Recently, I had the privilege of interviewing my very artsy neighbors, Marc and Brenda Hooper, on the topic "Aesthetics of Beauty." They do not claim to be experts on the subject matter, but sometimes it's nice to hear the opinions of thoughtful members of the American public. The questions centered on Art and Literature. Our discussion was so enlightening, I just had to share their thoughts with you, dear Scribblers and Book Bandits.
The "aesthetics of art and literature" is the philosophical side of entertainment. Really, who decides what is appropriate to watch or read? Or what is appropriate to create and display? And by what criteria? Although the interview may not have all the answers you're looking for, maybe it will get you started. Next week, I'll post my analysis of their thoughts, according to my Philosophy textbook. I'll also include a list of sources which you can check out for more information. I'm still forming my own opinion about all of these things, so I'm interested to hear what anyone may have to say in response to their thoughts.Here is what we came up with! :
1.) I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Do you think Beauty is a real quality of things, or just a matter of personal opinion?
· Marc: The media tries to influence our ideas of beauty, but it actually is in the eye of the beholder.
· Brenda: At this point in my life, I recognize that it is in the eye of the beholder. Like many young people today, I might have aligned my opinion with the crowd when I was younger.
2.) What is a work of art? Can we define “art,” or just identify it?
· Marc: A person’s life work is their art. I work in agriculture. When I see a beautiful farm, it’s like art. I’ve seen some ugly farms, too! Art is not restricted to fine arts.
My textbook includes an example of a man who displayed a urinal, turned it 90 degrees, and called it art. Would you?
· Brenda: No!
· Marc: It depends on your perspective. Some people might see it as art.
3.) Do you think there are standards, relative or absolute, for art? Should there be?
· Marc: We have freedoms in America that other countries don’t have, like freedom of speech. America has relative rules, but other countries have absolute standards of what is and isn’t allowed. We need some standards, but not too many because they could get controlling.
· Brenda: There aren’t many standards here, and I don’t think there should be. Objective standards would take away an artist’s individuality.
Some people feel that Michelangelo’s nude statue of “David” is crude. They draw a line there. How do you feel about drawing these lines?
· Marc: We shouldn’t.
· Brenda: I don’t think we should go back to the Victorian Age, but I think our standards have been set too low, here. Lingerie ads like those of Victoria’s Secrets are ridiculous. I suppose we do need some standards.
4.) What is the proper relation between art and ethics? Can we make moral assessments of them?
· Brenda: Sometimes the church needs to be woken up. The opinions of others can be hard to swallow, but we need to hear them. We can make moral assessments, and we do, but we shouldn’t always count things out. Honestly, if parents guarded their children, this might not be such a problem.
· Marc: Moral standards are needed in order to protect children.
I see that you both feel the need to protect children. What about standards for adults?
· Brenda: Adults can filter out whatever they need to, but children need help from their parents with that.
5.) How do you feel Christianity should manifest itself through art?
· Brenda: There are certain things I would expect to see. I would hold a Christian artist to a higher standard; if you claim Christianity, you are claiming a higher standard.
· Marc: Because you can teach your audience through art, we need to see their beliefs through it.
6.) Do you believe in any kind of art censorship?
· Brenda: There should be some. Schools should be allowed to pick and choose what art goes on their walls, and what books go in their library.
· Marc: Censorship scares me somewhat, but I think it’s important to protect kids.
7.) What kinds of differences would you expect to see in art by a Christian, as oppose to a non-religious person?
· Brenda: There are definitely certain things I would expect to see. I would hold a Christian artist to a higher standard; if you claim Christianity, you are claiming a higher standard.
· Marc: Because you can teach your audience through art, we need to see their beliefs in their art.
8.) How do you feel about profanity in Literature?
· Brenda: Profanity is offensive and unnecessary in Literature and movies. I won’t stop reading or watching, usually, but I don’t like it.
· Marc: Profanity sullies the quality.
A Christian friend of mine believes that in order to portray the truth, a writer must stay true to the speech of a character, which may include profanity. How do you feel about that?
· Brenda: I disagree with it. We should try to understand why people use profanity, but if you want to effect a change, you can’t be drawn into it yourself. There are better ways to paint a picture of a person.
· Marc: I disagree with that perspective. Cursing shows the poverty of their thoughts.Check out Part II for an analysis of their thoughts, and some resources. Thanks for stopping by!
Photo Credit: Engelsma, Chris. "A Sennheiser Microphone." Wikimedia Commons. 28 July 2009. 19 Oct. 2012.