Beauty and Art Over the


Beauty and Art

Over the past few days I have had these two prevailing concepts in mind as I have written. Such interest has led to discussion elsewhere on related matters that has been both vexing and quite profitable--vexing in that it takes so long to internalize and profitable in that I have begun to understand the theory of systems. My thoughts regarding beauty and art are yet incomplete--just forming the shadow of a surface--the vaguest appearance of outline. And it seems in proper order to first make some provisional stab at defining and understanding beauty.

In recent posts here and here and here, Dylan has posited a theory of beauty that started in a very appealing fashion. His original designation defined four types of beauty corresponding to four aspects of love. This kind of resolution has a wonderful parallelism and symmetry guaranteed to appeal to a mind with the interior landscape of my own (think The Pharmacist of Ampurdan in Search of Absolutely Nothing or any of the canvases of Yves Tanguy). However, there is also a part of me deeply suspicious of any such attempt--it suggest more the pattern-finding quality of the human mind than the actual reality of the nature of beauty. In subsequent discussion, Dylan further modifies this theory--his comments are worthy of your perusal. But the discussion of types, like the questionnaire that I had somewhat earlier, doesn't really get at the heart of what beauty is in a way that satisfactorily allows one to address the question of art and its quality. All of these raise questions about beauty, but provide no resolutions. Nor, for my purposes does the general intent of St. Thomas's definition--though truth to tell I have not explored that in all of its ramifications. Thus, I do not reject what he has to say, I cannot for I do not know it well enough, but the sense of what he has to say does not allow me to answer the question I have at heart--"How does one evaluate properly a piece of art?"

What I did find most interesting and fascinating is that there were some pieces on the questionnaire on which every respondent agreed. Also, interesting that the question of beauty rarely arises in the study of modern art. Ron at The 7 Habitus has gone so far as to say that no modern masterpieces are being written. I do not know if I wholly agree, but I do sympathize to a large extent.

So, this is a new beginning to my discussion in which I will look at the results of the questionnaire, those bits and pieces of St. Thomas that I have looked into, Dylan's provisional division, and other aspects to see if there can be a satisfactory definition of beauty.

Actually, that is untrue--I suppose I should admit to what my purpose is. You've already seen signs of it on my comments on the pieces of art and music that I have laid out. I have already drawn a conclusion regarding beauty, and I am seeking a way to work backward from the conclusion to see if a logical chain can be made to a reasonable definition. If not, the conclusion must be abandoned, but if so, we have a reasonable explanation of beauty.

So here is a provisional definition of beauty--beauty consists of that which is in some way pleasing to the senses and/or intellect, which acts as a definitive signpost pointing toward God, and in which both goodness and truth predominate. (This latter part because I suppose I must believe there is some aspect of good in all creation; however, I will not be swayed by the argument that this good is enough to make something beautiful--there must be more). I think I will find much in what Dylan is saying and in other comments that is compatible with this theory. Perhaps, too, there will be much that is not. There is part of me that looks toward revelation to let us know what beauty is, and another part that seeks to better understand so that it is not merely a subjective evaluation.

Strange how much of this grew out of the claim that "Latin is objectively more beautiful than English." Never know which hammer tap will loose the artesian spring.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on January 21, 2003 8:31 AM.

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