Friday, July 31, 2009

Untitled

I went to the MOA today to check out some of the art down below. I saw the Walter Wick exhibit and strolled by the "American Dreams" room, and found some time to look at some 'Untitled' art by Dan Steinhilber. It was great, i liked it. The piece that really caught me and dragged me in to the exhibit was composed of melted black and white trash bags onto a surface, with the blue tie string present throughout. It was creative bordering on cliché, but also very expressive.


I think the best part came as I was entering the MOA. I have been growing quite self-conscience of my should bag, due to recent persecution. The man at the desk didn't help. I walked up and put my bag on the desk and said, "Where do I check this in, I know bags aren't allowed in here", to which he replied, "Oh, it's OK, bags aren't allow but purses are. Go on in". The worst part was that he wasn't even trying to joke around. He was serious.

Here are some works from the exhibit:

-Untitled by Dan Steinhilber
This entire thing is made of Duck Sauce packets. I don't know if you can see it in this picture, but somehow he generated the effect of waves along the canvas. Each packet had a black dot (for packaging reasons) in one corner, and he aligned those appropriately to give the piece texture. It is displayed on a black wall with one dominant light shining down onto the center of the frame. I guess lighting is key here, because it gives it a new texture that the packets themselves can't produce. You might ask how the context of the piece matches its form? Don't ask me.


-Untitled by Dan Steinhilber
All of his pieces are untitled. I found that appropriate. He didn't really create anything he displayed, he only just manipulated to express it. He didn't invent the plastic chair, but he turns our attention away from context, and asks us to simply contemplate its form. This here consists of 2 stacks of chairs piled upside-down on top of each other. Makes me think of Tetris®, kindof. If you completely disregard the fact that you are staring at 2 stacks of piled chairs, then the piece is actually very aestetically pleasing.

The exhibit brought once again the question to my mind, what is art? And if all those things are art, then we live and associate with art more often than we realize. Every time we pick up a trash bag to shake it out, every time we make our bed, or turn on a light, or even when we open and administer Taco Bell Mild Sauce® over our Chicken Quesadilla, we are creating a little piece of art that has never been produced in quite that way. Although it won't make it to the MOA exhibit, it will keep life a little more vibrant. Keep making art the best way you know how.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thank Goodness for Chapter 13

I was wondering when this unit was going to roll around. We marched through Painting and Sculpture, Architecture and Ballet, Opera and Greek Theater, even Bauhäuser and Greek Deities. Music is the only thing that stands between Humanities 101 and the brief study of film. Yes, we are finally approaching film and I can hardly contain myself. I have been having flashbacks of TMA 102 and regrettably realized I've forgotten a lot.

I don't think I could adequately describe to anyone why I enjoy film so much. Music hits you right in your very core and leaves your foot tapping, but film hits you at every receptor and leaves your hands clapping. I met a french man once with whom I discussed the subject of religion, and responded to the question 'where are you going now' by saying, "This conversation, like after listening to a great piece of music, or experiencing theater, or a good film, requires a long walk, deep in thought". I really like walking out of a darkened theater after being asked for 2 hours to subconsciously ask myself, "what does this mean?"

A beautifully crafted film beginning with great characters and their developments, furthering of the plot by means of subtle rising action, the ultimate collapse or realization of conflict at the climax, followed by appropriate denouement, with striking cinematography throughout, is all a guy can ask for. It should ideally answer a question of the human predicament, or at least help us in producing more refined questions. I don't think any other medium of art has the capacity to be philosophical than film has.

A quote by Ingmar Bergman:
"A film for me begins with something very vague--a chance remark or a bit of conversation, a hazy but agreeable event unrelated to any particular situation. These are split second impressions that disappear and leave behind a mood--like pleasant dreams. It is a mental state, and not an actual story, but one abounding in fertile associations and images. Most of all, it i a brightly colored thread sticking out of a dark sack of the unconscious. If I begin to wind up this thread, and do it carefully, a complete film will emerge."

Monday, July 27, 2009

Neo-Futurism and Art

Ever heard of the Futurist Movement? Originated in the 20th Century Italian cities? Headed by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and his precarious Futurist Manifesto. The Manifesto is a must read. I have it here, compliments of Wikipedia, in case you must read it:

Manifesto of Futurism

  1. We intend to sing the love of danger, the habit of energy and fearlessness.

  2. Courage, audacity, and revolt will be essential elements of our poetry.

  3. Up to now literature has exalted a pensive immobility, ecstasy, and sleep. We intend to exalt aggresive action, a feverish insomnia, the racer’s stride, the mortal leap, the punch and the slap.

