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Posts Tagged ‘Aesthetics’

I am Seeing Eye an Ambassador-at-large. No big deal, I tell you. The Big Spirit sent me as with Appetite, another spirit,- you don’t see him unless you are spreading a feast. Over there you shall see my comrade who cannot get enough of anything to be heard. While man over there is blowing the thigh bone of an antelope, he is all shook up, But I am on my way to check out the caves in Dordogne France. For me art of man is a big deal. I almost wished I could have been a man for Lascaux was beyond belief. Ever since it is writ large across my Spirit world.
I watched this statue in marble, by Phidias and the Parthenon,- and I will be blowed if ever I could chisel my way around a block of stone. What beauty! what elan! I almost cried for vexation. Only if I were a man! Many of my fellow-spirits tried to say the carnage at Marathon, Salamis, burning of Persepolis was an error in judgment. Oh no the seeing eye shall not feel a thing except a work of art. It must come from somewhere, O man, you be godlike,- sacking of Rome or Constantinople is child’s play. But tell me, where have you hidden the key to your art? There is the village of Guernica and airmen like swarms of gnats go to it,-it is being pulverized! It is a sight, I admit. But Picasso,- but I don’t know the fellow, his canvass almost made my gorge rise. His rage almost became mine. Impossible I cannot feel but with my eye, -even with smoke and ashes flying around. I feel my eye smarting but where is art! it shall salve my eye. I shall not complain.
Ah now I see the entire earth going up in smoke. One big conflagration and nothing but tongues of fire,- united colors of Benetton as the fella said, white heat blue orange palette of floating tints surfing the shock waves again and again. No masterpiece more worthy of man I suppose I shall ever see. What the hell I just witnessed his art.
Benny

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One day Miletus came home with a beautiful head of Hypnos. He showed it to his guardian, Iadmon. Aesop was present at that time. “Isn’t it beautiful! A head cast in bronze! The slant of that loose headband… Look at those eyelids heavy, almost drooping with sleep… The head tells it all.”
Iadmon scowled and said: “But what on earth one can use a mere head for? Either the piece should tell a story or must be of precious metal so it can be sold for a profit, if ever need arises”. Without much ado he walked towards his shop to direct his fellows who had brought in goods. As a parting shot he said, pointing to the sacks of barley being brought in: “Those are real! Each measure of barley sold is money in your pocket.”
The boy looked at Aesop as if to say that his guardian was impossible. “Let us leave him to his barley”, the boy said.
Aesop took the head of Hypnos and said: “My master is simple in matters of Art. He needs to be entertained or edified. If he has a head for business he could have one for art as well. He can forecast which goods will fetch more money and he knows to hold it till he can get a better price. He is not taken in by smart talk of the agents. Then having a head for business is enough for some. They have not developed from that stage. They are like those specimens you find in circus; they are born that way. Still, freak they are. This is how one is when one hasn’t cultivated beyond mere living”.
Miletus who trusted in his judgment and asked him whether it would have been better if the sculptor had cast the entire body as well.
“As you observed rightly in the beginning: the head conveyed all that was there to convey. We observe the head and can fill in parts left out by the sculptor. This is where my master cannot enter. Only the initiated can enter into the mysteries that Art has for such folks like you and me. The artist though dead still speaks to us. His art is the medium. Think how clever the sculptor of this piece is. He needed only a head to convey that moment one drifts into sleep, with such clarity.”
benny

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An Armenian in Paris

Rabbi Benn Weiss followed me close as we made for the exit. ‘I love Art and I know what I like,’ he had said while staring at the canvasses long and hard.
We came out into the sunshine. He asked, ‘What makes Beauty? Is it what is unattainable?’
I nodded. My companion asked, ‘Beauty! Is it because it speaks truth?’
‘Oh yes!’ I said appreciatively, ‘Rabbi, you know the words beauty, art and truth already. Only I need to teach how these connect one another. Once you know how you could be a professional art critic if you want to.’
As we crossed the busy street to the Metro in front of an art store, my companion was for buying a few books to get himself started. ‘Forget books. Forget what that guide at the Gallery was telling you.’ I told him, ‘She was far out Rabbi, but she was a peach.’
Rabbi Benn Weiss glared at me at which I suddenly stopped short. Next moment I called out, ‘See that old lady!’
I told him that I was going to explain art using her as a living example.
My companion who had his eye full of Rubenesque ladies looked at me aghast. ‘See her back is curved and how she leans on her stick?’
‘Is that beauty?’ my friend was skeptical.
‘Why not?’ I asked, ‘Does beauty only reside in a fine form and youth?’ ‘Or does it in my perception of it?’
I was in the mood to explain. ‘Think Rabbi Weiss, I do not know her from Adam. How come I suddenly think of my grandmother who has been dead for ages?’
‘She was most precious to me.’ I felt a lump in my throat and said, ‘This old woman represents a kind of truth to me. Because she is not a trick played on my eye I take it, she is a real human being’.
‘So she stands for truth,’ the Rabbi nodded his head appreciatively.
Rabbi intoned, ’But she is an ugly truth. Old Age is real and makes scarecrows…’
I cut in, ’That is besides the point. My grandmother, dead grandmother represents Truth and she is unattainable’.
‘So dying makes one beautiful?’ the rabbi wanted to know.
Ignoring it I explained, ‘Yet this frail woman down on her last legs brought her image to me.’
I knew Rabbi Benn Weiss didn’t understand me. So I said the truth this old woman carried, went radical changes to impress upon me truth of something else.’
The rabbi said, ’I never knew your grandmother was so important to you.’
I nodded gravely and said, ’I carry that loss. She can no longer make me feel good with her smile and words. But that old decrepit woman out of the blue made me reach that higher sphere, is no longer an idea but real.’
‘Aha,’ the rabbi said with a smile, ‘the old woman represents Beauty in the way she could make her truth connected with something else.’
‘Not just something, but my grandmother!’
‘Yes, if you say so, if you say so.’ he said impressed, ‘why don’t you write to your parents for a change? You can sms them if you want to.’
I said my art of life made me unattainable. ‘My parents want me to be still connected. So would the bill collector’.
‘I want to be alone, as said by the burglar to the cop,’ intoned the rabbi.

