Thursday, April 5, 2007

Self In Seeing

This is a continuation of an ongoing discussion of art that began here and continued here and then here.

I have a very refined sense of what I like, aesthetically, and what I don't. I have an opinion about all music. I can usually create a framework of an opinion about any visual art I see. I love critiquing creative works, and understanding what it is that tickles me about them, and what makes me scoff.

I don't believe that the consequence of everything I have said about art is "we need to throw away our judgements, and accept all expression as having equal value, and like every piece of art we are witness to." I have expressed that it's a mistake to place an ultimate qualitative judgement on a work of art. So what kind of judgement criteria do we use? Because we earthlings judge our surrounding simply by being there, much like God does. We bring a certain lens of experience, a tint of our socially constructed selves(for better or worse) to everything we witness. The key to beholding is to recognize this filter as a gift.

The real question, maybe, is "who are you?" This may even be more important than the question of what is before you. If I bring so much to the table by simply observing, there must be a great deal that I'm capable of building onto what the artist has begun.

The self exists without surroundings, but it may as well not. Without surroundings, without community, the self goes unexpressed. I book of matches next to a pile of hay is not a fire. And it certainly will never become one if everyone who walks by says "I see no matches" for fear of having to decide what to do with it.

Which is really how most people live. Afraid of striking a match and kindling something dangerous, but equally afraid of deciding against it, because then the cold is there fault.

Who are you? The felt value of the created depends on how that question is answered by your engagement with things. By all means, despise Shakespeare at college, and enjoy Britney Spears in the jazz underground. Believe that Raphael was less spiritual than Rembrandt.

But like so much, the value in this process depends wholly on whether or not we want to be real with ourselves.

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