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The very experience of beauty might have been born out of the appreciation of violence: more than the engorging feeling of having prey in your jaw, the direct joy for the depth of the cut the fangs made (and, latter, the stone arrow head, the copper blade, the laser gun).

Obviously, in the genealogy of concepts, beauty must be very old, maybe the first-born of Violence, the first grandchild of Abstraction. A lot of time is needed to make an mental labour (the judgement of beauty) so rooted that it is felt as a perception (pleasure). I am talking about a time when we naked chimps and lemurs were the same thing for all particular purposes.

That is why beautiful and artificial were once the same word: for beauty is the violence i practice on my brother, or my father practices on our enemies, or my chieftain practices on the world, or my president practices on the international system. Beauty (or art) is that which i can make. It is the exercise of one’s Power (though Power itself is actually another child of Violence, and thus not directly correlated to Beauty in the genealogy).

It is very, very common to think, today, in Nature as the apex of Beauty. That might come from the onanism of the cult of one’s own body. Some Greeks spent lots of time with the Mimesis red-herring. But the kind of Nature that is beautiful is always the garden-nature, the nature that has been contained, cleansed, displaced and organized. Nature as in wild-growth is not very much appreciated — except in the case of ecologists and biologists, for whom the inherent logic of wild-growth is an object of study and, therefore, is also something contained and organized.

But i leave the most fierce (and obvious) criticism of this point-of-view for last: that Violence is Ugly. And to that i can only say that it is not. Violence is not ugly at all.

Violence against us creates fear, which is displeasing, opposed to feeling-comfortable (if you will), but it does not provoke a reaction opposed to feeling-beauty. It normally creates a form of awe. In some cases, if the hit-and-run instinct started by fear cannot run its course, violence-against-us can even create reverence for our enemy, as in Stockholm syndrome.

This kind of awe is felt directly when we are the perpetrators of violence. Shoot-em-out games, for example, give us an intense aesthetic experience. The explosions of Indestructo Tank are pure beauty!

And what’s more: all the “peaceful” forms of beauty are a form of protect-your-community instinct, and the amount of love directed towards your group (what one sees as WE) is directly proportional to the amount of viciousness directed towards the outside (THEM). This is a very strong biological fact. But, after all, it is also understandable: for to create a community you need violence against all displays of non-belonging. (But that is another post…)

One Comment

  1. an excerpt from the script of richard linklater’s movie “waking life”:

    (Main character walking down the street with a man who is holding a can of gasoline – J.C. Shakespeare.).

    A self-destructive man feels completely alienated, utterly alone. He’s an outsider to the human community. He thinks to himself, “I must be insane.” What he fails to realize is that society has, just as he does, a vested interest in considerable losses and catastrophes. These wars, famines, floods and quakes meet well-defined needs. Man wants chaos. In fact, he’s gotta have it. Depression, strife, riots, murder, all this dread. We’re irresistibly drawn to that almost orgiastic state created out of death and destruction. It’s in all of us. We revel in it. Sure, the media tries to put a sad face on these things, painting them up as great human tragedies. But we all know the function of the media has never been to eliminate the evils of the world, no. Their job is to persuade us to accept those evils and get used to living with them. The powers that be want us to be passive observers. Hey, you got a match? And they haven’t given us any other options outside the occasional, purely symbolic, participatory act of voting. You want the puppet on the right or the puppet on the left? I feel that the time has come to project my own inadequacies and dissatisfactions into the sociopolitical and scientific schemes, let my own lack of a voice be heard.

    (He pours gasoline all over himself and lights himself on fire.)


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