9 abr. 2008

I've been meaning to post my thoughts on aesthetics.

The first principle is that aesthetics form part of everyday life. From architecture to the design of everyday objects, clothing and the "care of the self," gastronomy, entertainment... the relation between humans and nature; sport... Aesthetics permeate life per se rather than being a separate sphere belonging to the "fine arts." Such arts might only be identifiable as such by an apparent separation from other activities, but this separation is always fragile and temporary.

The second principle is that anaesthetic or ascetic views of the aesthetic remain within the realm of the aesthetic. In other words, the negation of the aesthetic: "I prefer to wear ugly clothes" or "I don't care what my food tastes likes" are aesthetic choices. A taste in harsh-sounding music is not a rejection of "beauty." Aesthetics is not about "beauty" as prettiness, but about aesthetic perceptions of various kinds. "Beauty" seems the archetype of such perceptions, but it must be given its widest range.

The third principles is amorality. We are familiar with two archetypes: the brutish aesthete, the man (usually it is a man) with exquisitely refined tastes who is unspeakably cruel. Here aestheticism stands in for a kind of refined selfishness.

Another variation on this archetype: the mad genuis who makes others suffer.

The other archetype is the opposite: the sensitive artist, whose love of beauty is inherently ennobling.

Certain consequences flow from these ways of thinking. Does bad taste make you a saint? Or does despising aesthetics make you a brute?

What if there is actually no relation between ethics and aethetics? Since aesthetics permeate human life, anthropologically speaking, it is found everywhere, so there really no point in associating it (them) either with the best or worst impulses of humanity. The aesthetic urge can seem noble or ignoble simply because of what company it happens to be keeping at any one given moment. If the aesthetic ugliness of something happens to be associated with some ethical evil (Shostokovich's Stalinist Kitsch?), that's just an association after the fact.

1 comentario:

Jordan dijo...

The title of my next chapbook, Stalinist Kitsch.