Wednesday, April 7, 2010

BEAUTY WILL SAVE THE WORLD The amazing timing of a seminal BBC program “Why Beauty Matters” featuring Roger Scruton

Volume I. Issue #2

“Beauty will save the world” - this famous as it is mysterious Prince Myshkin quote from Fiodor Dostoevsky’s human-psyche-deep-diving record holding “The Idiot” stayed with me my entire life as the single greatest idealistic metaphor of all times. The more we travel a remarkable journey of a mind-bogglingly changing world, the more I start taking it at face value. Yes, BEAUTY quite literally is a force capable of altering the disastrous and self-destructive course of a militant consumer civilization on the loose. Whether it “will” or will not largely depends on our actions as servants of this cause – BEAUTY.

I say, yes, it will!!!!!

The recent phenomenal BBC program “Why Beauty Matters” featuring reasoning and contemplation on this subject by philosopher and writer Roger Scruton, raised some fascinating questions in a most impassionate and soul-searching way that generated a swell of response evidently touching on something centrally important to our collective state of being called culture.

Roger Scruton sees BEAUTY as “ a value as important as truth and goodness” and that “losing BEAUTY is like losing the meaning of life”.

Most of Scruton’s argument is obviously not new and this is not the point; after all, as he puts it: “BEAUTY has been central to our civilization for over 2000 years”.

There is not much new about the argument against BEAUTY either.

The truly amazing thing that the program conveys brilliantly, I think and the response to it proves how all those very old arguments are perceived in this split second in the arch of our historical existence. It is truly amazing how fresh in the moment and vital the Scruton argument so brilliantly presented by the BBC team really feels.

It’s just as amazing how out of touch and trite and quite downright pathetic at times all well-known arguments against BEAUTY suddenly sound. May be it is because this is the sealed fate of any attempt to preserve the status quo now collapsing in front of our eyes….

This is the most fascinating aspect of this stunning BBC program’s phenomenon.

In my view, we owe this newfound freshness of BEAUTY as a central philosophical precept precisely as contrast to a fully explored anti – BEAUTY argument presented by the modernist experience throughout the last century.

We are indebted to modernists. Because of the experience of willfully rejecting it, we now go with Beauty not as a matter of habit, but as a matter of clear choice.

Make no mistake about it though: the return of BEAUTY is a revolution in our collective priorities for society first put forth through ART.

Deconstructivism is Dead.
Shock is Dead.
Total-Relativism-as-Norm is Dead.
BEAUTY is alive.

When “the eye of the beholder” cannot take anymore the pain of numbing ugliness thrown at us, desensitizing all our senses that ever make us alive and mark our belonging to our own species – then the realization comes – oh, yeah, I guess BEAUTY does lie within “the qualities of the beheld.”

It is simply our choice of what to see in this “beheld”. We can choose to see ugliness in the most beautiful and we can choose to see BEAUTY in something otherwise perceived ugly. Yet this personal choice is going to be solidly based within various sets of undeniable “qualities of the beheld”.

BEAUTY is a choice of life over death that leads to life. It is a part of a self-regenerating life force.

Down with all-consuming relativism run amok– it is too easy of a harbor for mediocrity.

We are sick and tired of the continuous miserable whining of a choice to see the ugly as a customary “bon tone” of the establishment’s “official art.” We are sick and tired of their oh, so deep “tongue-in-cheek” game that is not much more than a cover for ultra-commercialist kitch. Both are just plain ugly. It is ugly because ugly is easy.

BEAUTY is not. The “easy beauty” is anything but BEAUTY.

BEAUTY is always merit based and this is why it is so feared and detested, at times persecuted, by mediocrity – it holds a mirror to their inabilities.

“Ugly” is anti-merit and consists largely of a lack of merit to the point that the degree of lacking quickly becomes a merit of its own.

That leads to the emergence of two opposite merit systems which we call aesthetics. In a new democratized world, no independently existing system shall be judged by the rules of another, particularly by the “official” institutional establishment.

