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ABSTRACT: The concept of beauty has been central to the understanding of Aesthetics, but
most modern scholars examine and celebrate Aesthetics presupposing that beauty exists in this
Universe, and that by merely being patrons and proponents of art, they can exercise their
metaphysical-value judgment however they feel is fulfilling.
Contemporary artists fail to realize the etiology and phenomenological value of beauty. The
perfect exemplification of this can be seen in the veritable themes and allegories of
Postmodernism. The fetishistic penchant of Post-structuralists and Post-modernists has made
the treatment of art and literature destructively convoluted and obfuscated, and offers infinite
leeway for analysis of any kind. The trite adage ''Kill the writer’’ has been grossly misused and
misidentified. Having said that, this essay also does not aim to blindly ridicule Postmodernism,
and It will be apparent from the tone of the essay that I myself subscribe to the incontrovertible
absolutism that Postmodernism offers, but only in the sense of axiom and logic. I, however, do
not value and extol the senseless plurality and verbosity of non-analytical assessment that is
ubiquitously pronounced in Postmodern content.
KEY WORDS: postmodernism, beauty, art.
What do we know of beauty? Most of us, from a purely infantile perspective would say that
which works to optimize the pleasure principle. Some might like to see beauty as a purely
visceral thing which can be unhesitatingly succumbed to, in order to alleviate functional mental
trauma. Others might have a more structural and cerebral thought of beauty, by saying that it is
perspective itself! The very nature of having an inadvertent choice of ‘’seeing’’ things, and
appreciating them through a kind of intellectually intoxicating process.
The people of antiquity had their urns, and their amulets, and their ornate ossuaries. They
imparted a sense of infinitization to whatever they felt by various dynamics by seizing the
moment, and letting the moment seize them later on. The sedentary, timeless stills illustrated on
these mosaics proved to be aesthetically carved just to shape perspectives. But what is the
meaning of having such a perspective? Why must the artist craft ‘'perspectives’’ in other
people? It seems to be quite the antithetical thing to self-improvement; to craft another’s
perspective instead of one’s own. Or is it that the shaping of perspectives be mutual? That
through cathexis, the artist invests a part of himself in another, thereby unraveling the deep
seated shadows of both the partakers. I find myself to be in a torrent of inquisition whenever I
am subjected to such ‘’stills’’ or a whole compilation of them.
Whatever Beauty might represent, or whatever she might contain, it is safe to say that we have
molested the true identity of hers. In our rapacious endeavor to proclaim the totality of all
things, we have denied the truth of beauty and the beauty of truth. We have masturbated over
the concept of limits by detracting the boundaries of everything. The unknown was hitherto a
source of great darkness and obscure wonder, but the advent of postmodern motifs meant the
advent of destroying limits and bending everything into a Mobius strip; a non-orientable topology
of meaninglessness. The desultory treatment of working with beauty on one hand, and stoic
methodology on the other has resulted in just one manifestation until now – Decay of all.
I must issue an outright disclaimer at this point – This should not in any way be perceived by the
reader as a disavowal of the tropes of postmodernism, or a polemic on it. It is merely an essay
to harness my discontent with the inevitable decay of all values. It had to happen, it did, and I
can’t but remain indecisive on whether to extract beauty from the destitute of this tragedy, or
moan at the inconceivable loss of humanity. I shall remain existential from my part, but I need to
stress on the utter functional futility of blurring limits. Albert Camus in his remarkable essay –
Helen’s Exile – made a heartfelt attempt to express his discontent with man’s resolution of
beauty. He said that the Greeks upheld the concept of limits, and never dared to shine light on
things which reflected ambiguously. It was destruction of natural order itself, to proclaim what
you cannot understand. They left Beauty to do her bit, and Stoic to do his bit. The two of them
existed in harmony and neither one ever dared to stomp on the other’s forte. To proclaim either
of them, with respect to the other, was to open Pandora’s Box. The gut-wrenching pessimism
that is felt in the urban foliage of today’s decaying jungles is quite the perfect repercussion of
trying to have EVERYTHING understood. Totality is the mother of disproportion. The
appropriation of more than what can be given, results in the non-equilibrium of the whole
system. We have simply overreached all aspects in our attempt to safeguard our Godliness. We
need to circumscribe one within another...within another....within infinitum. We look
at things in more ways than it should be understood. We have extended our elite fetishism for
merging and recreating beyond that which we can function with. This had led to the voracious
sexual tiger to prey on anything and everything. He has no niche, no demarcation, and no
peripheral closure. He has to live in opposition with his own self, and relish in his salacious
appetites in order to safeguard any sense of functionality. He has abandoned all perspectives
on longevity and conformity. He has become a seizer of moments, and a sinner in real time.
Let us for a moment play with the jittery acrobatics of logic. If we establish certain truths, via
certain thoughts, then these truths are truths insofar as we don't allow our thoughts to reflect on
the thoughts themselves. For if we find a contrary approach of thinking which would give us a
contrary truth, but seems as likely an absolute truth as the first one had yielded, then this proves
nothing but the falsity of everything. How can two mutually contradicting aspects yield the same
singular truth? An easy way to slip out of this fallacy would be to censure and falsify the
beholder for his ill-founded judgment. But that would be unknown to beholder, as it would take a
third person to ridicule him. As far as the beholder is concerned, his conception of the truth irrespective of however long it lasts for - IS the truth. Existential crisis seemingly is borne out of
this solipsistic and catastrophic vacuum, wherein arguments destroy one another. When the
surety of one argument is not enough to extinguish the desire to know beyond that surety, the
assertions reflect on themselves. The whole thing starts when a madman asks himself, ''What IF
I had taken the other approach?'' and BANG! This annihilates every argument he expounds.
Our eternal lust for destructuralizing the honeycomb of theses to form atomic ideals has earned
us, or rather cursed us with too much to wallow in. Atoms become structures, and structures
become atoms. One way or another, we find ourselves somewhere in the middle of these
becomings, and define our aspects according to the nature of those present situations. There is
no grand fulfillment, just more ways to look at things than there were before, and each ''truth''
redolent of, albeit different from its precursor. We cannot know Beauty. We have over-identified
with her, and have sexualized everything about her in our desperation to embrace the whole of
her. We used to find her sometimes, in our erstwhile attempts; when we were men and women
of temperance and sagacity, when we humbled ourselves to the constraints and limitations of
her eloquence. But now, we have defeated her, and are soon about to defeat ourselves.
''Man cannot do without Beauty''
-Albert Camus.
Comprehensive reading of ‘’Nausea’’, by Jean Paul Sartre
Miscellaneous notes from ‘’The Myth of Sisyphus’’, Albert Camus (particularly Helen’s Exile)
‘’Postmodernism disrobed’’, Richard Dawkins (important themes found in this commentary)
Commentary on ‘’Intellectual Imposters’’, Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont
Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy: Stoicism