What Makes Things Banal

Lukáš Makky


In this paper, I investigate the origins of banality and the reasons why some phenomena appear banal to us. I discuss the issue by analysing three interrelated areas of aesthetic investigation: artworks, everyday objects, and banal things. By identifying the source of banality, my goal is to understand what makes banal things different from other kinds of things. I consider the following questions: 1) when, why, and how does an object become banal?; 2) what happens when something becomes banal?; 3) are banal things aesthetically appealing? Drawing on Wolfgang Welsch’s notion of anesthetization and Walter Benjamin’s account of aura, I argue that banality consists in the absence of both an ontological and an axiological character in objects, which makes them appear trivial or insignificant to us. I conclude by showing that although art, everydayness, and banality represent different aesthetic dimensions, objects constantly move from one of these dimensions to the other.


Banality; Art; Everyday Aesthetics; Aura; Anesthetization

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ESPES. The Slovak Journal of Aesthetics (ISSN 1339-1119) is published biannually by Faculty of Arts, University of Presov, Slovakia and the Society for Aesthetics in Slovakia

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