Originality?

Is it even possible?

It isn’t hard to make the argument that everything is stolen or borrowed, that there isn’t an original idea to be had.  There were only so many first ideas, and now we’re all just stealing and borrowing.

Because of my limited knowledge I can’t say this with certainty.  But it certainly seems to be true.

The question, then, is not whether or not you borrow or steal, but what you do with what you borrow or steal. If all you worry about is originality you will likely fall prey to paralysis by analysis.  You will always find someone doing what you want to do or creating something you want to create.

Try instead to focus on what you would do with this or that idea.  How would you apply it?  How could you mix it, combine it, toss it together with another idea or concept?   Perhaps the idea isn’t new at all but nobody has succeeded at doing anything useful or productive or beautiful with it.

These are the questions you should truly ask.  And who knows, you might find yourself being original.

Websites

In contrast to my previous post, this post is about the functionality of beauty.

It isn’t that beauty is or is not functional but that it may or not be. Certainly a thing’s beauty is not directly correlated with its functionality per say.  The Dodge Viper is more beautiful than the Chevy Corvette to someone not because the Viper is more functional.  It has certain unique that the beholder finds more attractive and that’s about the gist of it.

That being said a thing can certainly be beautified by its functionality. A carpenter may have a ten year old hammer.  To the untrained eye the thing may be coarse, stained, plain, and definitively not beautiful.  But the carpenter sees the supreme functionality of the thing and so sees a beauty the untrained does not.

This measure can be applied to virtually anything.  You may dislike a shoe because its unfit for a party.  I may love a shoe because it is exceptionally fit for lifting weights.  I then find the shoe beautiful and you don’t, not really because it pleases my eye more than another shoe (it likely is not very attractive to be honest) but I see what the shoe is capable of and appreciate it.

A website can even be viewed this way.  You may pull up a beautiful real estate website.  It flows, it fills your screen with beauty and image and luxury.  It is meant to draw you in to the home it is selling you.  There might not be much language or anything to distract from this beautiful home.

In contrast a website designed to promote your local Costa Mesa plumber may be quite the opposite.  It’s catering to someone who is likely in a hurry, in distress, and needs to get Steve the plumber on the phone as soon as possible.

The average person would likely find the first website to be more beautiful.  But place the average person in a bathroom flooding from a clogged sewage drain, watch them find the plumber website designed in the manner of the real estate home, and they will not likely find it very beautiful or satisfying.  Again, another example of a thing’s beauty being enhanced or decreased by its functionality.

Don’t judge a book by its cover, until you know what the cover is meant to do.  Maybe its doing a great job attracting you, maybe its meant to do the opposite.

Cars

Automobiles are a wonderful example of human perception and interaction with beauty.

We see with cars that beauty is truly not attached to functionality.  Beauty is tremendously subjective, in its own way.

Cars are everywhere, right?  In the United States they are of course.  They all, for the most part and with little exception, serve the same purpose. They get you from A to B, maybe carry some stuff or people for you.  Some are most task oriented, like dump trucks or UPS vans.  But for the most part we all use cars for the same reasons.

So why are they all so different?  Of course you could argue that trends in car design are easy to spot and you might not like many designs because they’re all  the same.

But it remains that there are quite an overwhelming amount of cars to choose from if you’re in the market.  At the end of the day the deciding factor, besides price of course, is how the car will make you feel.

We all want to feel beautiful, strong, fast, confident, worthy, influential. Even if you personally wouldn’t use those words explore your verbage to its core and you’ll find we’re all chasing the same things.  The catch is not all cars make all people feel this way.  For some its a convertible, others an SUV, others a motorcycle and so on.

But we’re all chasing the same thing: vanity.  Myself included.  I want a car I don’t have and even have the car I do have for certain reasons. I want a newer, bigger, manlier SUV.  The car I do have, even though it was inexpensive and I didn’t have a lot of money to give me many options when I was buying, makes me feel a certain way.  I feel practical and even a tad original driving my car.

The pursuit is the same whether I’m driving a hybrid, a sports car or cheap old everyday car, isn’t it?  Not to say we’re all “satisfied” by the car we have (we could argue none of us are) but we are indeed chasing the same white rabbit.

The Three Pillars

Is beauty in the eye of the beholder?

This age old question has perplexed and baffled many a philosopher. We’re all philosophers of course.  We just don’t all take pride in the label.

I don’t mind it in the least.  Though I do prefer the term, aesthete.  An aesthete shares with the philosopher the love of the abstract, the ambiguous, that which escapes language itself. But the aesthete carries the unique love of things not just for their meaning.  A things beauty is almost equally as valuable as its purpose, to the aesthete.

I say “equally” in place of “as” because beauty is not everything.  Beauty is not the only measure of value.  Fear of it ever is.  Beauty by its very nature is prone to deception.  And those who want to deceive?  They’re not usually without ulterior motives.

Beauty has been used for great evil throughout human history.  The orator plays with the beauty of sound, cadence and idea to manipulate his hearers to his own perspective.  While oration has been used for loads of good it has of course been used for as much or more evil.

Oration is perhaps the most easy to demonstrate.  Yet film, literature and even sculpture have all been used for great evil themselves.

For these reasons beauty must not reign supreme or stand without qualification.  My contention, in line with many a philosopher, is that beauty is in fact increased when in line with two other particular philosophical categories- truth and goodness.

These three- beauty, truth, goodness- are at their fullest each when combined together.  Beauty without truth is a distorted beauty.  Goodness without truth is ultimately harmful.  Truth without beauty might not be good at all, and so on.

So while I’ll indulge myself with my own musings on beauty on this website I do not wish it to reign supreme.  A thing will be measure not by its beauty alone but also according to its representation of truth and degree of goodness.

Here’s to beauty!