By Richard Howells (auth.)
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Extra info for A Critical Theory of Creativity: Utopia, Aesthetics, Atheism and Design
51 But European history was about to take a dramatic turn, and the day that the Nazis took power in Germany, Bloch (who was, we remember, a Jewish, Marxist intellectual) received a telephone phone call telling him that he was on a list of people to be arrested. So, the Blochs swiftly left for Switzerland and Ernst Bloch and Utopian Critical Theory 37 eventually Czechoslovakia, which the Nazis were soon also to invade. So in 1938, he and Karola left for the United States. Bloch’s time in the United States was typically contradictory.
85 Visions and Derisions of Utopia 25 Utopianism, according to Sargisson, crosses disciplinary and conceptual boundaries, together with those divisions that order and separate existing modes of thought. Utopia is therefore transgressive: It steps over such boundaries, rendering them meaningless or porous. This in turn creates new spaces where new ways of thinking and looking at the world can be practiced – and even lived. 86 This way of thinking has undergone a revival in recent years, Sargisson says,87 but at the same time stresses (as I have done), the status of much of Utopia as speculative.
My aim is simply to introduce this notoriously complex and allegedly incomprehensible thinker to the reader who is not already a Bloch specialist. This will provide a theoretical foundation for my case study on Navajo aesthetics and creation mythology in Chapter 4, while also laying the ground for my much more detailed analysis of Bloch’s sharper-focused writing on atheism and Christianity in Chapters 7 and 8. Bloch believed that cultural texts, from the high and deliberate to the popular and unaware, contained ‘preserved meanings’ that served to criticise existing social conditions.