<!-- --><style type="text/css">@import url(https://www.blogger.com/static/v1/v-css/navbar/3334278262-classic.css); div.b-mobile {display:none;} </style> </head> <body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d12582298\x26blogName\x3dStave+It+Off:+1,+2,+3.+And+Now+You+Ca...\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dTAN\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://johnbai3030.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://johnbai3030.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d188078595068074319', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

Friday, September 16, 2005

Our Ugly Secrets

I confess to having a preoccupation with "intentional ugliness". And the question I've been asking myself this week is, "Why?" Why do artistic movements occasionally appear that hold at their center an ethic of deliberately emphasizing their warts? In order to hold my fascination, these movements can't just be ironic. They can't embrace ugliness due to a simple lack of talent. They have to honestly look to the unpleasant for leadership.

Maybe my thoughts were triggered by watching Shallow Hal today (a movie that actually makes some interesting points.)

I think part of my interest comes from looking at what is revealed as people encounter ugliness, or, more to the point, when people encounter truth and beauty wearing the clothing of ugliness. What is it that we deprive ourselves when we avoid the abrasive, when we cringe away from the sickening, when we fear the repulsive? And why do some artists deliberately alienate the audiences who are unwilling to look deeper? In what way does an artist manipulate us by slapping us in the face? Does beauty, by itself, consume our attentions? Is BummerMan just a negative creep? I'd like to know your thoughts.

Have you ever changed your mind about an artist or a movement that you once found revolting?
How do you react when someone else is disgusted by something you find wonderful?
Can you admit to ever liking something because someone else (like Mom or Dad) was horrified by it?
How does this play into your feelings about censorship?
Why is that darn Post Secret blog so incredibly fascinating? _Rants

Labels:

13 Comments:

At 9/17/2005 12:21:00 AM, Blogger diane said...

The 'beauty' of truth is that we are often able to recognize it in all its 'ugly', real, manifestations.

 
At 9/17/2005 12:15:00 PM, Blogger Johnbai3030 said...

Why is this such a kick ass picture: http://lili.butterfly.free.fr/ole/images/prado/goya_cronos.jpg

Why do people collect gargoyles?

Why do Clay and I continue to up the ante to an uncomfortably hostile level when having a discussion? ;)

 
At 9/17/2005 05:04:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cause we're sadists?

 
At 9/17/2005 08:55:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off you ask a lot of questions that aren’t going to necessarily receive in-depth answers because the topics you want to discuss have some substance to them. Truth, beauty, and ugliness are all relative terms about which many reasonable people do differ. The human drama is colored by individuality, community, and the life experience that flows out from those points. It may be cliché but I think that beauty—or a lack thereof—is in the eye of the beholder. In my humble opinion some artists choose to present their work as unabashedly ugly because said ugliness runs counter to the aims and desires of polite society. Some of the human condition is readily apparent from a cursory observation, but much of our lives lay just beneath the surface where many people refuse to look. In our hearts and minds are great tempests of emotion and thought, blowing, or do I mean blown about? We are such feeling creatures true enough and full of furious passions. Aristotle wrote, “The aim of art is not to represent the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance." Usually, but not always someone else has said what we feel or think, and said it better so I tend to agree with the quote I just cited. Everyday society prides itself on its civility but if the truth were told we’d see that people are far less civil than can be imagined. The social philosopher Eric Hoffer once said, “The devil personifies not the nature that is around us but the nature that is within us- the infinitely ferocious and cunning prehuman creature that is still within us, sealed in the subconscious cellars of the psyche.” We know it’s there we just need to find the appropriate medium to tap into it and in my opinion artistic expression appears to do just that. I guess when I really sit down and ponder it I begin to see that ugly really isn’t ugly at all it's just less familiar.

 
At 9/17/2005 10:15:00 PM, Blogger Jon said...

Ugliness is bad, sick, wrong, broken, ill, dangerous; for our survival we need fear to keep us safe from that that may harm us. Yet, we are curious and exploratory - we need to investigate the new to survive. That is maybe why we can be repelled and fascinated by the same thing - we know it is something we should avoid but we cannot help feeling like we want to see it.

 
At 9/19/2005 08:54:00 AM, Blogger Johnbai3030 said...

Two opposing views here on Celebrity Death Match!
In the blue trunks, we have Ugliness as Hidden Devil Within. He packs quite a wallop as he bitterly admits his own infernal nature and casts his blazing eyes upon each of us. He shreds metal riffs on his guitar, spits and snarls and we find a kind of redemption and brotherhood as we identify with his furious passions.

And in the red trunks, we have Ugliness as Survival Mechanism. Preaching ugliness as our own fear and loathing of the unknown, he shows us the dual nature of the unknown... abhorrent and seductive. We need to learn to survive, and we especially need to learn about what seems ugly as that is usually the most dangerous part of the world.

Oddly enough, I think they are both totally right on. But instead of admitting that, I'd like to see some seriously ugly smack down.

 
At 9/19/2005 07:55:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"When we understand that man is the only animal who must create meaning, who must open a wedge into neutral nature, we already understand the essence of love. Love is the problem of an animal who must find life, create a dialogue with nature in order to experience his own being."

~Ernest Becker~

The problem with being human is that we don't ask to be born. We’re a spontaneous production of all that bumping and grinding that goes bee bop in the bedroom, and fuck, on top of all of that we have to figure out what it all means and ascribe to that mass of confusion some value or whim. In truth, there can be no "ugliness" without man to say that it is so. It's sort of like, no matter how hard I try I can't remember what happened before I was born, doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen, it just means that I don’t remember it cause I wasn’t there. I don’t know who said it or why, but being born is the best kinda blindsided. We’re launched or pushed into the great goddamn unknown and fuck if it doesn’t make us howl from the cradle to grave. In trying to figure it out we say this thing is evil or that, but it really equals the same thing. We simply don’t know enough about life to be that definitive, especially prejudicially so. We may give a name to something that has form and shape but in truth a name just settles on the surface, the good stuff’s always a little deeper.

