The death of aesthetic

Good taste

The awareness and appreciation of what constitutes good form no longer exists. Even providing for individual preferences and cultural relativism, the fact that we are one species and so share some salient features means that we should ideally recognize a universal bar for beauty and taste. Every human endeavour has its distinct contour, moulded by conscious and subconscious motives to achieve an individual proportion of varying appeal in the beholder’s view. This contour can be extrapolated from virtually everything we do and see in life; from an act of speech or the written word, in the various arts, in politics and statesmanship, and even in brainy science and mathematics where adepts preside over the “graceful” solution can this yearning for the natural aesthetic be found. Nature, in its unending diversity, and then our very bodies themselves in their almost equally boundless variety, are pregnant with lines, curves, colors, and mental prowesses that nevertheless carry something beyond mere subjective interpretation, of what may indeed be regarded as indisputable quality. After all, the lowly pebble placed next to a mountain is dwarfed both in grandeur and metaphorical significance; nature does not distribute her bounty equitably so why should human affairs be any different?

But there is not the end. From the natural and intellectual plane, this same yearning for aesthetic ascends to the level of social processes. It is evidenced in the way we comport ourselves in the public domain and in our interactions with the world. In sophisticated society, this manifests itself in the form of etiquette, attire, and other social graces, and while those are indispensable to a degree, being outer symbols of what separates us from the beasts, this particular aspect, in my view, has nothing to do with how we are perceived by another but instead with how we perceive ourselves. Perhaps there is nothing more important in this life than self-respect and consistency between thought and action; every contradiction of a previously strong stance should send a pang of intense self-recrimination and reevaluation through the introspective consciousness. To have others dissent with your opinion is par for the course and an invaluable part of dialogue and discourse, but to find yourself trespassing your past convictions should cause pride to throb with great pain and be reason for sleepless nights.

The death of aesthetic lies in the gradual unbecoming of an all-round appreciation of these things, in others as well as in ourselves. Curiously enough, it is most commonly seen in those who have never developed this appreciation in the first place, either due to the wrong set of formative influences or because of a naturally inferior mental build. Because it is hard to believe that those who display an acute sense of real aesthetics, and not simple, warmed-over pretense, in even one branch of existence can struggle to superimpose the same alertness on all other walks of life. As different as these branches may be on the exterior, the marrow of their intention is much the same. So, while the knower of general aesthetic might only be a novice to a different branch of expression, he still contains the seed common to all good taste; it may only be roughly-formed, but its form is in place and ready to be fleshed out with further encouragement.

Unfortunately, however, those in whom this knowledge of aesthetics is dead or has never existed in the first place constitute the great majority of our world today and, because of this same lack of nuance, are also the most loudly heard. Perhaps this has always been so, but these voices now have the amplification of technology, pseudo-individuality, and post-modern liberal massaging groupthink behind them, and so are disrupting the fabric of what constitutes good aesthetics, maybe even for all time or at least until the global holocaust. This may seem like over-exaggeration; the various niches are probably safe and have their own share of devotees, but the concern here is a more holistic one. The pernicious effect of the mainstream is ever-encroaching and greedy to suborn or devour all that lies in its path; the shift will not be abrupt but rather a result of a long and steady depredation of beauty and common sense.

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3 Responses to The death of aesthetic

  1. Anonymous says:

    The reality of racism is that it’s a socially conditioned behaviour.

    The ability to perceive otherness and add value judgements to it is a basic survival strategy in most intelligent animals. Example – snake bit and killed my buddy. This looks like a snake, smells like a snake, sounds like a snake; let me avoid it for fear of being fatally bitten.

    Beyond that, differing on the base of race alone, is socially conditioned human behaviour.

    Race is such a wide imprecise category, it makes no sense in the modern world we live in.

    One clear danger of allowing racism to continue to flourish in human behaviour is the affect it has on the recipient of the racism. Example – person of x colour in front of me, have heard persons of x colour are terrible dancers; will not choose persons of x colour for admittance to my dance school. If all persons of x colour are repeatedly not chosen to enter dance schools, the belief that they are not good dancers will be reinforced in them and they may stop trying to dance. Not only does that restrict their personal choice of self-expression to a narrow band of societally approved activities, it may further affect the evolution of that skill in that race.

    Restriction of personal freedom and restricted genetic development.

    A second clear danger is to the perpetrator of racism. Example – once hired person of xy colour to do some physical labour and they were bad at it, all persons of xy colour must be bad at physical labour, will not ever hire the same. Immediately this person has restricted their own options by eliminating an entire race from a certain work category. What if they were wrong? What if, because of this bias, they missed out on hiring the best ever physical labourer on the planet?

    Epic failure in appropriate use of resources.

    So to answer your questions:

    (1) ‘reality’ is that discrimination on the basis of race alone is not helpful to anyone.

    (2) Yes, making offensive racist expression verboten will go a long way in eradicating it, because the presence of such expressions keep perpetuating racist beliefs. The absence of such expressions create no loss.

    (3) Yes racism can be phased out of humanity’s collective consciousness through successive generations forcefully inoculated against hateful thought.

    That’s just my opinion anyhow.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Oops, comment on wrong post. Feel free to delete please 🙂

  3. Pingback: Oscar Wilde on the critic as artist | Old Disgruntled Bastard

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