Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: The Missionary Position

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  • Morgan Nichol,

    I prefer enjoying beauty to understanding it.

    I find beauty in understanding.

    Auckland CBD • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Ruskin and the counter-reaction to Utilitarianism.

    Getting obsure there. But I read he was of the era of Hume.
    And thought pigs unlovely and so used them as an example to dismiss utility being beauty.
    Those old english types eh! sitting round insulting pigs or not. Seems he may have had a distaste for pubic hair as well(pure speculation of course). As he took his vision of the female form from classical greek statues.

    Whatever way Hume and others intended the notion of utility to be taken, in these terms the swine would have been beautiful. And swine are not beautiful.
    Ruskin may have been able to dismiss the theory that the beautiful is the useful

    Still he had some good ideas.
    Oh where was I, thats right looking for a job.
    Now thats an ugly prospect

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I enjoy that.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Finding beauty in understanding, that is.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Subjective of course, but I'm still compelled to disagree.

    Oh, I don't agree with a lot of what Ruskin says, but I find him really interesting anyway. The Stones of Venice contains some weep-makingly beautiful prose, especially if you've just read some of the Utilitarians - JS Mill, Jeremy Betham. And that's what Ruskin is responding to, a doctrine that beauty comes out of utility, and that only. And so you get a wild swing away from that - Romanticism, the Arts and Crafts movement, Wilde's 'art for art's sake'. I think it's much easier now to realise that the "truth" (if truth there is) is somewhere in the middle. But gosh there were some interesting ideas.

    Good art is done with enjoyment. The artist must feel that, within certain reasonable limits, he is free, that he is wanted by society, and that the ideas he is asked to express are true and important.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    And, what really fascinates me, why this neurochemical reaction to this particular thing, and not that one? Why is this thing beautiful, but not that?

    I once viewed a frends dead body minuets after a car have driven over the top of him. His brain had been exposed. I dealt with that, not by shying away, rather I faced up to it as something of fasination. but the aftermath was uncharted teritory. I has been presented with an acute awarness of my own being, not alot made sence and I was turning manic.

    Different people have different with ways of dealing with things that don't make sence. I create my own navigation systoms that serve me well enough, but I think its understandable way some people look for more prescriptive methods of coping with life.

    Is a "spirituality" necessary to be capable of this?
    Isnt an intelligence from which to decide and choose from a variety of plans of action enough (in the case of hominds such as us).

    I'm not convinced you understand the meaning of the word spiritualiy, in the same way that I do. I'll give you a clue. It has very litle to do with incent sticks and candles.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4414 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    I has been presented with an acute awarness of my own being, not alot made sence and I was turning manic.

    Diagonally parked in a parallel Universe?

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    And, what really fascinates me, why this neurochemical reaction to this particular thing, and not that one? Why is this thing beautiful, but not that?

    Evolutionary psychology offers the most compelling theory of origin, namely, that the Darwinian crapshoot equipped us with complex brains to help us to deal better with the challenges of our environment, but of course that discourse can and has been taken way too far - I've heard very serious people explain why we're supposed to like thundras, or the look of people with symmetrical features. Well, I always feel like saying, explain to me the dolce stil novo, then, Pointdexter. Thing is, the origins of our complex brains may reside in evolution but we haven't been hunting or gathering for quite a bit and the interaction of those instruments of cognition and communication with ever-more sophisticated cultures have moulded us into quite different beings, with a tremendous palette of different tastes and attitudes and affinities. Evolutionary psychology may be useful in constructing a theory of how we got there, but it doesn't really understand us in the here and now, I feel - and similarly thinking in terms of chemical reaction is unhelpful.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    I'm not convinced you understand the meaning of the word spiritualiy, in the same way that I do

    Then I'll try this. I'm uncorking a bottle of wine I have been saving. What better time than when one is facing the daunting job market, the aroma is intoxicating enough, the tasting will be sublime Im sure.
    I leave it to breathe and walk to the stereo, a prized possession with speakers a friend has made for me by hand. It took him 8 years in his spare time, but he is a perfectionist, and the crossover coils are tuned to the exact amount of turns (even half and quarter turns) to match that specific speaker the speaker cabinets are made from a deliberately chosen wood and hand rubbed with oil which I have to reapply periodically. The final part of the process was each cabinet's internal volume is tuned by ear to match the speaker(and apparently each speaker that is manufactured is different so the internal volume of the cabinet will always differ).
    I chose an album I love( not telling) gently turn the volume up till the gorgeous sound fills the room( did I mention it comes with a subwoofer so it can rattle windows and beats the best concert sound you have ever heard by miles).

