We’ve been reading Kant’s Analytic of the Beautiful in my Beastly Beauty Philosophy Class. Not gonna lie, it’s tricky stuff and I’m glad I got this far in life before attempting it, because I have the fortitude of undaunted age to hang it on. The best part of getting through Kant is that he delivers: there’s a big fat nougatty nugget of truth as a reward for swimming in that 18th century wordalicious deep end and here it is:
Beauty is SUBJECTIVE!!!!!
The hell you say, because you, in your Kant-free state, already knew it: Eye of the Beholder and all that. And, sometimes bad is bad too. But how do you tell? And why should you care to? Can you change your mind? What if it’s just as vital to say what’s NOT beautiful? Is that a truer root of taste and discernment? Does any other opinion besides your own really count? Let’s discuss with a visual.
Knowing me as you all do now, you might think I made up Stuckism, especially when I’m bemoaning creative blocks. I did not. It’s legit, though. See that turquoise circle down there on the lower right, sticking out beyond all those played-out Post-modernisms? It’s in the vanguard, but taking aim over its shoulder at Art’s 20th Century Pompous Bad Guys: “Against conceptualism, hedonism and the cult of the ego-artist,” proclaims the subhead on their Twenty Point Manifesto from 1999. I like Stuckism, it’s cheeky and makes more than a few savory points I can relate to. It may also have saved my artistic soul. So let’s cherry pick and see how the thoughts of some grumpy British painters apply to a philosophical American ceramicista.
So, I enrolled in a Philosophy class. With a taunting title like “Beastly Beauty: The Value That Astounds, Confounds, Perplexes and Vexes Us” how could I not? It’s basically an Aesthetics course taught by a scary smart über-organized professor. (Uh Oh…she means it and students must too.) And a lyrical comedienne. (Whew, we can relax and be real.)