  4. We affirm that the world’s magnificence has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing car whose hood is adorned with great pipes, like serpents of explosive breath—a roaring car that seems to ride on grapeshot is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.

  5. We want to hymn the man at the wheel, who hurls the lance of his spirit across the Earth, along the circle of its orbit.

  6. The poet must spend himself with ardor, splendor, and generosity, to swell the enthusiastic fervor of the primordial elements.

  7. Except in struggle, there is no more beauty. No work without an aggressive character can be a masterpiece. Poetry must be conceived as a violent attack on unknown forces, to reduce and prostrate them before man.

  8. We stand on the last promontory of the centuries!... Why should we look back, when what we want is to break down the mysterious doors of the Impossible? Time and Space died yesterday. We already live in the absolute, because we have created eternal, omnipresent speed.

  9. We will glorify war—the world’s only hygiene—militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for woman.

  10. We will destroy the museums, libraries, academies of every kind, will fight moralism, feminism, every opportunistic or utilitarian cowardice.

  11. We will sing of great crowds excited by work, by pleasure, and by riot; we will sing of the multicolored, polyphonic tides of revolution in the modern capitals; we will sing of the vibrant nightly fervor of arsenals and shipyards blazing with violent electric moons; greedy railway stations that devour smoke-plumed serpents; factories hung on clouds by the crooked lines of their smoke; bridges that stride the rivers like giant gymnasts, flashing in the sun with a glitter of knives; adventurous steamers that sniff the horizon; deep-chested locomotives whose wheels paw the tracks like the hooves of enormous steel horses bridled by tubing; and the sleek flight of planes whose propellers chatter in the wind like banners and seem to cheer like an enthusiastic crowd.
So, with that ridiculous manifesto, here is some of the Theatrical Art produced by the Neo-Futurists of our beloved generation.

video

Other videos of Neo-Futuristic Theater consists of lights flashing, people talking absurdities, and sporadic dancing. It is speed in its essence. I picked this video, not necessarily for its content, but for its style. It is quick acting, quintessential of the movement. Read into the meaning and you might find some extra ties. Here is some Futurist sculpture art:

Friday, July 24, 2009

Pioneer Art Display

Today, I decided to take part in an Exhibit of Art at a Pioneer Festival on the 24th. It was comprised of pictures dating back into the late 1800's of early Provo settlements.




Aside from the covered wagons, tee-pees, carved statues of pioneers, and bonnets galore, I enjoyed most the classic rock band dressed in pioneer clothing. They even sang songs with lyrics about contemporary pioneers.

I am lured sometimes into thinking, "well, these are historical photographs and only exist to let us know what things looked like back then". I forget that the photographers here probably had just as must artistic drive as photographers today. I'm sure their main goal in capturing this moment, was not to show to generations in advance, but to truly capture that moment in time.

There were pictures of people in lines, posing for the camera. Buildings that complimented the dirty country-side. Photos of old downtown Provo. All displayed on wooden easels on the grass under white canopies.

One cheer for the pioneers and the photographers who captured things.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Refreshed.

Lately, I have been feeling the 'strain of the arts' as I'd like to call it. We just got through a very rigorous unit of Ballet, Modern Dance, and Architecture which wasn't favorable to my artistic psyche. I was burnt out. I think it must have physically shown on my face in class, because I deservedly got 9/10 on participation points this week. It became very apparent to me in the preceding days that I needed to 'freshen up', as it were. 

I asked myself, "why?" What had changed? Why was I not so excited for lines, and movement, and the Arts anymore? I came to the conclusion (a very important conclusion for me) that it was because i had FORGOTTEN. I forgot about the Philosophy of Humanities that had me so excited at the beginning of the term. It was an important epiphany for me, because I think I realized 'my call' to philosophy. I loved the first 2 chapters of my Humanities book, and would like to etch these words in the 'text editor stone tablets' of my blog. If you forget about the Philosophy of any given subject, then you forget about your purpose for breathing that given subject in daily.