 
At 9/20/2005 03:57:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I confess to having a preoccupation with "intentional ugliness". "

I confess to having a secret affinity for fast guitar solos.

"Why do movements, mostly artistic, occasionally appear that hold at their center an ethic of deliberately emphasizing their warts?"

I can't believe you just implied that every guitar player of the grunge movement played like shit on purpose. It was not a wink-wink situation. Many of those guys just plain sucked. That doesn't mean their music or lyrics weren't touching and powerful. Lots of the music was great. But they weren't all recording albums out of tune on purpose. It was the most rushed and frenetic musical movement of all time.

But keep in mind, that was the natural path of the musical pendulum when hair metal reached its apex and imploded upon itself.

Thanks to Nirvana etc., a kid could walk into a guitar store and think to himself, "So instead of getting the best guitar money can buy, taking lessons, learning to read music, practicing for two or three years, and THEN maybe forming a band, I can just buy that there Fender knockoff and play a live show next week? You mean the rules are all gone?" This was part of the attraction and snowballing effect of grunge. The "I am worthless" lyrical trend was only part of it. In my opinion the primary new ingredient was the "let's form a band and rock out NOW" sentiment that downplayed the usual time investment found elsewhere in music.

Warts are everywhere. If people believe they are ugly in some way, they might relate to that artistic ugliness. Commercially speaking, or just from the perspective of making friends and meeting like-minded individuals, sometimes it pays to present yourself as totally atrocious. The most ugly people are usually the most interesting anyway.

"They can't embrace ugliness due to a simple lack of talent."

They can be united from their shared inability to play their instruments. Maybe they didn't want it that way, but listeners and critics certainly lumped them together because of the shared lo-fi non-technical sound.

"I think part of my interest comes from looking at what is revealed as people encounter ugliness,"

Themselves?

"What is it that we deprive ourselves when we avoid the abrasive, when we cringe away from the sickening, when we fear the repulsive?"

Ourselves?

"And why do some artists deliberately alienate the audiences who are unwilling to look deeper?"

So they can parade around as lofty and mysterious tortured souls who can't be understood by the heathen masses. Maybe instead of deliberately alienating, those artists are just no good at expressing themselves or communicating their ideas.

"Wow, it's a giant wall of human feces. I don't understand it, so it must have deep meaning." You can also substitute a large black monolith for the wall-o-feces.

"In what way does an artist manipulate us by slapping us in the face?"

If we let ourselves get slapped, then we are manipulated as marionettes on strings. Marilyn Manson comes to mind. That guy has slapped more onlookers than, well, a professional onlooker-slapper. But he knows exactly what he's doing. Unlike, say, George Lucas, who keeps slapping us over and over with the same slappery and thinks his humiliating slaps are just love taps.

I guess the deeper question here is - why do we like to be slapped? I know I get a total charge seeing the green "Lucasfilm" logo across the movie screen.

"Does beauty, by itself, consume our attentions?"

For the most part, yes. "Beauty" is what led to my disgust of photography. No one wants to see themselves. They want to see a fictional, glamorized version of themselves. Beauty, and the quest for it, is what makes men hit the gym for an hour and do nothing but chest and shoulder exercises. It's all an aesthetic trash-hunt.

"Is BummerMan just a negative creep? I'd like to know your thoughts."

You're not negative, Hal. You're just misunderstood. Like that black monolith.

"Have you ever changed your mind about an artist or a movement that you once found revolting?"

Only within the last year have I learned to appreciate the work of Kurt Cobain (a sign of my ever-blossoming maturity). Robert Mapplethorpe also. I hope I spelled his name correctly. Don't want him breaking into my apartment and shoving a bullwhip somewhere it don't belong.

"How do you react when someone else is disgusted by something you find wonderful?"

I think I stopped reacting to this sort of situation in high school. I also stopped getting disgusted when I saw other people drink, smoke, etc. Let's just try to enjoy each other a little before we all die, ya know?

"Can you admit to ever liking something because someone else (like Mom or Dad) was horrified by it?"

No.

"How does this play into your feelings about censorship?"

I wish someone would censor your blog. By removing all the words. BAAAAHAHAHAhahaha.

But then there would be nothing to misunderstand and I'd find myself longing for some Bummertalk. Bummer On!

Soapy

 
At 9/20/2005 07:16:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, you don't need eight hundred and forty-five words to say Johnbai's blog should be censored or removed. Let's just ask him; Johnbai, could you censor and or remove everything from your blog immediately?

 
At 9/20/2005 08:20:00 PM, Blogger Johnbai3030 said...

If I censor anything, it'll be unsigned comments (per my threat of several weeks ago.)

 
At 9/21/2005 12:57:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

p.s. my desk at work is full of monster figurines, nihilistic quotes, demonically-treated photos, dragons, gargoyles, wicked jack-o-lanterns, and a close-up of a wolf's bared teeth. what does that say about me?

Soapy

 
At 9/21/2005 01:27:00 PM, Blogger Johnbai3030 said...

Perhaps you're looking for validation for your inner monster. You feel ugly inside, and somehow these figurines and photos help you realize that you're not alone. And that although ugly, this deep part of your self contains great power.

 
At 9/21/2005 05:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Censor unsigned comments?!!

Travis Bickle: [Into the mirror] You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? Then who the hell else are you talkin' to? You talkin' to me? Well, I'm the only one here. Who the f**k do you think you're talking to? Oh, yeah? Okay! [whips out gun] Huh?

 

Post a Comment

<< Home