That argument reminds me somewhat of the approach taken by Roger Scruton and some other conservative thinkers as it suggests a sort of “rightness” or benevolence to beauty that is different than the sublime, which might be true, or it might be connected to a way of seeing the world or art which adheres to a certain set of values, making the differentiation more difficult to hold.
Yeah, I would imagine Scruton’s thinking is more directly influenced by Kant (as was, in a different way, Lyotard’s), but Kant was certainly himself influenced by Burke. Kant ultimately connects the experience of the sublime to what he calls ‘moral culture’ (basically his argument is that the whole experience of the sublime would not be possible if people had no received sufficient moral training (education) to allow them to recognize the importance of their own faculty of reason.
Yes, I would imagine it could hardly be otherwise as I simply can’t see Lyotard and Scruton intentionally agreeing on much otherwise. The Kant concept, at least, offers some mechanism for the shift in art appreciation over time, without which the definitions employed become particularly troublesome as there is either a constant, in which case appreciation changed without a clear reason, or there isn’t in which case the definitions are hard to hold.
Beautiful and terrible. This is how I like to think about sublime, though I’m aware of the word’s evolution from Longinus on. In natural terms, something like a tornado could be said to be sublime.
In terms of film, I think Taxi Driver is a good example—what Travis is trying to do is actually a beautiful thing, while the execution itself is ugly.
Keep talkin’, Mubi heavyweights. :D
I think that beauty is often about self-reflection, or desired self-reflection. If we see something that looks like us or looks like a way we wished we looked, we find it beautiful. Kind of like what Santino mentioned earlier, it’s about connecting and relating to something.
From this same token though, people have “ugliness” in them as well as beauty. So, when we see something “ugly”… like in Taxi Driver, we connect and can relate to it if it’s honest, and therefor in a way can find it beautiful.
Film-wise, I’m thinkin’ more along the lines of Antonioni and Tarkovsky
. . . though I see where you’re going with Taxi Driver
I think a lot of Tsai’s films could be called sublime—Vive l’amour with its terrible view of alienation in modern urban living, or Goodbye Dragon Inn with its deteriorating theater, its lost and lonely patrons. Nonetheless, these are beautiful films because they expose something true about the human condition.
Mike Leigh for me, he loves to cast some uh shall we say more “charactery” types.
Now, are these people ugly? Maybe. If I saw them on the street would I find them to be ugly? I probably would, but to Mike Leigh perhaps they are beautiful, and through the prism that is Mike Leigh when watch his films, I too can find the beauty in them.
so what we’re saying here goes back to the op: truth is beauty and beauty truth. if we consider the sublime a part of beauty. and there’s no art without truth imo. thx for clearing up the ‘sublime’, at least as much as is possible, guys
For a recent example, take The Turin Horse. Every single frame is absolutely gorgeous, but what it’s showing from start to finish is nothing but strife, lack, and the texture of the hardships of life.
For those who think of the sublime as a juxtaposition of beauty and terrible or pleasure and pain, what about films that seem to be all about pain or the terrible? For example, is there beauty in Taxi Driver? Perhaps, we can say that Bickle’s heart is in the right place. What about something like Salo? And I’m assuming there is a difference from pointless depictions of horror and pain from the sublime. Or what about art that mostly depicts beauty and pleasure? Does this fail to be sublime? Must all good or great art juxtapose beauty or ugliness?
I think anything can be beautiful as long is there is a human being behind it, or it its core. In other words, as long as there is “meaining” behind it, as you said, then it can be “good art” or “beautiful”, regardless of how on the surface “ugly” or “immoral” it may appear.
Life is sometimes ugly. Art deals with life. Therefore art must sometimes be ugly.
(and if an urn tries to tell you otherwise, don’t listen)
haha ^ so we’ve established that the ‘sublime’ is hard to define but think of it as something beyond beauty. maybe ‘awe-inspiring’ is closer. as axel said, as long as there is meaning, i.e. truth, in it, art isn’t defined by surface beauty
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” – that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
I think the urn is telling me to go see Titanic today in 3D
One of the things which strikes me about some of the examples or responses given is that there appears to be something of an attitude where “beauty” is more linked to the form or surface of a film, and ugliness to the “message” or content of it. Not exclusively of course, but within some of the replies there the assessment of each seems to be split between two opposing ways of looking at the film in question, which puts each definition into covering separate aspects of the film rather than only focusing on either the surface or the content or using them both in a more holistic way.
Jazz’’s original question, I think, is informed by this as it seems he is using beauty and ugliness in two slightly different ways. While, in his case, I don’t think it is exactly a “surface”/“content” split he is implying, I do get the feeling that the initial concept of beauty slips from how it may relate to truth, roughly speaking, the world as it “is” towards how we might wish to see the world. Truth/beauty in the first sense is largely value free, other than holding to the value of truth itself of course, and is concerned with seeing clearly. The second sense of those terms seems more concerned about the movie holding an attractive vision of the world, that is to say in showing us a world that might better suit our aesthetic either or both visually and morally. So, in a way, they are slightly different questions pertaining more to apprehension than the things being apprehended.
Or to put it in yet a different way, truth/beauty in the first sense is opposed by falsity, which is always ugly no matter how pleasing that falsity might otherwise be. While truth/beauty in the second sense is opposed by ugliness, where the desire to see things as you wish them to be is more important than seeing than as they are or “flawed”. The poem, of course, is holding both these ideas simultaneously and in an unresolved form, which is what gives it it’s particular power, it goes either way depending on how one approaches the subject, suggesting each is simultaneously true, albeit contradictory.
Well, yeah, and I think there’s a degree of ineffability inherent in the sublime. It overflows the urn, so to speak.
Yes, the “mystery” can be seen as caught up between the ephemeral and the eternal and the perspective on each towards the other in a way.
I’m getting cross-pollinated reading other threads, so I just thought I’d throw in the Catholic “ugliness” (I mean this as a positive, by the way) of Abel Ferrara here:
End of discussion as we creep away in horror… LOL
Yeah, see Abel Ferrera… that guy is a little heavy on the ugly and a little light on the truth imho…
^ ha ha ha! Yeah. HATED Bad Lieutenant. Talk about over the top silliness. Jazz knows never to go see that movie with me, he’d get mad because I’d be laughing during the serious parts… ;)
“Yeah, see Abel Ferrera… that guy is a little heavy on the ugly and a little light on the truth imho…”
Huh? Care to elaborate?
:D Blood… Blooooooodddddd!