    I've planned a meal to suit the wine( one bottle only Im no lush) and we wait for our company to arrive.
    Of course I will have to turn the volume down. But this moment is sending all manner of pleasure thru my brain and body. I relax close my eyes, and breathe barely at all.

    Whatever rebuffs I will face over the coming weeks, maybe months recede. I feel complete.

    Hows that? "spiritual"?
    If no I'll have to rethink

    Oh fuck it some one lit incense next door

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Oh fuck it some one lit incense next door

    Wankers

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4414 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Rofflenui

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    I'm just groaning at the implied "getting incensed" pun.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1930 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I know, I know - no tangible relationship at all.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    I'm just groaning at the implied "getting incensed" pun.

    So much for moderation: clearly he was quite incensible before dinner even began.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Even so, why some feelings and not others?

    I guess the more simply functional the feeling, the easier it is to ascribe biological reasons. Hunger is something you usually feel right in your gut, and eating gets rid of it, so you can put it down to biology (although I have to say, I think a lot of the time when I'm hungry, it's actually in my mind). But subtler emotions, like love, can present themselves less physically, so you might be inclined to think of them as part of the magical mind.

    Even the physical location of the mind is something that opinions varied on in the past. Many ancient peoples thought that their various thoughts were contained in different parts of the body. The heart was a popular choice.

    Remember that the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless, peacocks and lilies for instance.

    I personally think it's a mistake to think the Utilitarians had no time for beauty. So far as I can tell, they would have considered the beauty itself to be utility. If something that was beautiful brought happiness to people, then it was a very valuable thing. But it is certainly not the only valuable thing to Utilitarians.

    Evolutionary psychology may be useful in constructing a theory of how we got there, but it doesn't really understand us in the here and now, I feel - and similarly thinking in terms of chemical reaction is unhelpful.

    I totally agree. Evolution generally has excellent explanatory power for a lot of things but people tend to forget that:
    1. Evolution is not just genetics. Many systems evolve, including society and ideas. And they evolve far, far faster.
    2. Evolution totally ignores a great many things, if they have no influence on survival. Some things are just that way by chance.
    3. Evolution is sometimes (but not always) aided by diversity, so having a large number of things which are very far from the median, actually helps the species at times. So you shouldn't always look towards the trends.

    To that end, I think that the study of evolution can be very weak at shedding light on human behavior, and mental states.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    incensible before dinner even began.

    Oh behave.

    the study of evolution can be very weak at shedding light on human behavior, and mental states.

    Thats because the Theory of Evolution's explanatory power is still in its infancy in this regard, when it comes to the more complex workings of the mind. Darwin was acutely aware of this I think. Another factor is, maybe, because our ancestors believed that their mind was a divine creation they just werent equipped to understand mental function, and it workings at times so bizarre it was a taboo.
    Although there was a lot of describing of mental states with housing imagery, room upon room, castles in the sky etc.
    Also they were very bad at leaving good records of why they did things. And would periodically destroy, what would today be valuable information, because they thought their god wanted them to. The obvious example the Library at Alexandria.
    And Evolutionary Psychology is, I think, better described as cultural archeology with a bit of speculation thrown in just to make it interesting and relevant.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    So the wine was good?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Thats because the Theory of Evolution's explanatory power is still in its infancy in this regard, when it comes to the more complex workings of the mind.

    Or it could be completely inadequate for the task. It's a possibility. If you really have a scientific mind then you have to countenance it.

    Evolutionism vs Creationism strikes me as in many ways parallel to the Theism vs Atheism divide. In many ways the same motivations can drive people to opposite views, and they find it very hard to realize how similar that they have become to what they consider mortal enemies. Just as Theists seem to think they have all the answers, I've noticed Atheists do too. To take a strong position on the non-existence of God is to give a lot more of a shit about God than agnostics do. To wish to explain all of creation on terms that humans can handle is something that both Evolutionists and Creationists share. It can be hard sometimes to accept that both are just theories, one is just older and more discredited than the other.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    To take a strong position on the non-existence of God is to give a lot more of a shit about God than agnostics do.

    Agree. My father was a devout atheist.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I'm as Atheist as I am Evolutionist. Which is: Leaning towards, but totally aware of the possibility of being totally wrong. I'm not sure if that's technically Agnostic, and these days, I really don't care.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I don't know enough yet to apply labels to my own leanings or understandings. Maybe I'll get there eventually..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Believe it or not, the copyright thread has been fun tonight - check what Jon found.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I don't know enough yet to apply labels to my own leanings or understandings. Maybe I'll get there eventually..

    It's better to just describe them, and let the semantics fall where they may. A word is just name for an idea, you could call your position "Sachaism" and be totally safe.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    Would that make my position "lingerie"?

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1930 posts Report Reply

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