Just a quick update about last nights event at Space 157 in downtown Rock Hill, SC. Friday Arts Project invited their friends and acquaintances to their studio space for a lecture and discussion on the topic of “Beauty” (with a capital “B”). I (Kirk) lectured for a time and then we had an open discussion. My three points on Beauty were: What is Beauty? Where does Beauty come from? And why is Beauty important? About 40-50 people showed up and our time of interaction was quite vigorous – there was genuine inquiry with responses from one another’s thoughts on the topic of Beauty. I hope discussion continues among the attendees.
Our previous post, “The Place of Beauty”, is the first of a series I am doing that is the source of a lot of my lecture last night. I would love to hear responses.
Thanks to Friday Arts Project and all the peeps at Rock Hill…thanks for the opportunity. Shout out to IAM for highlighting us on their FaceBook page and Blog.
The lecture and discussion were recorded, and when we have them ready we will post them. We are so grateful for your interest in BirdandKey.
Kirk and Sarah
I greatly enjoyed the lecture, Kirk. Thanks for thinking through these things so deeply and sharing what you've learned.
I realized afterwards what I was getting at with my question about changing styles and their relation to beauty. I'm pondering what determines what is "in style". It seems to be something other than beauty as you defined it, and so my next question is how is it related to beauty, and how is it different? Is it society's seeking after beauty, and if so, what causes us collectively to miss so badly so often, so that stylish things become shameful with the passing of time?
Thanks again for the talk; it's given me much to think about.
Andrew, you question was an interesting one that I will continue to think about, but here are a few thoughts. If we are talking about clothing, interior decor, cuisine, etc…on a practical level "style" seems to be determined by whatever is deemed "hip" or "cool" by a group (not sure whether large or small) of people deemed capable of making those decisions. This is done whether the general public would agree with it or not. This isn't necessarily a bad thing.
My sense is "they" – the gatekeepers of style – make their decisions based upon an amount of personal whimsy combined with a collection of data from the general public. But of course I am only speculating here, not knowing the specifics of how fashion designers get they sense of what would be good style, etc.
But could we not agree that their pursuit of style is a bit of a pursuit of Beauty – whatever their definition of Beauty may be?
Their structure of how they conclude what is beautiful or not probably doesn't fall into a strict interpretation of the three characteristics I gave of Aquinas' definition of Beauty, BUT perhaps there are degrees of Beauty? A piece of art or "style" may not be as proportionate or radiant as another piece but it may have some of the beauty Aquinas was talking about.
At the very least I would say the search for style is a search for the Beautiful, and the Good…and therefore the True.
As for what causes us to miss…as a Orthodox Judeo-Christian thinker I have to say our brokenness. If it is true that at the Fall of Adam and Eve we disrupted our true relationship with God then we lost the measure by which we look at the world accurately. It is also stated that we lost our ability to stay truly connected to fellow human beings and even ourselves. In other words we can miss reading others and even ourselves properly. But brokenness assumes there was a state of non-brokenness to begin with.
As for your last question about stylish things become shameful with time, I have to refer to TS Eliot as I did in the talk. He said the good poets are the ones who have followers over generations. Can we not say that also about style? I've noticed that my wife has a much better sense of style than I do. I have also noticed that the things she picks to wear have stayed more relevant to current styles over longer periods of time. Does good/true/beautiful style still maintain itself even if none sees it? My answer to that question leans toward, "yes".
More to ponder thought, Andrew…thanks.
Thanks for your answer, Kirk. The only example I mentioned during the discussion was clothing, but the main thing on my mind is music, which goes through similar stylistic changes. I guess it's most noticeable at the level of pop music, but over longer periods of time with more refined genres. I'm more familiar with music than visual art, but I suppose the same is true there too, to an extent. I definitely track with what Eliot said, and with how our brokenness limits our perception of beauty. It intrigues me though that what often captures the attention in any one generation is what is hip and cool, and not necessarily what possesses enduring beauty.
One other question: what is the Greek word you mentioned that suggests beauty is the right thing at the right time? I studied Greek in college but couldn't remember hearing that idea. Thanks again.