(Or why you shouldn't write papers when you haven't slept and had a bit to drink)
Apologies for the complete disregard for this thing, but yeah, school bullshit as you'll witness in just a moment. Before I delve into this vexing essay, of love lost and old Mel Gibson movies (the kind where he still has his accent, see Galipoli as well...) This will also be a good indication of all the valuable nuggets of knowledge I've acquired from my "Humanities through the arts" class.
For the tens of people who may actually see this, if you're a little confused, let me elucidate. You've probably heard of "Art History" or "Philosophy" right? If not, I'm going to have to start using words like 'elucidate' more often to scare you 'tards off. Fuck Your Blog is a classy place, not for slouches. Anyway... If you were to take Art History and combine it with Psychology and Anthropology and then throw it into a pair of women's pants and give it a portfolio. Art school approved!
Here it is. The essay that will undoubtedly gain me the disgust of the network of dudes who gave up on being artists or philosophers or personal assistants to Brett Butler of "Grace Under Fire" fame; and became Professors who teach this class.
I apologize for the lack of any formatting what so ever. You can save yourself time and download it, just don't pay attention to the name...
August 7, 2008
Humanities Though the Arts
My Aesthetic Theory
There’s an old cliché that states “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” and in relation to my thoughts on Aesthetics, I’m inclined to agree. Without being bombarded by pleasant things on a constant basis, one develops a certain appreciation for such luxuries when exposed to them. As long as the indulgence of said luxuries is not on a consistent basis, the purveyor of fine things is titillated in each of their applicable senses. For example, one who is aware of the mastery involved in a famous painting will savor gazing upon the fine art found in a Museum, provided it is not a routine excursion. One who constantly sleeps late will be able to find beauty in the sun’s ascension into the sky above, feeling delight in its warmth and awe at its majestic glow. The calculated notes in a grand symphony or opera will move a music aficionado, hanging onto every note as the sounds fill their ears with harmonious elation. All these things and more, though perceived as beautiful, even awe-inspiring, can become pedestrian with over exposure. Just as one begins to feel sick or retain weight after eating too much, it is not impossible to have too much of these normally breathtaking things. While your waistline may not expand as the aforementioned effects of gluttony, it is far more perilous to the enlightened part of the brain that decides what is pleasant and what is not, in the sense of aesthetics at least. As modern day inhabitants of the world, we look past the towering skyscrapers and near-infallible suspension bridges though they too are no less amazing than a Renoir or Monet. These are things most people see every day of their lives; there is nothing special about them anymore. This is why I believe my aesthetic theory lies within the absence of beauty, when the only thing to admire is the bitter lack of all that is green and glowing. It is in the absence of structure and in the visceral nature of mankind that indeed provide the source of beauty, inspiration, hope, and survival. It is the animalistic and savage will inherent in all human beings that command charge when there is nothing soft and nice left to gaze upon and social Darwinism is put to the test.
Dystopia: A society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding. Some would say this is what awaits us in the future; others seek comfort in rose-colored glasses, peering through cups supposedly half full. Whether through Hieronymous Bosche’s “Garden of Earthly Delights” or Dante’s Divine Comedy, the end of the world as we know it (pardon the REM reference) is an idea that has been ruminated through the ages rather extensively. Though many theological tomes predict divine retribution; Judgment Day; The Rapture, it cannot be proven any more factually sound than Harlon Ellison’s novella “A Boy and his Dog.” As nations grow stronger, bombs get larger, and priorities shift, the threat of complete annihilation or apocalypse are ever present.
While it is not a new topic by any means, the depiction of such catastrophic events has similarly grown in sophistication. No epic poems grace the New York Times best sellers list. Near as few as that are the people that read conventional books at all in the technological age we now inhabit. Why bother carrying around a dog eared paperback when you can simply download a piece of literature to some electronic device that fits in your pocket or can be clipped to a belt? Though it would be wholly untrue to say that films pertaining to the desolate and bleak future human kind may one-day face are not made for profit and entertainment, there is a slight cautionary air about them that simply cannot be avoided. While any film of this less than prestigious genre, or at least any worth mentioning, are beginning to show their age, it is hard not to associate the plight in such movies with those the world currently faces. The gas shortage world wide as seen in 1982’s “The Road Warrior,” Rampant consumerism shown vividly (albeit somewhat comically) in John Carpenter’s 1988 film “They Live,” or the effect of an over zealous Christian president in the 1996 film “Escape from LA.”
These aren’t films that typically win Oscars or other accolades from mainstream society. While their dialogue can be over dramatized, or the explosions and costumes a bit too overdone, their audiences are shown something that is impossible to paint upon a canvas or to scribe onto a scale. It is true that almost all the stories told involve the same archetypal ‘Reluctant Hero’ quixotically searching for something or someone, each one is dynamic in his own way. Though these heroes, which is a term to be used lightly at best, may be cut from the same cloth they all have separate motives for the course of action they choose. Max of Mad Max fame began as a police officer only to become the shadowy stranger in “The Road Warrior” and “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome” Snake Plisskin, of “Escape from New York” and “Escape from LA” is a disgraced soldier who must choose his life or his integrity. Vic from “A Boy and his Dog” is simply a wanderer of the post world war three wastelands who becomes a pawn for an underground cult who entice the young man with their plan to use him as a breeder to sustain the population of their colony, which is more or less his only reason to live to begin with.
Society is dependent on its people, without a populous to rule there can be no ruling class. Without laws there is no order and without order there is chaos. While all this may be true, without museums can there be no art? Without instruments can one not enjoy a melody? Without seeing the sunrise or sunset, can a person not still draw energy from its rays? These are the things we take for granted; in our sprawling metropolises, while traveling through the vast caverns of subway tunnels or upon the never ending asphalt of our roads. Perhaps the minimalist designs of our skyscrapers, hospitals, office buildings, and schools do not draw the same attention as the archaic arches of gothic churches or the splendor of the great-domed cathedrals. What would it take to reinstate the awe once held by these structures? Overly eager use of the metaphorical “Big Red Button” and the ensuing nuclear holocaust or perhaps an unyielding assault from the elements; a vengeful God or moody Mother Nature at the helm. The lack of seeing such things would surely remind those who have become ungreatful for such modern wonders, as those afflicted in aforementioned films, of the true meaning of beauty.
Humankind has always prided itself on rationality; and though it has and will continue to be debated, there are a number of things we hold true to separate us from animals, though the ability to create art seems to be the most appropriate for this discussion. Our uncanny ability to decide what is good or bad, pleasurable or unpleasant, right or wrong. From the style of painting, to the way we do our hair, mankind has certainly come a long way from its humble beginnings, either as apes or children of Adam and Eve. However, without the gilded framed paintings in the marble floored museums we so pride ourselves on being privileged to, what more is there to humans but flesh and bone and the inherent trait of destruction.