Homo Aestheticus: Where Art Comes From and Why.
HOMO AESTHETICUS: Where Art Comes From and Why. Ellen Dissanayake.
New York: The Free Press (Macmillan, Inc.), 1992. 297 pp., hardcover,
This book, like the author's earlier work, What Is Art For?,
calls upon the reader to think deeply about the cultural imperative of
the arts in this thoughtful study of art as a cultural imperative. In
her study of the aesthetic or artistic dimension of humans, Dissanayake
discusses ritual, play and art in many cultures as preface to the
introduction of Making Special, a concept that characterizes art as the
desire to make some things special--a biologically defined need. Not
content to rest on her well-researched and referenced cultural/
scientific premise, the writer also stimulates thinking as she delves into the genesis, place and implications of Postmodernism in current
critical thought. Not easy reading, but a valuable and convincing
argument for viewing the arts as one of the necessities of life.