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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
A great documentary about a common philosophy of beauty, how it is being desecrated, and how it can be saved or restored.


I agree entirely with this video. Can you be on one side and not oppose the other? I know this is like posting Machine-Hearts in INFP; so tell me if it's a repost, please.
 

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What a lovely thing a rose is!….There is nothing in which deduction is so necessary as in religion…It can be built up as an exact science by the reasoner. Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its colour are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers" -- Sherlock Holmes - "The Adventure of the Naval Treaty"
 

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I remember stepping outside the comfort of my home long ago. I distinctly remember the taste of the wind brushing against my face and the sun's rays warming me. It is an almost unearthly feeling. I felt beauty.

Do you think that the absence of beauty is what makes people depressed or down? Everywhere you go you see the same thing, you see ugliness. And you don't know what you are seeing but somehow you notice its absence.
 
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I remember stepping outside the comfort of my home long ago. I distinctly remember the taste of the wind brushing against my face and the sun's rays warming me. It is an almost unearthly feeling. I felt beauty.

Do you think that the absence of beauty is what makes people depressed or down? Everywhere you go you see the same thing, you see ugliness. And you don't know what you are seeing but somehow you notice its absence.
I think so... Being at work is not the best environment for me (military)... but it's this bamboo plant that I can just sit and stare at for hours that brings about this stillness inside of me that is just so overwhelming at times. It just depends on how much beauty is absence. Even something as small as a plant can bring you out of a depressing mode/environment. Very good point! :)
 

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I disagree. Beauty is subjective. Much of the art that others call beautiful does not make me feel anything, and is often boring or unimaginative by my personal standards. It feels meaningless because it says nothing to me. I acknowledge that it may be the expression of someone else's appreciation for a certain place, object, or person, and through that, it is art. If the same image were a photograph taken by a non-sentient creature, with no purpose and with no intent to share an idea or feeling, then it would not be art.

Art is art only as long as it is expressing something, whether that thing is a philosophical concept, a thought, a memory, an acknowledgement of something true, something desired, something imagined, or a certain feeling. It must be intentionally communicative, even if there is nobody to receive the communication. The things being expressed can be either true or untrue, positive or negative, and the quality of the subject of that expression can make it wrong or right. That is why some art is capable of being offensive. The quality of the methods of expression can make it effective or ineffective. That is why some art can be unskillful. Whether right or wrong, effective or ineffective, art is not art because of being beautiful, unless the art is attempting to communicate something about beauty. It is possible for art to be beautiful and meaningful all at once, but beauty alone is not sufficient without an expression behind it.

I rarely feel visual beauty unless it has a philosophical or emotional component, perhaps because of my being almost purely iNtuitive. I can imagine believing differently if I felt affected by beauty alone, but my disconnection from the aesthetic experience gives me a specific perspective that has caused me to think about this topic differently from how others might. I can acknowledge, when looking at something, like a flower or a sunset, that if someone else were there, that person might feel something from it, so I am aware that some people experience beauty, and I am able to guess what inspires it. I can guess which items are supposed to be beautiful, in order to share them with those who can feel them. When watching a sunset with someone, the thing that makes it beautiful to me is not the color of light, but the fact of knowing that the other person enjoys it, and is expressing appreciation. Meaning is interpersonal and emotional for me. I have only ever seen beauty vicariously, through someone else's perception of it. I feel beauty only when I empathize with another person's feeling about it. Even my own art, which is meant to express a certain feeling, is only beautiful when others feel it as beautiful.

I feel both sensual beauty and conceptual significance in music, but the two are not detached. There is always a feeling there, and the communication of a feeling is what makes it meaningful, not the specific detail of the sounds being arranged harmoniously. If it were just random pretty sounds that were not intended to make anyone feel anything or think anything, it would have no purpose, and would not be music at all. The sound of the wind in the leaves does not communicate. It is not music, because there is no intention of it saying anything or causing a person to think or feel. If someone recorded it and shared it in a new way that presented his feeling or thoughts about the experience of listening to it, or that was intended to make the listener ponder the idea of how meaning is formed, then it would be artistic expression.

The sound of a child banging randomly on piano keys without trying to express anything would not be music, but if one were to do it with the intention of trying to make others feel his internal discord, or trying to make them ponder some philosophical idea about how music was defined, then it would be. Intentionally causing negative feelings is enough to make random notes into music, as is intentionally causing someone to question the significance of the perception of the sound. Sound is not music until it is given meaning, and likewise, visual beauty is not art until it is given meaning.

The kind of art most commonly despised for its lack of beauty is meta-artistic. It is art that is only art because it causes people to question whether it is art. It is art, not through form, but through philosophy, and is self-referentially about whether it is possible for philosophy to be art, sometimes as a mockery of itself, or with the intention of expressing that the artist does not believe that the object he is using to express the idea is actually art. The aesthetes have been waging war against such art for a while now, which is unnecessary, because it is often already paradoxically self-nullifying, and makes itself art by expressing that it is not art.



In fact, the artists who create such works are often philosophically aligned with those who value true sensory experiences as having some intrinsic meaning, and believe there can be art that does not rely on expression, even if what they are creating as art is expressive and therefore somehow artificial to them.
 
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awesome documentary...im going to comment later after I thought about this :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
@snail

I don't think what you're saying is contrary. While the documentary was ironically, more about ugliness, it spent a lot of time talking about the philosophy of 'what beauty is', and you are actually agreeing with it. Art is an expression of the soul, and in my opinion, soul is a necessary component to art.

Keep in mind that we are talking about art in general. While you might require a more complicated connection with your art, some people (and you on occasion) enjoy more simple art. The architecture of an old building does capture a feeling, even if it's just a simple pattern. Maybe it's the security or comfort found in putting things in a calming, pleasing, and appealing order.

