out in that context. I did, however, nod approvingly when he brought his name up. What else? The development of nation states got covered for the umpteenth time as we were on the 1800s. The lecturer reminded the audience to think of what good came out of it, the abolition of estates, the division of society into nobility, clergy, bourgeoisie and peasantry. This is particularly notable in the Finnish context as the estates system was still in effect as late as 1906.
There’s still a couple of lectures left, so there might still be some nuggets of gold in store for the audience. It’s hard to say if there’s going to be anything landscape related though. I’ll still want to investigate landscape as mimesis though, even if it doesn’t get covered during the lectures. Okay, in a way it has been covered, but not specifically. Anyway, perhaps this is something I’ll try to address, hopefully sooner than later, but if not sooner, then later.