"Cultural literacy is a worthy goal for all human beings; it is second in importance to literacy itself." I think it was half-way through architecture when I forgot my purpose for learning about the arts, and it was definitely during Modern Dance where I got angry about it. We are not there to necessarily like Art, or even comprehend it really, we are there to understand what another being is trying to express. Learning to appreciate it and letting it inspire you are worthy goals. Choosing art that we like immediately over art that is, so to speak, an "acquired taste" would be like choosing to eat oreos at every meal, rather than the occasional salad, because oreos delight the tongue every time. We need to let ourselves be nourished.

"Parents should send their young to college not, as at present, mainly to acquire highly salable skills or to earn good livings, but solely for the purpose of becoming cultured human beings." Those past two quotes were from my text book. I mean, I know it is a bit idealized (highly idealized), but when our goal becomes money or grtification then our pathway becomes so darn dull. 

To say it in terms of social research, I'll use some words from Neil Postman (thanks to Ty). Postman wrote concerning the root of doing research. He claimed it was not to better the field of a particular researcher found himself in, it wasn't to enrich the textbooks of other similar studies, or even to add credit to a career, he said:
"What is the purpose of such research? - the answer is not, obviously, to contribute to our field, but to contribute to human understanding and decency. For the most part, novelists do not write to enrich the field of novel-writing. The good ones write because they are angry or curious or cynical or enchanted. The Scarlet Letter was not written by a man who wanted to improve the art of the novel, but by a man who wanted to improve the art of living together.”

Whew, I think I am refreshed from yet another close call with intolerance and complacency. I know what has been lacking. It is such a small step in the walk of inspiration, but it is one of the more tiring. It is summed up in this quote from my textbook, "A truly 'general' education invites us to develop the emotions in tandem with the intellect. This can happen only if we are willing to spend some leisure time reading, thinking, and even daydreaming."

Search, Ponder, and Pray. Read, Think, and Daydream. Learn, Contemplate, and be inspired.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It's my dance, and I'll Interpret it if I want to.

This week kicked off our studies of dance in the Humanities. It has drained me of nearly all I've got. Dance is great and all, but I just don't revere it. I just hear "mumbo jumbo" when people talk about interpreting dance. And worse, I just think "crazy" when I see people like Isadora Duncan jumping around, failing her arms, and screaming some nonsense about 'solar plexus' and what not. I appreciated the unit about Ballet, but I am glad that today we moved on in the course material. I came upon this video as I was thinking about modern art. I think it is dance inspired by one boy's interpretation of a painting. It's simple, why complicate it?

video

We also watched Thriller (Michael Jackson) in class and I recommend to all those who haven't watched it in awhile, that you take a trip down to youtube.com and tune in for your viewing pleasure. It put a kick in my step the past couple days, and a bit of groove in my otherwise stagnant hips.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Fauvism at its Bestism

To your left you are going to see one of the more famous painting in the movement commonly known as "Fauvism". This painting (Portrait of Madame Matisse) is by Henri Matisse, who was a leader of the movement along with André Derain. Ok, let me quote Wikipedia just one more time. Fauvism can be seen as an approach to Expressionism (seeing as Matisse was inspired by Van Gogh). It encorporate "wild brush work and strident colors". The paintings are normally very simple in nature and composition (and I've noticed a lot of portraits).




I figure the best way for us to get a good idea of what Fauvism really is, we just need to see and observe a couple works under this particular "ism". Here goes:

André Derain by Henri Matisse
-I would say the identifying factor of this portrait is that of the author's name. Anything Matisse is all Fauvist.
 

Fauvism Flowers by Karen Fields
-If the title wasn't clue enough, the exquisite color and power of this piece would give you clues as to its Fauvist nature. The aim of all Fauvists was to employ the use of light and power.

Light and power?

Another highly expressionistic Fauvist painting. You would never see such color display in a harbor in reality. It challenges our already acquired knowledge of color and intensity.


Fauvism celebrates pure colors. As I read it from the internet: "Simplified designs combined in an orgy of pure colours dominate Fauvism." There you have it.


Woman With a Hat, 1905 by Henri Matisse

It is interesting how her face is a mixture of reds, and yellows, purples, blues, and I think I even saw a green in there. Matisse is not interested in mixing a perfect pallet to disguise the colors he's used. 

