Beauty is one area that needs fresh exploration.
Like everything else modernity has appropriated beauty and also turned it into not only a mental act but also an activity to boost the ego. And like for everything else for solutions indigenous culture is one place to explore.
Art as self-expression is a modern construct. In fact, there is no word for art in most of the indigenous communities in spite of them creating beauty all around them. Unlike in modernity for them, beauty is not an afterthought but integral to whatever they do.
To experience beauty truly one has to transcend reason but modernity in general and modern schooling, in particular, thrives on reason, however irrational the basis might be, so much so that even art has been intellectualized, turned into a subject to be taught.
The biggest danger is the promotion of art as a solution to most of the ills that modernity has created- art as therapy, art integrated education, etc.
Beauty is one of the constituents of being Whole.
The three implicit existential questions- why, what, and how, the triad of wholeness- is the fundamental basis for all living beings. ‘Why’ is the ethical element that ensures sustenance of life, ‘What’ is the cognitive element that ensures the right knowledge, and ‘How’ is the beauty element that ensures the ease of action. So beauty is part and parcel of our biological makeup. Beauty is a dynamic configuration of appropriateness inherent in nature. We are born aligned to this configuration and in people in indigenous communities where there is no ‘teaching’ keep up this alignment spontaneously and organically as they grow up. So naturally what they do turns out to be beautiful.
Modernity, due to its mental preoccupation derails us from this alignment. Instead of awakening us to our inherent qualities, education in general and art education in particular conditions us to the mental construct called art and to its various theories on aesthetics. Experience is replaced by mental myth-making.
So, the way art is practiced within the context of modernity is still in the realm of mind even while claiming otherwise because within the context of modernity there is no way we can experience or reclaim the primacy of body and experience. Modernity in general and education in particular systematically create beauty-disabled people along with other cognitive and psychological damages. Most of the time we find ourselves in the state of mentally present but physically absent as we are living in our mind most of the time. To be in communion with the beauty around we need to be present.
How did we become absent and how do we recover our natural way of being present- the way children are all the time till we also make them absent? The paradox is that beauty cannot be understood in the realm of language and probably could tell what is not beauty.
I am offering a retreat for reclaiming the sense of beauty in order to take existential research, inquiry forward.
As words began to dominate our lives, the world seems to have hidden the real, the unexplainable, and where language cannot penetrate. There are many things in life that can only be sensed, felt, and lived. No words can even understand this let alone communicating this. So, words can take to the place where we will be informed that from now on go alone- without words and thoughts. Beauty is one of them. The attempt in the workshop or retreat is to travel to the place where words cannot enter………
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