Wednesday, October 15th, 2003
I want to write about the beauty which I hope one day to create. Beauty I believe is in one sense a quality infused into objects by an artisan by the application of his skill. (The obvious truth that there are many other valid meanings of beauty, many involving neither artisan nor object, should not detract from my examination of this particular one.)
An artisan -- the master of a craft -- this is what I hope to be. In particular I want to understand furniture-making fully enough to create pieces which possess the grandeur and solidity of 17th- and 18th-Century American furniture pieces; which can stand in a room and lend it firmness. To get to that point I will need to work enough with wood to get a real familiarity with the material; and to work enough with my tools that they become extensions of my body.
Update: Here, Mike Recchione says some of what I am trying to get at.
I don't care what kind of tools were used to make the things I have, or even whether they were made in a factory or somebody's basement. The thing that counts is how much of their divine spark the makers put into what they were doing.
I want to write about the type of beauty which I think is essential to -- look, here is the problem: I have this idea to which I am trying to give voice; but I can't get sentence 1 out of my mouth, out of my keyboard -- "I want to write about", this is good, this is what I am trying to say; "the type of beauty", well, that's vague, I'm talking about an æsthetic judgement, so I say "beauty", and I say "type" because there are other possible judgements -- I want to denigrate them but I can't start right off as claiming the point I want to prove, and anyway what point is there in making earnest argument over æsthetic judgement? But ok, let's keep "the type of beauty" -- "which I think is essential" -- "essential"? "Essential to"? To what is this beauty essential? I want to say this judgement, this beauty, is at the root of my essence, it is an important aspect of my psyche, and I want to universalize my experience and say that such beauty is or should be an integral part of a person. But to say as my first sentence that this beauty is essential to my sanity, that does not seem meaningful; and to say that it is essential to our continuance as a psychic community, that sounds pretentious and in the end meaningless too; so what do I say? What do I mean?
Look, I want down the road somewhere to be saying "the problem with modern consumerist society is..." and then finish that statement with a clause describing how my special form of beauty is not sufficiently appreciated hereabouts; at least that is where I see this essay going, the one that is that I sat down to write before I realized I could not write even one sentence of it. But is that really an idea I want to spend my time developing? This question is rhetorical, so I realize as I ask it; the answer to it is "no"; I am sitting down to write the essay with the wrong goal in mind. The proper goal, and one which would bear having me spend some time and effort in attaining it, is to describe the judgement I have in mind and to point to admirable examples of such beauty, without complaining about the times it is not sufficiently in evidence. In this way I may be able to get my point across.