What is the advantage in such a technique? I mean, there must be something behind the phrase, "show them your true colors". If a color can represent a virtue, a vice, an attitude, a feeling or emotion, then why not paint the colors right on their faces? 

Friday, July 17, 2009

StandingStillStanding

Last night I went to the quaint Provo Theater for a production of a play called Standing Still Standing. A brief plot synopsis:

The story of Ben and Grace, a young married couple. Ben (lead) has a chronic illness called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which means he sleeps all day. The story is a struggling newly married couple, overcoming his illness, while trying to progress and find happiness in life. There is fighting, there is laughing, and there is most definitely loving.

I wish I could provide you with some pictures of the performance, but you can imagine how hard it is to try and take pictures when you're front row, 3 feet away from the actors, and not feel awkward. So, no pictures.

As I mentioned, we walking into the darkened room of the Provo Theater and i noticed that seats were full in the "normal", middle section of the audience. We chose to sit in the "abnormally" close seats on the front row where your knees hit the stage if you slouch too much, and you make uncomfortable eye contact with the cast when they accidentally look at you during a monologue. 

Characters were gradually introduced. We welcomed Ben first as he slept on the foldaway couch, and secondly Grace(his wife), as she woke him up from sleeping. The writing kept your interest and the acting was mostly entertaining. The script had that dry, sarcastic, 'drama' humor, which I appreciated. Information on Ben's illness came out slowly as he joined a group on facebook and 'chatted' with another female CFS (Chronic Fatigue) sufferer who lived miles away. I thought this scene was creative, as both actor and actress sat on opposing side of the stage and talked out their typed words. Plot came as this girl (Rachel, azure_skies_80) explained how she copes with the illness and doesn't let it govern her life, WHILE Ben let it consume his. 

Dream sequences were frequent in a play of Chronic tiredness. Two guys and an older lady were the entire ensemble. The best dream sequence came after Ben and Grace (antagonists, married couple) had fought and Ben left home for a week. He dreamt that Grace was being married to Billy Joel by the Pope. I love secondary action. As Ben discussed with other bystanders (foreground action) the Pope was putting Grace's and Billy Joel's hands on each others and making them play the game where you try and slap the tops of the other person's hands. It was simple but I didn't laugh harder at any other part.

The complication and crisis of the plot came as Ben received a job offer from a friend, which their little family was in desperate need of, but didn't accept because  he'd grown comfortable sleeping all day. The crisis came as the guy called and Grace heard the conversation on the answering machine. The climax, however, came as Ben and Rachel planned on making a scandalous first rendezvous at a Seattle cafe. Rachel found out that Ben was married, after he vented about the situation, and told him to "go talk TO his wife, instead of only talking ABOUT his wife". They whole play was rather endearing and did well to make you sympathize with the characters. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Terribilitá

terribilitá - an untranslatable word meaning something like "awesome mightiness"

This was a favorite part of my weekly readings for my classes. Awesome mightiness. I wish we had a word for that. Art critics called Michelangelo's Sculptures terribilitá, as he matured into the sculptor who freed his pieces from their dungeons of Carrara marble. I supposed if he lived today, his art would be described by words like "bomb", or "cool", or "groovy", or perhaps, yes, even "awesomely mighty". But in seriousness, I cannot think of any word or groups of words that could describe such works so well:
I do, most certainly, take such works of art for granted. He must have really cared about this piece to sculpt it so meticulously and careful. It suppose it goes back to the discussion of looking at a chair and not simply seeing a chair, but seeing form and color, and components. When he looked at stone or marble, I assume he rarely saw mere marble. He saw whatever raptured him. He saw what COULD be. In a slab of marble, he saw Mary gently steadying the crucified LORD on her lap, in a moment of despair. He captures a moment of history in his imagination, and puts it into the imaginations of all who witness it.

It really reminds me of a scene in Saturday's Warrior. (How about this for an allusion). Remember when the young sketch artist, the one who sings "Circle of Love" with that girl in the Pre-Earth life, meets Jimmy in the park and sketches him from afar? He tells him that he doesn't draw people the way they ARE, but rather, the way they could BE. He then jumps into 5 minutes of "Where's my cause that I would Die for?" and later begins taking the discussions, ultimately leading to his once again singing "Circle of Love" with that one girl (what is her name?). That is the artist's insanity; to never be limited to reality, but to always be trapped in imagination. 

