Aesthetic Knowledge

mountains-in-the-dusk

With modern egalitarianism, the  existence of the rich is regarded as an offense to the poor, the smart to the dumb, and the good looking to the plain. Pure resentment drives this phenomenon – resentment being a combination of admiration, envy and hatred. Wanting to be rich, handsome and smart, and failing to be, these things are then hated.

Many high schools are now apparently doing away with prize-giving ceremonies and the notion of a valedictorian to spare the feelings of other students.

Moral subjectivism, or relativism, reduces morality to feelings and personal opinion. This renders moral knowledge and disputes meaningless. Aesthetic subjectivism likewise insists that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and nothing more. I encountered raised voices and outrage in a class when I recently suggested otherwise. The reaction was stronger than anything I had experienced before and seemed out of proportion to the claim. Far more contentious-seeming moral issues had not inspired any such protests. My essay Aesthetic Knowledge published at the Sydney Traditionalist Forum is my argument for aesthetic objectivism.

9 thoughts on “Aesthetic Knowledge

  1. Pingback: Aesthetic Knowledge | @the_arv

  2. That you encountered raised voices and outrage *in a class* (presumably consisting of 18-22 year-old know nothings) is itself both instructive and demoralizing.

    Beauty, I take it, *is* in the eye of the beholder. It is just that the beholder sees it (as well as ugliness) where it exists and generally finds himself seeing what most everyone else is seeing. When (s)he rejects what his/her own two eyes are telling him/her, (s)he is just at war with himself/herself. Everyone knows “big” in the female form *isn’t* beautiful. Lying to myself about it is, well, just lying to myself about it.

  3. Pingback: Aesthetic Knowledge | Reaction Times

  4. Almost everything that my students “value” is vulgar, commercial, crass, manipulative, hence ugly. The speaker-schedule of my state college is one ugly, conformist presentation after another. Under a totalitarian agenda masquerading as “education,” American adolescents have been induced to idolize the ugly. No one has granted them any knowledge of the beautiful.

    Richard: Concerning the capital image of your article at Sydney Trads, is it Aeoteoroa?

  5. Your article has provoked me to no little thought. I report something that occurred to me yesterday while I sat, between my classes, in one of the grim corridors where students pass en masse, on their ways here and there about campus. Almost every student, male and female alike, burdens himself with an enormous back-pack, the weight of which is literally and sometimes radically deformative of the body. The weight itself, impressing first of all the lower back, twists the spine in such a way that it would cause anyone observing it in a newborn to request corrective surgery at once. The weight being a counterweight, the self-burdening student must hunch his or her shoulders and lean forward in an ungainly stance so as not to be dragged down backwards by gravity. The manner of walking is therefore itself deformed becoming awkward and unpleasant, even scandalous, to behold. Where the student is corpulent (obesity is epidemic among college students) the grotesqueness only amplifies itself. Even pretty coeds, however, take on this seemingly mandatory penalty, sacrificing a significant portion of their natural feminine charm so as to appear like a stevedore at work. (Some of them also curse like stevedores.)

    Other types of self-uglification have been noticeable on college campuses, and among college-age people, for decades now, beginning with the 1980s “Punk” ensemble of savage, chopped up, but brightly-colored hair-cuts, face- and body-rings, tattoos, and other types of deliberate scarification, but that fashion-tide has ebbed somewhat over the years. Replacing it is the subscendent “slob”-style of dressing — in sweatpants or pajamas, with only slippers or go-aheads on the feet, and with formless sweatshirts or hoodies that hide the person, burka-like. And to that, now, the millstone of penance, in bright flowery patterns, has added itself.*

    The spine-deforming, posture-obliterating, grace-annihilating backpack strikes me as a new degree of personal ugliness. What, I wonder, do these backpacks contain? A whole ham? Barbells? A section of newly cut pine-trunk still full of its sap? Their purpose seems to me mainly to be — to torture the body into an unpleasant shape and thereby to defy and repudiate beauty.

    *The bright flowery patterns are worn indifferently by the females and the males, which adds a de-sexing element to the general deformity.

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