Alice in Texas

Not writing here anymore- see top post for details of my new blogs.

Friday, June 24, 2005

G-d is in the details


It's the fabulosity of all sorts of things in and about everyday life that I am loving at the moment. My piano. The cleverness of having lots of shady trees in a Texan garden. Antique kitchen cupboards vastly more sensible and helpful than modern kitchen units. Wooden floorboards. My piano. Also, my piano. On the other hand, I am finding supermarkets unpleasant, ugly and repulsive, with their wall-to-wall second-rate contents. And I have developed total TV intolerance. It's the adverts. They are like being SHOUTED AT BY IDIOT STRANGERS RIGHT IN YOUR EAR. It got turned on the other week for about five minutes before my protests resulted in a successful and ongoing TV embargo. Whew. The adverts, and also the shows. MORE IDIOT PEOPLE SHOUTING. However, my piano is great. And the neighbours like it too, luckily.

If you seek out beauty and disregard the vulgar and repellent, you may start to notice how they correspond with goodness and its opposite too. Or maybe those qualities are the same things. In the eighteenth century, people used to think that aesthetic appreciation was a matter of wisdom and education. Aesthetic value wasn't assigned to anything that happened to turn you on; it was the music of the spheres, a deep kind of perfection only detectable to human beings who took great pains to become aware of it. This phenomenon was known as "taste". It was a refined kind of wisdom, one which only morally sound people were considered capable of acquiring.

Well, I've been buying furniture lately, and I am here to tell you that taste still exists, along with its opposite, horribleness.

Apparently, attraction and repulsion are the first emotions human beings become aware of. This makes sense to me. They are the most basic instincts of relationship to the rest of the world. We should be drawn to what is good and repulsed by what is bad. And I don't have time for anyone who deludes himself that these instincts can be rightly completely overlaid with reasoning. Nobody is clever enough to get that right.

On the other hand it is mind-boggling folly to decide that anything you instinctively find attractive must be good for you. So how do we go about improving our instincts, informing them with sensible new information, tuning up our taste-o-meters?

It's an active process. We need to get out there, take risks, make mistakes, learn from them and build our mental muscles. We need to find and listen to good advice, then try it out, and learn from what happens consequently.

Everyone's path is unique, but one guarantee for all is that if you don't make the effort, it definitely won't happen. That seems like the biggest risk of all, to me.

And on the other hand, there are things like this. I'm not writing about politics currently, but I have to state one time that the whole Gaza withdrawl thing seems so obviously wrong to me it's pretty much beyond debate. The detail Robert Avrech blogs about entirely reinforces my views, as if they needed any reinforcing. I cannot imagine where this will end. If people don't seek enough of the right lessons, those lessons will seek the people out anyway before too long.

Time to play the piano. All the creative and entertainment benefits of a video games system, only more so.


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