On to a quote in the reading that angered me, somewhat. American Painter, Ben Shahn, said: 
"I have always believed that the character of a society is largely shaped and unified by its great creative works, that a society is molded upon its epics, and that it imagines in terms of its created things - its cathedrals, its works of art, its musical treasures, its literary and philosophical works." 

I love Henry David Thoreau, who once said something to this effect, "Every inspiration need not be scratched into existence through a poem for it to be worthwhile, but the impression it leaves upon my mind will linger forever in my soul."

For those of us who cannot and will not contribute to the greater part of american/world society because we will never create a great creative work, I choose not to believe that my society's (personal) character is shaped by what kind of building I study in, what kind of church I worship in, and what kind of paintings litter the covers of my text books. It rests in the individual. Art isn't an expression of society anymore, but it represent the thoughts and feelings of single individuals. We contribute daily with our lives. 

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Ballet, You Say?

Ryan Williams is a ballet-guy. Whoda thought? 

I sheepishly invited a few people to join me in the days leading up to Murray-City's Ballet Under the Stars performance in its public amphitheater. I don't know whether I was ashamed to be going to the ballet, or whether I just wanted to enjoy the Entrechats to myself. Regardless, I was joyously overwhelmed by all the Pirouettes, Port de Bras, Jeté, and even a couple Cabriole by the more experiences dancers. I got to the amphitheater about 5 or 10 minutes after the show had already started. I chose the very top seat on the very last bleacher. The stadium was surprisingly full. I think that helped, because it taught me the way of the "ballet clap". I didn't comprehend completely how it happened, but periodically throughout the performance the audience would, in complete unison, begin a very loud applause. I was baffled. There was no "Applause" sign above and there weren't always obvious pauses in music and dancing where I would have found applause appropriate. How did they clap in sync every time at the right time?


The first piece included a woman dressed like a ballerina and a man dressed like a soldier danseur noble (male ballerina). It was quite provocative and repetitious (and long) and I did not add my ovation to the public's consent. 

My most favorite piece of the night, the one that opened my mind to the art of Ballet, was entitled Nocturnes. The Music was by Chopin and Michelle Armstrong did the choreography. It began by 8 Dancers taking their places on the stage. There were 4 male dancers dressed in different colors. 2 of the male dancers were accompanied by a female ballerina of the matching color and the other 2 male dancers were accompanied by 2 ballerinas of their matching colors. The colors were: Green, Purple, Orange, and Blue . The company began by dancing with their respective partners, but then alternated among everyone. Blues dancing with Greens, and Oranges with Purples. I was captured when each color got the stage to themselves and expressed some appropriate meaning of its color appendage. The orange dancers were very balanced. It consisted of one male dancer dividing his time evenly between two ballerinas. There was no sense of jealousy among the dancers, but perfect balance and harmony. The green dancers were so beautifully choreographed and I just felt so youthful while watching them. They performed some very "cool-looking" choreography and it just felt very hopeful. The blue dancers were very proper and reserved. Hardly did they separate from each other on stage. 

The purples dancers were the best part. Their dance was performed by (in my opinion) the two best dancers in the company. The purple ballerina started off dancing by her self, when the blue danseur noble came up behind her and startled her. They then awkwardly danced closely for a few minutes until their choreography matched up completely and they were beautifully in sync.  There was more "leap and catch" in this sequence than in any other. Approaching the end of the dance, the dancers began separating out and performing the same moves, except on different ends of the stage. What harmonious independence! The dance ended after they slowly approached one another again and ended in a nicely choreographed hug. I thought it represented falling in love, but that's just me. It was pretty moving

You know the oddest part? About 3/4 through the purple dance, for no apparent reason, and not called on by a break in action, I began to applaud...and it was completely in sync with the rest of the audience. I laughed to myself.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Room For Discussion

I am in the process right now of converting a video file, from a film called Koyaanisqatsi. It is a Godfrey Reggion film. The film consists entire of images and musical score. I guess the meaning of the word connotes a need for a change in lifestyle.  The movie is shot in slow motion and time-lapse styles. It is actually kind of intoxicating to watch. I can only take it 2 minutes at a time. He wants to display human beings in a way that makes them seem somewhat distant. Does that make sense? It is a way at looking at ourselves, and seeing something alien. We watched part of it in class (in connection with an Architecture Discussion, trust me it fit somehow). 