We are deeply indebted to modernism for our newfound thirst for BEAUTY.

We developed two systems of looking at our single shared world from two opposite perspectives and any personal preference aside, no picture of this world will ever be complete any more without “the other view”. This is the central message of NOVOREALISM. This is what we call a newly multi-polar aesthetically world.

We are heralding a new vibrant, inclusive and diversified culture in which BEAUTY is emerging as newly equal stakeholder.

BEAUTY is called upon by a society this time around in a truly revolutionary way; not as a force of “wiping out the old” as modernism did before it, but to replace this totalitarian approach all together, thus perhaps even preserving the institutions from complete collapse under their own totalitarian weight.

BEAUTY is needed once again. BEAUTY is relevant. BEAUTY is an instinct central to our survival and self-preservation as a species.

BEAUTY is a life-long pursuit, a selfless service, an ever-doomed quest for a so-unattainable perfection where the road is just as enthralling and self-constructing as the ever-elusive destination.

This is where the enormous social function of BEAUTY comes shining as an un-vandalized Mona Lisa smile.

This is a short comment on my posting of this program received from my newly true FB friend Jeremy Betancourt:

“Awh beauty! It has surely changed my life. I was once nearly prison bound, and then there was the beauty of traditional impressionism and the friends that teach me the ways of the impressionist. I was saved, and now I see a different kind of beauty in everything around me. I wish everyone could see this way. It would be a much more beautiful world. Target the youth!”

What could be more perfectly unambiguous and straight-forward than this truly BEAUTIFUL personal story and than showing life as it is?

That’s really I think, what we do as artists is all about, at the end of the day. It’s not about the galleries selling more, not about critics who write more of what sells for most, spanning it out with every lever of their dwindling yet still formidable power. This entire system as it is today is going down anyway. It is about somehow and in someway giving something lacking or needing deeply in their soul to those kids on the streets and their families by us the artists.

From my perspective, I can say that some of the most gratifying moments of my professional career were when new Latino laborers came on the site of my work on the “Circle” and the otherwise constantly annoying, teasing construction workers would take them around and show them what I do. Their un-polluted and direct response and reaction was worth more to me than piles of politicized “criticism.” Or at my joint show at the counter-commercial experimental IGM gallery of USC when I collaborated with a very young and super-talented illustrator Raymond Carrillo(when would I ever do a show with an illustrator?!) who turned his jail-bound gang infested life around through his own personal pursuit of ART and TRUTH that somehow perfectly resonated with everything I ever hope of doing.


Because of Raymond, I met a remarkable group of young guys all of whom are charting their “way out” through pursuit of ART just like Jeremy B. did.

Gang-bangers. Taggers. Visual Talents.

They don’t have much in their lives, but the one thing they do have is the sense of what’s real and what’s bull shit…and its huge…

How many ARTISTS like them do we lose daily in senseless inner city shoot-outs, gang crap?!

I’m privileged to know them. They are my friends.

They feel and know more about ART than any pompous and corrupt art establishment’s critic ever will.

They are fed up with the crap. They need BEAUTY as a shining light on their own way out…and up.

The official establishment’s creed and tyranny of “ugly” is attempting quite pathetically to fake the real-world ugliness. Victims of this real world ugliness know exactly what it is and not through those cocktail parties and “oh, so intellectual conjunctures.” They courageously want out. Don’t dare anyone keeping them down saying it is “good” – it is not.



Jeremy Betancourt now has a dream of starting a youth center in his town to share his path through BEAUTY. Shouldn’t we all think of anything we can do? Shouldn’t we all find a way to share our main asset, the best work we can ever master, with this BEAUTY hungry audience if the world of institutional power failed in this?

BEAUTY has a clear social function right now – it heals the wounds of modernity.

Yes, “BEAUTY WILL SAVE THE WORLD”…if we are daring enough to will it!!!!!

Viva, NOVO!!!!!!!