Monday, September 15, 2008

Late-Night "-isms"

HAVING HAD software problems yesterday, wasting about six hours, and a project deadline to meet today, I made the fateful decision to drink some coffee and finish my work, no matter how late (or early).

While waiting for a compute-intensive computer program to complete, I was considering the fact that most — or nearly all — traditional art and architectural styles, of every nation, continent, religion, and historical era are attractive and generally appealing.  So much of the world is photogenic!

Widespread ugliness is a product of our modern age, partially due to the desire for efficiency (which while a virtue, is pretty low on the scale of virtues), and largely due to bad philosophy, which has trickled down through society from the academy to everyday life.

The ugliness of Modernism is well-known, especially in architecture and the fine arts: however, some contemporary industrial design is of extraordinary quality and beauty, which perhaps I'll consider some other day.

There is a formal philosophy called "Traditionalism" which basically states that the old ways are the best ways.  This, however, is a heresy, and is ultimately based on cultural relativism and social Darwinism, as well as denying various virtues (such as Art and Science, in the Thomistic sense).  This ought to be contrasted with the better-known heresy of Modernism (and its contemporary variants) which states that new ways are the best ways, which is also based on relativism, social Darwinism and also denies virtues.

Alternatively, there can be a Catholic theology of art.  All that is true, good, and beautiful, ultimately derives these transcendental attributes from God.  Insofar as a culture — any culture — conforms to what is true and good, then beauty ought to follow.  Where truth and goodness are denied, ugliness most certainly follows.

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