Knock-on Aesthetics

One of the most odious facets of the liberal zeitgeist is the notion of unjudging relative taste: “Some watch Love Island, Some listen to Pergolesi” each as valid with no overt hierarchy. Just as liberalised as the endless choice of cuisine to eat, clothes to wear or government building to besiege. Kant, didn’t you know he was racist?, Have you read Schopenhauer?, despite the sexism, it would be brilliant to see a Wagner Opera, shame about the anti-Semitism. As it happens unjudging taste ironically sees such interests as: ‘pretentious’, the projection of a subterranean knowledge that nobody will be weeping when the marble of Hollywood is finally bulldozed.

Unjudging taste is the glue that holds the flimsy corpse of the Western world together under the pretence that all aesthetics are mere epiphenomenon. As it happens, the nature of social reality is the opposite direction, we are the products of the implied values of our aesthetic environment. It is no coincidental miracle that consumerist-types feel at home in uniform prefab semi-detached suburbs, brutal communist larpers fulfilled by the Barbican and ‘secular’ small-c conservatives unable to explain why they rank Poundbury so highly.

Unjudging taste leads to a world where the detritus of the urban environment and forgotten country highways are not only subjectively beautiful but ethically permissible. As soon as a deliberately discarded piece of aesthetic terrorism touches an environment it alters judgement more than the mere introduction of new matter, signalling a change to values and the permissible treatment of the environment. Value change occurs on an exponential scale. 0 isn’t anything, you can’t do much with 0 but the introduction of that first piece of mismanagement leads to the permissibility of the next hundred. It seems intuitive to us that its less wrong to mistreat an already ruined environment than one with an unblemished aesthetic. Consider the fact that rubbish disposed of isn’t actually disposed of, merely organised in landfill. Perhaps we find who started the landfill.

I can’t convince you out of your relativism, necessarily, I would have to appeal to a fixed point. Aesthetic error-theory has wrecked havoc, not merely on the eyes but also our ethical judgement. Next time you encounter that which disgusts you: make note of the flies that buzz in the air. Find beautiful things, beautiful things lead to beautiful people, and hope your beholding eye can aspire in the direction of that it reflects.