Saturday, June 02, 2012

Aesthetics, AMV


When I get overwhelmed, I tend to watch anime music videos. This leads to just one thing: sketches. Q.E.D.

Anime music videos are like my kryptonite: on the surface, I am strong, muscular, and wear red boots. But put me in front of a green lump of matter from another planet and... Actually, I'm not really sure this can go anywhere.

I enjoy a proper sense of timing and drama. There is something very satisfying, both in dancing, singing, and the matching of movement to music via a visual medium, that is infinitely good. When you hit the right note, when you get the emphasis just so there is not-quite-a-smug-knowledge of the actuality that something - something - is exactly as it is supposed to be. True, it is a fleeting feeling, but it is a note of harmony struck in the universe. Sometimes, such notes can seem quite subjective. We do not always see the beauty and the horror, the power and the glory. In our limited capacities, influenced by moods, passions, and what we had for dinner the evening prior, we are more or less receptive to beauty, to pathos. And, yes, being susceptible or receptive to things means that you also risk making yourself ridiculous because you do not simply take what is presented by the exterior, to the non-judging and rude eye, but gather in the intentions of the people surrounding it whatever "it" is, mood, etc.: we can legitimately be attracted to something ridiculous and draw nourishment from it, provided that the work is purified (so to speak) by the intentions and orientation of the will of the creator. Come to think of it, many of the saints were simply ridiculous. I mean, riding across a lake on a sturgeon!?

Point is: sometimes we are moved by music, by a combination of music and images, by sights and sounds, by what is beautiful - but that not everyone can see what we see in something and that's ok to a certain extent (qualifier alert! Only to a certain extent. We may simply be stupid and not see that something is unfitting/unworthy/ugly.). I do not believe that beauty will save the world - but I do believe that God will save the world and uses the transcendental of beauty to attract people to Himself. The Greeks, in fact, tied the notion of beauty (to kalon) to the notion of correct moral act: and an act that is in accord with reason, that truly leads us to our final end, is a beautiful act because it is clothed in grace, in the charity of God, and is perfectly ordered, balanced, right. Acts that unite us to God are like this "ooooooh yeah....harmony" feeling  - though we are not always conscious of them.

Turning to aesthetic beauty, what we think is beautiful sometimes turns out to not be so beautiful. Our tastes mature. The image of Christ beaten and crucified is dearer and more beautiful than the aggregation of the works of the masters and replaces our earlier understandings of Christ as fair-haired and soulful looking and - ultimately - superficial figure. Which is not necessarily to denigrate the utility of the lower - it *can* (operational word being *can*) lead to the higher and God uses paths and ways that we cannot even begin to imagine in order to draw all things to Himself. The aesthetic order, in other words, can lead us to ontological realities, according to our mode of reception, the intentions of the creator of some work, and so on. But a caveat: I think that the intention of the creator finds its way into the work. So if the intention or the will of the creator is bad then it leaves some taint on their creation.


And it is still possible to say that things are more revelatory of being than others. In fact, we must say that some things are better than others, and that some things simply reveal more of God than others and that we must become accustomed to knowing, wanting, and choosing what participates more in goodness and beauty than their lesser counterparts. Why have a hot dog when you could have... a hot dog with...ketchup? 

This preamble is all to justify the fact that...I watch amvs:

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