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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Aesthetic values vs Aesthetics

"He could assure Eustace that Bologna was living up to her ancient reputation. They were doing the most exciting work in crystallography; and in his latest lectures on Aesthetics, Bonomelli was using all the resources of modern psycho-physiology and the mathematics of many directions. Nothing quite like Bonomelli's Aesthetics had ever been seen before.

Eustace wiped his mouth and drank some Chianti.

'I wish one could say the same thing of contemporary Italian art,' he remarked, as he refilled his glass from the big-bellied flask in its swinging cradle.

Yes, the other admitted judicially, it was quite true that easel paintings didn't amount to much in modern Italy. But he had seen the most remarkable specimens of socialized and civic art. Classico-functional post offices, giant football stadiums, heroic murals. And, after all, that was going to be the art of the future.

'God,' said Eustace, 'I hope I shan't live to see it!'

Paul De Vries signed to the waiter to remove his almost untouched plate of lasagne, hungrily lighted a cigarette and continued:

'You're a specimen, if I may say so, of Individualistic Man. But Individualistic Man is rapidly giving place to Social Man.'

'I knew it,' said Eustace. 'Everyone who wants to do good to the human race always ends in universal bullying.'

The young man protested. He wasn't talking about regimentation, but integration. And in a properly integrated society a new kind of cultural field would arise, with new kinds of aesthetic values coming into existence within it.

'Aesthetic values!' Eustace repeated impatiently. 'That's the sort of phrase that fills me with the profoundest mistrust.'

'What makes you say that?'

Eustace answered with another question.

'What's the colour of your wallpaper in your bedroom at the hotel?' he asked.

'The colour of the wallpaper?' the young man echoed in a tone of astonishment. 'I haven't the faintest idea.'

'No, I thought not,' said Eustace. 'And that's why I mistrust aesthetic values so much.'"

--- Time Must Have A Stop / Aldous Huxley
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