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Into the Light of Things

The Art of the Commonplace from Wordsworth to John Cage

In this sweeping revision of avant-garde history, John Cage takes his rightful place as Wordsworth’s great and final heir. George Leonard traces a direct line back from Cage, Pop, and Conceptual Art through the Futurists to Whitman, Emerson, Ruskin, Carlyle, and Wordsworth, showing how the art of everyday objects, often thought an exclusively contemporary phenomenon, actually began as far back as 1800.

In recovering the links between such seemingly disparate figures, Leonard transforms our understanding of modern culture.

Selected by the American Library Association’s journal, Choice, as "one of the Outstanding Academic Books of the Year"

"Leonard’s book is a fine example of interdisciplinary studies. He shifts focus persuasively from art theory to literature to religious thought and biography, making his method seem the natural mode of inquiry into culture."—Kenneth Baker, San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

"Provocative and illuminating."—Library Journal

"Highly stimulating, impassioned."—Publisher’s Weekly

"A rich and rewarding study written in a clear and accessible style with excellent references and a very useful index. Highly recommended."—Choice

268 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1994

Art: Art Criticism

Philosophy: General Philosophy

Table of Contents

I: The End of Art?
II: The Status of the Art Object Relative to Mere Real Things Before 1800
III: Confronting the Art Object: The Simple Produce of the Common Day
A: William Wordsworth: The Simple Produce of the Common Day
B: Thomas Carlyle: Natural Supernaturalism
C: John Ruskin
IV: Leaving the Raft Behind: John Cage
A: Recontextualizing Cage: Industrial Supernaturalism, Suzukian Zen, and
the Buddha’s Raft
B: The Simple Produce Changes: The Industrial Revolution and the Crisis
of Natural Supernaturalism
C: On the Buddha’s Raft
D: The Ultimate Object
E: Ecology: 24’00"

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