I've walked around BYU campus and driven along University Avenue and seen scenes in time-lapse. It is weird how you can change your little view of the world, for a limited time, and make it maybe closer to someone else's reality, or imagination.

video

I liked the film and the discussion about architecture. It was actually interesting to find out where today's architectural style comes from. I read the book, From Bauhaus to Our House (Wolfe) which gave a brief history of the past century of architecture. To know that "cookie cutter" housing and "steel box" buildings with glass were 'in', really intrigues me. Nowadays, it seems like people want to be strictly original (I call this trendy, it's repugnant) and do not want straight lines on straight foundations. I guess 'elaborately simple' could be our post-modern style. But architectures were once "scolded" or at least shunned, to a degree, for exhibiting any sort of originality outside of a steel box building with window. Things change.

Tomorrow, if you are interested, you can tune in for my reactions from "Ballet Under the Stars". It should be quite gripping.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Form or Context?

So, this past week found me reading in my Humanities book quite frequently (amidst panic readings of my American Heritage book for a midterm), and I came upon some subject matter that I found interesting. 

Formalism vs. Contextualism.

If you click on the word Formalism above, you will actually be privileged to watch a boring lady talk about a boring topic. Do it, it's boring. Anyway, I love reading/learning about things that I already do in my life, but in the scholastic world, have been very defined and regulated with terms and quantification. If you look at a painting, or sculpture, or artwork and wonder what a particular painting is expressing with all its colors and swirls and textures...then you have criticized art through formalist eyes. If, in turn, you realized that perhaps meaning in a given artwork might lie "outside of the frame", and question the artist's background, his religion, his style, and his philosophies and disposition on life...then you are, in reality, criticizing art through contextualism. Obviously, it would be hard to correctly understand art by simply taking one side and criticizing. The moments in our lives where we exhibit greatest understanding are those in which we take a unified approach.

We probably should not look at any given situation with the eyes of strict formalism or varying contextualism. Can we look at a person and, without any context of their life, come to a correct conclusion about the art of this person's existence? No. Can we read a book about the context of a person's life, without seeing them express their lines of movement and hues of humor, and expect to understand them? Not really. So, I guess I should apply that also to a painting the next time I see one.


Look familiar? In similar news, I had my first midterm today. I scored solidly between the confidence of an A and the mediocrity of a C. I had a talk with a relative yesterday indirectly about career choice and study plans. I feel like I have reached a very comforting place, where grades are not the focus of my education..but rather, knowledge. Do I care that if that test had ACTUALLY intended to test comprehension, that I would have gotten an A? Perhaps not. Am I bugged that I scored lower than desired because the test ACTUALLY wanted to confuse and badger? No sir, because now I truly am well versed in the Heritage of America. I don't care about the form OR the context of the test...they both sucked.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

In The Land of Provo

I was on my blog page recently and noticed that my popularity had rocketed up, as I now had 18 followers for my blog. I was feeling pretty good about my social standing in life, and was experiencing an increase of self-esteem points, when I realized that my following was almost purely obligatory. 15 of my followers are my peers who are REQUIRED to follow my blog for class participation points and the other 3 or so, I'm sure feel obligated to read once a week because we are related. But let's be honest, I'm sure Britney Spears (in her prime) didn't say, "All of my followers and concert attendees are only there because I dance around in scanty attire". So I won't say it either.

More important this week were other matters. I've had a few cultural experiences this past week that have been enriched by a mind full of the arts. Monday and Wednesday were film screenings. Thursday evening was a Blues Jam Festival in Spanish Fork. Saturday morning was watching Hot Air Balloons take off and land on Bulldog Fields. I think one my more culturally uplifting moments, though, was a walk to my car. I had spent Friday morning with friends and siblings at the Provo 4th of July Festival. With the smell of cotton candy, and Comcast salesmen in the air, it was teeming with everything that a festival should. I ate with my small, semi-related party and once food was gone, it was decided that a 'parting of the ways' was necessary. I walked with them to their car and then began the 15 block walk toward mine.

I miss walking. In Germany, I spent every day walking. There is something freeing about a good walk. As I walked, I decided it might be a good time to put my new acquired knowledge of architecture to use. Provo has some interesting architectural feats. I wish I had taken pictures for proof, but I found every kind of column (at least, every kind that I now know) on my 15 block march.