But can interesting, ironic, or upsetting images be considered art? They make us feel emotion and on occasion communicate with our souls, but (as he pointed out) they are just redressing the common themes that already make us feel strong, often positive emotion. Yes, we can redress anything and call it art as long as we feel it, but to do so irresponsibly and without taking it seriously is, in my opinion, a complete sin.

The philosopher didn't go as far as to say that the Artist's Shit wasn't art, but just that it wasn't beautiful, powerful, or soulful compared to more pleasing works. Even if the sculpture is simply making something appealing that he imagined, I prefer him over a pretentious modern artist attempting to disturb people in galleries with his work. I can do that easily; it takes no skill and has not much value or purpose at all. I'm sure you value your favorite symphony or album more than some kid slapping on a piano, even though the same emotion could have gone into it, theoretically.

I don't think that art philosophically questioning whether or not it is art is likely to be perceived as soulful in any way. Like he said, if thoughtfulness = art, then engineers and mathematicians are artists. If philosophy really gets your juices flowing, then maybe you could find some way to express that to others. That would take great artistic skill, and your work would undoubtedly be perceived as beautiful and aesthetically pleasing if it successfully conveyed these emotions.

Alternatively, If I were to make some art expressing how I felt like total shit, the feeling would be sympathy, understanding, and solidarity. Those are strongly positive things that could exist no matter how sad or miserable my expression.
 

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But can interesting, ironic, or upsetting images be considered art? They make us feel emotion and on occasion communicate with our souls, but (as he pointed out) they are just redressing the common themes that already make us feel good. Yes, we can redress anything and call it art as long as we feel it, but to do so irresponsibly and without taking it seriously is, in my opinion, a complete sin.

The philosopher didn't go as far as to say that the Artist's Shit wasn't art, but just that it wasn't beautiful, powerful, or soulful compared to true more pleasing works. Even if the sculpture is simply making something appealing that he imagined, I prefer it over a pretentious modern artist attempting to disturb people in galleries with his work. I can do that easily; it takes no skill and has not much value or purpose at all.
I understand that the "ugly" art that the narrator was referring to was mainly post-modern art of urinals, unmade-beds, and piles of shit, but I think it's presumptuous to think that pieces of art that aren't traditionally beautiful don't cause the same emotional impact as so-called ugly art. And I'm not talking about post-modern art, for example take a look some of Hieronymus Bosh's paintings:




These paintings are hardly the pinnacle of traditional beauty, they're depicting sordid acts of humans being eating, tortured and suffering in hell, while the second painting St. John The Baptist in The Wilderness, clearly shows St. John's despair and sadness at being betrayed and cast out. Yet there is something beautiful in these paintings despite their gory and unpleasant content. A reminder of a more dark and carnal side of humanity that constantly struggles with and fights with humanity's more positive and good side. "Ugly" art can be just as inspiring and paradoxically also beautiful, because of it's so-called ugly-ness. Sometimes as humans, we tend to forget we have a more lusty, passionate side, that is selfish, cruel, and gives way to some of the most nasty behaviours that humans exhibit. Art that can reveal the inner recesses of human nature, where all things dark and gory lurk have just the same amount of emotional impact as pieces of art that provoke feelings of delight and pleasure.

For the record, I am not a big fan of most post-modern art, and my issue with the documentary does not lay with his criticisms with it, but mostly how he constantly emphasizes how art and beauty should mainly inspire us to connect with a divine, and transcendental nature, and to turn our backs on the imperfection that is reality because reality is "ugly". It's fine to want to connect with something beyond the physical realm but not at the expense of acknowledging the concrete and physical world. Yes the real world is blemished, and human beings can be unpleasant things but the concrete world is closely tied to the abstract realm of ideas because the former helps provide input to the latter to generate new ideas and concepts. You need the ugliness of reality to inspire a need for beauty, feelings of despair to want happiness, and so on. This guy seems to think that beauty, love, happiness, harmony, and peace are self-generating, independent from chaos, sadness, despair, ugliness.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
@Harley

I agree with you. He did actually touch on all that. Most works of art are going to be a complicated mix, not strictly beautiful or ugly. I personally don't care for the ugly visuals in those pictures though. It kind of pains me to look at it. I guess the greater ability to find meaning in things makes a person more artistic. I'm looking at that and it just looks like a mess; I don't understand what is happening there.
 

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@snail: My perception is similar to yours, when it comes to visual art vs. music. But I'm not very visually oriented, either. I just can't tell why one picture isn't like all the other pictures. It might be because I'm more aware of the emotional content in music, but it might also be because I'm more attuned to what I hear.
 

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Wow I can't believe I just sat here for an hour and watched that whole thing, but I guess I did it because in the beginning he said he was going to teach us how to regain a certain spirituality in our lives through beauty. I wanted him to teach me, but he never got that far.

I did enjoy that and I agreed with most of the things that he said, but I am not good at putting my thoughts into words, and I don't want to argue.

So I guess my point is, thanks for posting this :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Wow I can't believe I just sat here for an hour and watched that whole thing, but I guess I did it because in the beginning he said he was going to teach us how to regain a certain spirituality in our lives through beauty. I wanted him to teach me, but he never got that far.

I did enjoy that and I agreed with most of the things that he said, but I am not good at putting my thoughts into words, and I don't want to argue.

So I guess my point is, thanks for posting this :)
Too many people will point out exactly what's wrong, and offer nothing to fix it. I think by "how to regain a certain spirituality" he meant, "Now, you can go regain a certain spirituality yourself." This can be dumb and frustrating. However, in this instance I don't think you can get specific instructions.

I'm not arguing, just replying. Thanks for commenting.
 
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