benny

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It was Oscar Wilde who set out to show purpose of art and life are entirely different things. Art according to him has no moral duty to make life nobler or meaningful anymore than life lived in a certain manner can redeem artists to create masterpieces . Far from art imitating life Wilde holds that art sets the aesthetic principles by which people perceive life. What is found in life and nature is not what is really there, but is that which artists have taught people to find there, through art. “there may have been fogs for centuries in London”, people have only “seen” the “wonderful brown fogs that come creeping down our streets, blurring the gas lamps and turning houses into shadows” because “poets and painters have taught [people] the loveliness of such effects”. “They did not exist”, asserts Wilde, “till Art had invented them.( Decay of Lying )” Do we not conjure up the starry sky of Van Gogh when we see the night sky? Emotional impact of the Dutch artist is a supreme example of art that can extend our vision and for me it is a good thing to accept every day life seen at an altered state, as it were. It does not make my aches and pains any less than that are, a natural ageing body heir to. I can at least console myself that I live among the greatest, the best and loveliest tokens of the feast of life though being dyspeptic I may not touch anything other than dry bread and lentil soup.
This evening I listened to Puccini’s Tosca and I could not help thinking how the music could transport me as easily to an altered state as though I was hearing it for the first time! It is a tale of revenge and lust in which Baron Scarpia lusts for Tosca and in the heart of intrigue is the lover of Tosca who is condemned to die before a firing squad. The hapless man looking at the stars fading off one by one as the dawn breaks, sings an exquisite aria E lustevan stele. It brought me memories of a film Le Jour sa Leve that had moved me intensely. Gabin a working class hero is cornered in his claustrophobic room in which every object takes on a special significance. The cigarette and smoke spiral that goes up is harbinger of doom. It is only matter of hours before the police are going to shoot him dead. Whenever I see it in my mind’s eye I recall the music from opera as though it belongs there.
Aesthetics of art has ability to alter the tenor of life where man’s responses to his environment can be made more intense since his resources are drawn from secret recesses to which reality has no clue whatsoever.
Benny

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Beauty is in the beholder’ eyes it is said. This implies personal preference and it is evident from various cultural artifacts left to us. Evolutionary Aesthetics is a hold- all for such preferences where some have tended to see a conflict of nature versus nurture.
Aesthetic preference is something that ultimately varies from person to person. Whether it is culturally taught or branded into our genetic makeup, preferences for beauty, style, and other characteristics of aesthetics can all be linked back to preferences. Broadly, scholars define aesthetics as “critical reflection on art, culture and nature.”(Zangwill Nick-1998/Aesthetic judgment) and in this short essay I shall keep my focus on the core value that must give all that philosophical ideas expressed from Aristotle down to James Joyce a basis. Truth is one world much maligned and yet as human beings we cannot swear by any thing else. For a simple illustration when a President takes office the oath is administerd to him on a Bible wherein he is required to uphold truth. But if he told truth away will he not jeopardize the national security? As a statesman said truth must be protected by a tissue of lies. Nations managing their fortunes not having the foggiest notions about their bearings sail through the mists of uncertainty and must steer clear of others. They cannot afford to tell truth. Instead their captains signal to one another hoping to gain some advantage. They emphazise on relative truth, which is fit neither here, above nor below. Yet it somehow works. Why? Our middle state cannot handle Truth the absolute quality that we ascribe to God.
Betwixt and Between

Zeus was once traveling accompanied by his daughter Athena. He was struck by the beauty of a sculpture and asked whose work it was. The goddess of Wisdom said,” Phidias.” Admiring it for a while he asked his daughter,” You are perfection in wisdom. Why can’t you then do some thing like that- a work of beauty?”
Athena laughed,” I, a goddess- work? Why waste my time?” The eagle which always accompanied the goddess whispered in Zeus’ ear, “ If she were to work it would mean her godly wisdom lacked something.”
“ Oh?”
“ That means she wouldn’t be perfect. Would it not?” the winged bird asked. Zeus could understand.
The sculptor was after all a mortal trying to achieve perfection in some area as best as he could. The bird looked at the sculpture with a critical eye and said,” Look at that index finger of the discuss-thrower. Shorter by a hairbreadth, – it would have been just perfect!”
Zeus snapped,” Phidias made it for his kind and for the praise of gods!”
benny

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