Date of Award
Master of Arts
The preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray is often dismissed as merely an addendum to the novel intended to detract hostile readers and absolve the text itself of any accusations of immorality. When coupled with the narrative itself, however, the novel shows both the impossibility of producing the new through traditional notions of revolution, as well as the way in which the Deleuzian conception of judgment inhibits Dorian from ever viewing the portrait as insignificantly amoral, as not symbolic of his sins. Yet the preface, coupled with the various aesthetic objects in the text, is productive of a new form of judgment, one that does not reproduce the same moral order. This takes the form of a "useless" judgment. When Lord Henry claims he wishes to change nothing in England but the "weather," this is the same as the portrait, returned to its original form, hanging over Dorian's body at the novel's end: neither is a judgment with a use, but rather a judgment of a work of art that produces nothing in the work of art. Lord Henry cannot change the weather, and the portrait's changes do not help or affect Dorian in any way. Thus we see the answer to Deleuze's question of what the "refusal of work" would look like. Art is "quite useless" in that it is both extremely removed from any and all spheres concerned with moral order, and also fairly indifferent to this fact and Dorian's concern with maintaining a world organized by useful symbols.
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