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:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Credo quidquid dixit Dei Filius

At Mass tonight, there was an odd translation of the following lines from Adoro Te Devote:

Visus, tactus, gustus in te fallitur,
Sed auditu solo tuto creditur.
Credo quidquid dixit Dei Filius;
Nil hoc verbo veritátis verius.

Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God’s Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there’s nothing true.

It's not an accurate translation, perhaps, but it does express the profound - if there is no truth in what Christ says and offers (Himself), then there is nothing true nor can the possibility of truth even exist. Or, to put it less strongly but equally persuasively, there is little worth believing. 

Such is an attraction of Catholicism for me: it is worth believing. But I want to believe. I do not want to believe that man is fundamentally opposed to his brother and the world, solitary, and angry. I do not want to believe that we cannot know the truth of things. I do not want to believe that, ultimately, whether we kick or kiss someone amounts to much the same thing.

It is only through Christ that the world acquires meaning and redemption.

Also, this is pretty much my approach to cooking:

Monday, May 28, 2012


I often feel like the bug. BUT SOMETIMES I AM JAKE THE DOG! 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pour fourth Thy Spirit and they shall be created - and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

It is difficult to trust in God. The final end, the finish line, the promised land seems so ungraspable; the world so full of pain and yearning, uncertainties, disappointments. God, infinitely knowable in Himself, is nonetheless, in His essence, mysterious and our senses and intellect cannot penetrate the Godhead. Even when He reaches to touch us through the sacrifice of the Son, we cannot satisfy ourselves as we do with empirical evidence, or with anything like a empirically derived science. We can never say "Lo! Look! Behold! How can you not see? How can you not know? It is evident!"

Aquinas describes us as being like owls in the light of the sun - we do not see because of our mode of understanding is so limited. Yet, it IS there, and the eagle (our glorified selves?) sees.

Yet, by the influx of the Holy Spirit, pouring the graces of faith, hope, and love into our soul, elevating, alerting, and awakening us to deeper realities, we can affirm that God is: we are not abandoned. God dwells in us intimately, sustains, encourages, and gives reason to all that we encounter, suffer, or find true, good, and beautiful.

Looked at from a naturally human perspective, the world is without sense, inchoate, and full of pain. The most we can hope for is a life of sensory satisfaction.

Looked at from the perspective of the Divine, in Whose mind all things pre-exist and Who yearns for us as we for Him, everything is terribly, frighteningly, comfortingly significant. The world no longer assumes a nightmareish aspect - it is tinted with purpose, filled with love, and permeated by the Spirit of God, inviting us to dwell in Him as He desires to dwell in us.

God invites, and sends us a Comforter. We are not alone.