Ugly

Cebu Daily News - - OPINION - RAY­MUND FER­NANDEZ

Plato said, beauty is the “ob­ject of love;” Aquinas, that beauty is that which “pleases when seen…” Both be­lieved that beauty is uni­ver­sal, true for all and ev­ery­where, un­chang­ing, im­mutable; As if it went ac­cord­ing to the plan of Plot­i­nus’ Cos­mic One. Or, if you will, the will of God or the gods, de­pend­ing on your per­sua­sion. “Beauty is in the eye of the be­holder.” His­tory dif­fers who said it first. Per­haps Plato, Shakespeare, or Mar­garet Wolfe Hunger­ford, who wrote of it in a book, ac­cord­ing to the Net. But beauty, if you went by the Mod­ernist philoso­phers, is not sub­jec­tive. It is still as uni­ver­sal as the Clas­si­cal philoso­phers claimed. Beauty re­sults from an im­me­di­ate and un­medi­ated judg­ment hu­mans make when con­fronted by a beau­ti­ful or ugly thing. The judg­ment comes from the “fac­ulty of taste,” which is the mind’s abil­ity to feel good when con­fronted by the thing of beauty, be it sight, sound, smell, feel­ing or taste. It does not fol­low af­ter rea­son. Rea­son comes af­ter the judg­ment. And when this judg­ment is made from a dis­in­ter­ested per­spec­tive, then this judg­ment can only be uni­ver­sal. I learned all these from the book by Ge­orge Dickie, “Aes­thet­ics: An In­tro­duc­tion.”

It should be re­quired read­ing for artists. But also good gen­eral read­ing for all who want to un­der­stand why and how use­ful is our abil­ity to make judg­ments from the look of things. Imag­ine your­self, walk­ing down a half-dark hall­way. There is no one there. The hall is empty. And yet, you hear a sound. What do you feel? A bit of fear would be ap­pro­pri­ate and for good rea­son. Per­haps the pru­dent thing is to turn around and find a bet­ter way to where you’re go­ing. Or, per­haps to arm your­self, a gun, a big stick might be good. Or you could be in wide grass­land when you see in the dis­tance a pride of lions. Lions would seem beau­ti­ful crea­tures on a mag­a­zine page. But you would be ex­cused if your aes­thetic judg­ment moves you to run away at the first growl. Aes­thet­ics could be hu­man adap­ta­tion re­sult­ing from mil­len­nia of sur­viv­ing a dif­fi­cult, threat­en­ing, and of­ten­times ugly world. Rea­son re­sults in a more re­li­able judg­ment. But when­ever quick com­plex judg­ment is re­quired, noth­ing beats aes­thet­ics.

Thus, I am within rea­son for ap­ply­ing aes­thetic judg­ment into the cur­rent move to have Chief Jus­tice Ma. Lour­des Sereno im­peached or re­signed. It gives no uni­ver­sal “beauty feel- ing” to the “dis­in­ter­ested.” To be per­fectly plain, it is look­ing uglier and uglier the more it is talked about es­pe­cially by those who would have the Chief Jus­tice im­peached or re­signed. The op­tics says all. On the one hand, the CJ look­ing dig­ni­fied and quite beau­ti­ful, calmly pro­pound­ing her side of the ques­tion. And at the op­po­site end, her en­e­mies, look­ing quite, well… What am I sup­posed to say be­sides, ugly? Look again, and care­fully.

Like in­tel­li­gence, aes­thet­ics is a pre­dic­tive hu­man abil­ity. The dark hall­way, the pretty lions in a grassy field, are omens of likely dan­ger. And we should read it that way in this in­stance. Sereno’s en­e­mies are right to pres­sure her to re­sign if only to de­flect from this pos­si­ble night­mare: Re­call the tele­vi­sion cov­er­age of the pre­vi­ous Chief Jus­tice Corona’s im­peach­ment and be­fore that, Erap. Now imag­ine Sereno in their place, in front of daily cov­er­age through tele­vi­sion cam­eras. Her, look­ing quite dig­ni­fied and beau­ti­ful, pro­pound­ing le­gal ar­gu­ments as only she can pro­pound. And across from her, her en­e­mies. What pos­si­ble ar­gu­ments could they put for­ward that could over­turn the op­tics? Or cover up the ob­vi­ous ug­li­ness?

Such drama as could present it­self for daily te­len­ov­ela. Such drama as peo­ple would fol­low daily at great cost to the en­nui of their lives’ daily grind. Such drama could bring out in vivid light the most beau­ti­ful and ugly things about us and our lead­ers. Such drama would give us a big uni­fy­ing nar­ra­tive to talk about be­tween each other. Such drama as could bring down a gov­ern­ment...

Kinu­til kinu­til2013@gmail.com

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