On Beauty

Episode 52 · July 31st, 2019 · 1 hr 15 mins

About this Episode

The idea that beauty might denote an actual quality of the world, something outside the human frame, is one of the great taboos of modern intellectual thought. Beauty, we are almost universally told, is a cultural contrivance rooted in politics and history, an illusion that exists only in human heads, for human reasons. On this view, a world without us would be a world without beauty. But in this episode Phil and JF explore two texts, by James Hillman and Peter Schjeldahl, that dare to challenge the modern orthodoxy. For Hillman and Schjeldahl, to experience the beautiful is precisely the break out of human bondage and touch the Outside. Beauty may even be one of the few truly objective experiences anyone could hope for.

Peter Schjeldahl, “Notes on Beauty,“ in Uncontrollable Beauty: Toward a New Aesthetics
James Hillman, “The Practice of Beauty,” in Uncontrollable Beauty: Toward a New Aesthetics
C.G. Jung's retreat, Bollingen Tower
Ugly public art in Palo Alto
Dave Hickey, Air Guitar: Essays on Art and Democracy
Deleuze and Guattari, “Of the Refrain,” from A Thousand Plateaus
Roger Scruton, Beauty
Weird Studies, Episode 36 -- On Hyperstition
Weird Studies, Episode 33 -- The Fine Art of Changing the Subject: On Duchamp's "Fountain"
Lionel Snell, My Years of Magical Thinking
George Santayana, The Sense of Beauty
Ingri D'Aulaires, D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths
Messiaen, Quartet for the End of Time
Christian Wiman, He Held Radical Light
God, Book of Job