Oakeshott on Aesthetic Experience

Here is a trailer of Corey Abel’s essay “Whatever It Turns Out To Be: Oakeshott on Aesthetic Experience,” the eighth essay in the run-up to the Companion’s official publication on October 19:

Orbaneja, a fictional painter from a real town, is criticized by Don Quixote for painting so badly that he produces only “whatever emerges,” so that he must append a sign to his work. He paints a cockerel “so unlike a real cockerel that he had to write in capital letters by its side: “This is a cockerel’.” Cervantes uses the tale twice in the second part of Don Quixote, in which our hero confronts a literary representation of himself that has been published almost simultaneously with his own adventures. Its representational accuracy concerns him, as does the disturbing possibility that his own “history” could be like Orbaneja’s painting, “needing a commentary to make it intelligible.” In “The Voice of Poetry in the Conversation of Mankind” (1959), Oakeshott uses Orbaneja to introduce beauty, friendship, and the “delightful insanity” of childhood. In Don Quixote, the tale of Orbaneja introduces a discussion of the relation between poetry and history. When Oakeshott’s discussion turns to poetry in “The Voice of Poetry” the first footnote in the section cites passages in Aristotle’s Poetics differentiating poetry from “medicine or natural science” and from “history.” Orbaneja, the painter Oakeshott says all poets are like, allusively introduces us to Oakeshott’s themes — creativity and imitation, signs, beauty, love and friendship, childhood, Aristotle, the relation of poetry, science, and history.