Christopher Caudwell: Towards a Dialectical Theory of by Christopher Pawling

By Christopher Pawling

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In this sense, Caudwell' s epithet, 'functional', is perhaps more appropriate than the sort of precision and intellectual cohesion implied by the term 'functionalist'. One can say, however, that they shared certain basic assumptions about what constituted the natural startingpoint for any theory of human culture. I shall deal with these presuppositions in more detail later on but, briefly, they all insisted that culture could not be understood in isolation from the particular human needs, whether social (Engels and Plekhanov) or biological (Pavlov, Malinowski and Richards), which it existed to satisfy.

23 Caudwell builds on Harrison's idea that ritual gives expression to the individual's hopes for the future in his/her desire that 'something should happen'. But, whereas the author of Andent Art and Ritual tends to concentrate on art as an emotional safety-valve, a release for pent-up inhibitions and desires, Caudwell feels that it actually performs a much more concrete practical function. Harrison draws too direct a dichotomy between emotion and social practice in her assertion that 'ritual .

Ancient ritual, like modern painting, represented 'a thing imagined not actual': 1 I At the bottom of art, as its motive power and its mainspring, lies not the wish to copy Nature or even improve on her ... but rather an impulse, shared by art with ritual, the desire, that is, to utter, to give out a strongly felt emotion or desire by representing, 44 Christopher Caudwell by making or doing or enriching the object or act desired. The common source of the art and ritual of Osiris is the intense, world-wide desire that the Nature which seemed dead should live again.

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