Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cage is getting to me

It’s weird for me to think of birds having preferences. I’ve never had pets and I’ve really never been able to understand why people think that they can think. And yet, surprisingly to me, I really liked the idea of birds liking to sing. Not just singing for mating purposes, or for territorial purposes. Singing because they really like to sing. It makes me think that music is an even more primal part of us than I was thinking. I like the idea of music transcending thought and, even, species. I have an immediate bad reaction to things like the Manifesto for Silence because I love music and I think it is a natural, healthy, human thing. People have always understood music.
Why is it that we all enjoy listening to certain beats, that some sounds put together we can agree are beautiful?
Why is it that some music, without words can express emotions that we all basically agree on? What is it about sounds that are sad or happy?
Why could any untrained ear that is not totally tone-deaf tell that a minor chord is sad and a major chord is happy? I think we’re getting at something profound here, but I’m not sure what it is. Is it God?
Is it religion? Is it just, as Hartshorne proposes, aesthetics?
What does aesthetics mean? My first reaction is that this is a shallow idea.
I’ve heard that babies react to seeing a beautiful person. Babies can tell the difference between a beautiful and an ugly person. This distinction is not learned. I was and still I am a little unsettled by this information. Even babies are that shallow?
But maybe aesthetics goes deeper than that. Hartshorne says that having intelligent conversation is an aesthetic activity. I think I need to look that up. Aesthetics--Of or concerning the appreciation of beauty or good taste. I don’t think that helped. The question is: what in the world is beauty or good taste? And does this word extend to more things than just the physical, the visual?
If it does, then maybe I agree. Morality is not enough; I agree well enough with that.
Because morality, many times, turns into a list of things one is not permitted to do.
Do not sin.
But then again, there are sins of omission.
Which ones are sins? This is all starting to sound like the difference between music and silence. Which ones are sins? I think I’m starting to get to nothing—reading Cage for that long out loud must have unhinged something in my brain.
If aesthetics is our number one goal: staying interested, being pleased with life, loving the life we are living right now, not one in the near or far future; I think all of the rest would fall into place. If we love life, if we enjoy it at its deepest, at its simplest then we will act morally, in order to preserve this state.
Do not kill. That would deny us the aesthetic of life. Do not lie. That would deny us the aesthetic of truth. Do not have any other gods before the one God. That would deny us the aesthetic of divinity. Isn’t there an aesthetic in the divinity we choose to believe in? Should we be constantly questioning ourselves, asking if what we are doing has an aesthetic value? Is everything else purposeless? Or is purpose exactly what we want to stay away from? Should we be learning only if we find it beautiful, not for any purpose? Does that not bring us happiness but only economic security? Why live if you do not enjoy? But what should you enjoy? Aren’t there things that are not beautiful which are still interesting, which are still worth knowing about? Did I just reach nothing by coming full circle? But isn’t a circle beautiful?

No comments: