Wednesday, July 2, 2014



Style is a matter of taste.  It's personal.  And here's a big word:  subjective.

Style is subjective.  What's hot and what's not?  This depends on who's playing critic.  Who's dreaming up a list of do's and don'ts, shoulds and coulds.  Woulds and would nots.  Think Fashion Police meets lunch with friends at that vegetarian Thai place on Olympic with the cute tea cups.

But here's the thing:  people generally agree when an outfit doesn't work.  When a pair of shoes throw off the perfect dress--an unkempt hairstyle, say, or a broach that looks like it was a gift from Grandma Paddington Bear last Christmas.

All else--well, it's a matter of taste.

Like poetry, like music, like food, like painting.  Not each pair of eyes or ears will size up an art object similarly.  Aesthetic subjectivity is a subject that interests me.  As does the word aesthetic.  Like "subjective", it's big.  Like "antiseptic", there's something clean about saying it.

Is there an objective standard for beauty?  I want to say yes because there seems to be an objective standard for its opposite.  But here's what complicates the subject.  Here's what makes it juicy:  emotion & memory.

An "ugly" pair of shoes, for instance, might seem beautiful if it has sentimental value.  And then there's the matter of intimacy--of time.  A piece of music I didn't like at first might grow on me after a dozen replays--or if a cherished friend insists its beautiful.  Our likes and dislikes depend on more than just some sixth sense of knowing.  They depend on chance, experience, and the unstable preferences of an evolving self--as well as our circle of influence.

Anyhow, why am I thinking about this on a random Wednesday afternoon in July??  Because I want to buy a chandelier.  I want a grandiose chandelier.  And if not, then I want to write a poem inspired by a chandelier.  And what makes one chandelier more beautiful, pleasing, and preferable than the next?

It's a matter of taste.  And I'm drawn to the idea that beauty is complicated.  And the ability to appreciate beauty in all its diversity seems a province of the wise--a mysterious skill--like love. 

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