They are ionic, doric, and corinthian columns (respectively). The main differences lay in the 'capitals' or the top parts of the columns. I saw multiple houses sporting columns. I had no idea that Provo had such proclivity to Greek and Roman architecture. I admired amid nods and greetings from those who were setting up/camping out for the apparently beloved Provo Parade. I guess that is somewhat of a symbol for American culture. We say, "Do not limit me to Doric style, neither Ionic, nor Corinthian." We say rather, "I'll take one in Doric, one in Ionic, and one in Corinthian. And the 4th one I just want in blue."

On a side note, I was invited this week to read the Declaration of Independence and decide whether I believe it or not. Sometimes we take things, not necessary for granted, but just for 'given'. We think to ourselves, "Well, America has been around awhile and it seems to work ok, so it must be the best." I love the language of the Declaration: 

"But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security." (Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, p.1)

Government for the people, by the people. I am truly grateful for a body of men who loved liberty and truth enough, to lay aside the garment of comfort and dutifully defend the causes of the Creator. I do believe in the words of the Declaration. I believe also that we should have whatever types of columns we wish. I was listening to the words of Dr. Martin Luther King the other day and will wish you a Happy 4th of July, concluding with his words:

"Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."

Thursday, July 2, 2009

B-E-A-U-T, but whY?

I've noticed how a few of my classmates have written about the argument of "beauty" and found it interesting, so I wanted to follow suit. There is the moral question of beauty, and the purely aesthetic question of beauty. And then there's this question , "What is beauty?" If you read about 6 or 7 posts ago, you would know that a favorite activity of mine is defining words. I've often wondered if there wasn't some dictionary writer somewhere, sometime, who, while compiling words, accidentally forgot a few or let a page of words drop from his desk into extinction. What would that mean for us? What if there were emotions for words that have disappeared from our society's vernacular? Could there be words for emotions that we simply do not know? Does that mean the emotions themselves would cease to be, because we would cease to define them? My brother calls these, "Five Dollar Words". The words we use, but that we really might not understand. I think beauty can be a 5 dollar word for us. There could be emotions that really aren't expressed correctly with the word beauty, but that is the only word that comes close. Language is fascinating, isn't it?

The moral question of beauty. Does something cease to be beautiful to us, when we learn that the peculiarities of that thing are evil? The example in the reading was the Author's experience with the "purple loose strife", a flower that rapidly destroys the ecosystem necessary to water purification, which sustains a wide range of plant and animal life. His ecologist friend forcefully stated that the flower was ugly to her, the very sight of which nearly sent her into gagging. The Author states that he could not deny the beauty of the flower, as he sat in the cool wetlands, and admired the, "tall, purple flower that brightens the marshy shore". Do we cease to gasp before the grandeur of a european Cathedral because we know each stone was laid by the hands of laboring slaves? Is a picture of Christ beautiful to us because we know the importance and sacrifice of His earthly ministry? Is beauty a moral question; a sympathy to an order of (depicted) ideals? 

The aesthetic question of beauty. Beauty is, I would say, obviously not in the object itself. Just as the words: smooth, tall, delicious, and difficult, are dependent upon the forces of perception..beauty requires the critic. No falling tree in any forest will be heard if no one is present, likewise, no painting will ever be beautiful if no one is there to see it. But with that comes also the question: is beauty just a physical/mental/emotional response to something? A feeling of aesthetic pleasure? Is beauty just the right mix of colors and texture? When you meet a pretty girl(or guy, i guess.), is your first impression of beauty a lasting one--or does it fluctuate once you know her character?

So, maybe after three paragraphs this 'beauty' question isn't interesting to you anymore, but nothing has been solved yet. I think I've come to the conclusion, for myself, that beauty lies in contrast. My feeling is that pain and unpleasantness are the antagonists of beauty. Mind you, I do believe that there is beauty to be found in the pains of life.  Those who have experienced pain or unpleasantness in deep degrees, have such a higher capacity to appreciate beauty...moreover, to find beauty in sometimes the more unlikely places. Beauty is rarely one dimensional. This painting is not beautiful to me because the colors and swirls are simple aesthetically pleasing (which they are), but because of the thoughts I have, knowing that Van Gogh found God shortly before painting it, and the protection that brings in an otherwise harrowing world.
By the way, has anyone seen that Boy Meets World episode? It's a beautiful one.