The book Towards the Aesthetics of XXth Century: Mimesis, Fiction, Distance is divided into three main parts, according to the topics of the title. Each of them is in turn composed of two chapters, so that every first one treats its theme more generally and the second more "factually", i.e. the main thesis of the first part is applied to a more particular aesthetic problem (e.g. self-portrait, fictional worlds of sci-fi and so on). The author tries to present a picture of the contemporary aesthetics by analysis of the three fundamental, but problematical aesthetic concepts and with help of reflection on their mutual connections he attempts to find some answers to the most recent aesthetic and philosophical problems. Shortly about component chapters:
1.1. - Mimesis as an eternal return of the other already contains in its title an allusion to Nietzsche°s rather enigmatic term and also makes use of it in an extended concept of mimesis. The author first considers metamorphoses of "mimesis" in the history of aesthetics - mimesis as self-expression, as sign system, as possible worlds and so on. Throughout the whole chapter there are used the concepts of rhythm and temporality as a basis for an answer to the central question of the chapter: Why mimesis at all? After reflecting on Gadamer°s wider conception of mimesis and on Ricoeur°s creative three phased mimesis, on mimesis as the imaginative reiteration in cognitive processes (Kant) and on Nietzsche°s metaphorical rendering of knowledge, the author concludes that mimesis is an eternal return of the very possibility of an order (with chaos as its complement), a genuine presentation of the becoming or birth of the thought, subjectivity and the beautiful feeling. The extended concept of mimesis finally appears as a synecdoche of the universe.
1.2. - Mimesis and self-portrait makes use of the shortest circuit (from the temporal point of view) among creator, model and picture, among immediate sensation, picturing and self-reflection, among reality, mirror image and proper picture. As a kind of D.R.Hofstadter°s "strange loop" the mimesis of self-portrait appears to be a deontological transcendence of its creator. The author discusses a semiotic status of the mirror image, Lacan°s "mirror stage", the relationship of the virtual and the real, perceptual genesis of the self-portrait, as well as the affirming Other as a participating self in a possible world of the artwork. he also treats double self-reflection (mirror self-image and the intentional setback on the same self). On the base of Rorty°s approach to the problem of the Other in Proust (as well as Levinas° and Deleuze°s), where the others are shown as equal possibilities, the author claims that self-portrait posits the existential question through distanced actualization of the virtual. In other words, mimesis (not only of self-portrait) is an ontological reflection on possible ways of self-existence.
2.1. - Fiction, nothingness, and an affirmation of the reality. This chapter treats the problem of fiction from two different points of view - first with the aid of the concept of possible world, and second through temporal analysis of the passage between reality and fiction. Fiction is considered as an interruption of temporal flow of lived everyday world, as an actualization and recognition of the temporal becoming and as de-actualization of the present by an interval, by intervention of nothingness. That interval is a locus of nothingness, the interval between nostalgia and desire (de Man, Levinas). The worlds of fiction impair the horizon of natural world and its totality and the beholder stands in front of Being as the whole. Fiction posits the reality as a question and allows to see the real world as an arbitrary possibility. In the same token affirms the same world in its ontological status.
2.2 - The Power of the Genre as a Function of the Distance of its Possible World.
As an attempt to answer a question: e.g. why is fantasy more powerful than science-fiction, the study exploits the concept of the possible world in the logical sense, as well as in the sense of literary criticism. It tries to establish another criterion for genre specification (literary and film genres) and especially to explain the "power" of a genre according its degree of fictionality, its dependence on the distance of artwork°s possible world from the reality (the actual world). The author discusses M.-L.Ryan°s conception of the principle of the minimal departure and the accessibility relation, as well as Walton°s theory of mimesis as make-believe and he adds another factor - pulling or attraction of the myth, of the mytho-poetic nucleus as a vector, a vanishing point of every fiction. Along the example of postmodern fiction and its attempt to shake off well-established distinction between reality and fiction the author proves prejudices of the traditional approach to fiction and fantastic genres, the shift from epistemological to ontological appreciation of fiction and the role of myth in that shift. He also employs an extended conceptions of the alienation effect as a kind of aesthetic distance.
3.1. - The myth of mythicizing the aesthetic distance. First, the chapter resumes many kinds of distance: the distance between real world and fictional one, between the reflecting I and reflected self, distance from the Other (including the past self or non-actual self), distance as the basic movement of the life (Buber, Patočka, Heidegger).
Subsequently the author resists against the critique of the aesthetic attitude and especially the aesthetic distance as a "strong version of aesthetic attitude" (according to G.Dickie). He points out that Dickie and many analytical aestheticians do not consider self-reflection in the framework of aesthetic attitude, the shift from "primary object" to "secondary object" or aesthetic object proper, i.e. the relation between self and his/her affections (according to Bullough). The author tries to prove that Bullough°s aesthetic distance as a kind of aesthetic attitude is much more similar to the phenomenological sense of "attitude" than to the psychological one.
But even phenomenological rendering of aesthetic distance implies a recent controversial notion - the unitary self or Ego. On the basis of contemporary philosophy of mind (Minsky, Dennett) and the notion of "rhizome" (Deleuze, Guattari) the author offers a notion of the aesthetic distance as a unifying complex of acts. Its fulfilling results in an opening boundless horizon of (im)possibilities, in transcendence of totalizing subjectivity of the lived world.
3.2. - The aesthetic distance - a dialogue of self-reflection ?
In this last chapter the author tries to answer the headline question positively and for that reason he concentrates on a possibility of an inner dialogue between partial egos of one personality. Basic similarity is found between Bullough°s psychical distance and Husserl°s neutral modification of consciousness. From that finding the author proceeds to Buber°s conception of distance and its critiques by Levinas (explicit one) and by Patočka (implicit one). He comes to the conclusion that in the framework of aesthetic distance a dialogue between I and Thou is going on and in that relation "I" marks actual reflecting self, "Thou" marks non-actual reflected self. Inside of self-reflexivity of the neutral modification of consciousness there also emerges a becoming of subjectivity and dialogic relation with an aesthetic object and in the same time with the own self leads to a deeper insigh into the nature of the world and the personality of the recipient (spectator, reader and so on.).
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