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Aesthetic desire and distaste prime everyday life in surprising ways. The Cultural Promise of the Aesthetic casts much-needed light on the complex mix of meanings our aesthetic activities weave into cultural existence. Anchoring aesthetic experience in our relationships with persons, places, and things, Monique Roelofs explores aesthetic life as a multimodal, socially embedded, corporeal endeavor. Highlighting notions of relationality, address, and promising, this compelling study shows these concepts at work in visions of beauty, ugliness, detail, nation, ignorance, and cultural boundary. Unexpected aesthetic pleasures and pains crop up in sites where passion, perception, rationality, and imagination go together but also are in conflict. Bonds between aesthetics and politics are forged and reforged. Cross-disciplinary in outlook, and engaging the work of theorists and artists ranging from David Hume to Theodor W. Adorno, Frantz Fanon, Clarice Lispector, and Barbara Johnson, The Cultural Promise of the Aesthetic lays open the interpretive web that gives aesthetic agency its vast reach.