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Old 16th August 2011   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 517
Default Re: The Lessons of Civilisation

Originally Posted by HSG
Although, in this particular clip, Clark voices the Catholic position, the Judgment of Paris venerates both traditions. Each served Western culture very well, with Protestantism suiting the austere character of Northern Europe as much as Catholicism befitted the voluptuous character of the South.

And of course, Protestantism also created works of sumptuous magnificence, such as the Frauenkirche in Dresden (which has been mentioned here many times), or the mighty Berliner Dom, which was conceived as a kind of Protestant answer to St. Peter's. Protestantism was still part of the glory of the West. It wasn't until the 20th century and the blight of modernism that European culture was assaulted by an alien repudiation of the beauty tradition.

At any rate, the Civilisation video in the above post (which really is worth watching) and the ensuing commentary reminded me of an article on beauty that I read a while back. I didn't post it here at the time, because it has a religious aspect. But I think it's worth considering from a purely aesthetic perspective, irrespective of its religious component, just like the Counter-Reformation itself.

The title sets out the theme, which is to associate beauty with generous indulgence in food, and to associate the deprivation of beauty (i.e. modern minimalism) with the deprivation of food (i.e., diet-starvation).

Spiritual Sustenance: Feed Us with Your Beauty

Beauty makes the soul soar and is as essential to the spirit as food and water is to the body, yet it is mocked as sentimentality and foolishness. It is wiped out of churches and untaught in school curricula, because who is permitted to define what is beautiful, anymore?

Even art schools brush aside notions of beauty; they favor a modern art that can be empty or profane, but rarely bourgeois "beautiful."

On any given day I am too-little exposed to beauty. I sit in traffic each morning staring at grey asphalt; I ride through treeless streets lined with utilitarian, ugly, ornament-free buildings and spend the remainder of my day in a cube. I imagine this is typical for most people: we go through the day surrounded by the mundane, and not realizing we miss beauty...

People often justify their ugly little parishes by saying they don't believe in wasting money for garnishments that insult the poor. Little do they realize that their bleak and barren churches are spiritually depriving the poor by starving their very hearts and souls; hard lives ache for beauty. I often wonder why people think the poor need (or deserve) only the basic-and-bare minimums. A dreary life needs more, not less, uplifting beauty...

This reminds me of an exchange I had with two small children I met in a library. Seeing the beautiful pictures on my computer monitor, they sat with me as I updated my blog and showed them pictures of church altars. They were wide-eyed with interest; they hungered for beauty like a baby hungers for milk.

The analogy works well. It points to the overall "aesthetics of guilt" that this site has talked about time and again. The modern insistence on exclusively depicting women in the media who look undernourished, and who have minimal beauty, is part of the same impulse that results in all modern buildings looking bare, bleak, flat and angular -- just like today's fashion models. Minimalism in female aesthetics is an aspect of minimalism's cultural dominance in general.

But who wants to live in this kind of dreary, deprived, dessicated world? Just as women's bodies crave food to blossom into the full, voluptuous proportions nature meant them to possess, so do we all desire beauty to feel imaginatively fulfilled.

It is time for the restoration of an opulent aesthetic in femininity, in fashion, and in the world that we create all around us.
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