Recently, in my work I have been investigating the notion of aesthetics as a vehicle for discussions around difficult topics or discussions with opposing truths which can be hard to negotiate with one another. I have come to understand that people will absolutely reject ideas that are too far from their personal truths often labeling these other perspectives as lies. Spectacle and beauty have the ability to draw audiences in and coerce audiences to partake in conversations which may oppose personal beliefs. The ability to have conversation before rejection is necessary if one wants to convince others of their personal truths especially if their truth is far too different from their audiences’ personal truths.
Mark Taylor discusses how cultural as well as personal beliefs are constantly interacting, responding, and changing to the ideas and views of those within our communities and those new to our communities. He describes the formation of knowledge as a collaboration of creation and destruction. We break down old ideas reassembling them with the old to come to new ones.
There were a two things which stood out to me about his assessment of knowledge and those within society with this knowledge. On pg.202 he writes that ‘Those who are too rigid to fit into a rapidly changing world become obsolete or are driven beyond the edge of chaos to destruction’. On pg. 214 he writes that ‘As interpretive schemata change to adapt to each other, they eventually reach the tipping point where new comprehensive patterns suddenly emerge. Such patterns survive only a long as they fit experience.’ I found there to be interesting conflict in these two statements. Taylor suggests that those in a society must continue to change and evolve with the ideas of that society or risk having to leave or be forced out of the community. On the other side of that, he suggests that ideas which are too far from the experiences or truths of society will also become obsolete and be pushed aside. To me it sounds like there is a fine balance between knowledge, society, new ideas, and the individual perspective. In order for change to happen, we must find a balance and a common ground from which we can share perspectives and grow together. I wonder where Taylor would place the idea of aesthetics as a vehicle for communicating new ideas within this conversation of knowing.
For growth and change, no idea can be too radical, and no idea should be too conservative. We want to push society forward at a good pace, but we don’t want there to be fear or rejection because we are moving at a pace that is uncomfortable or alarming. With technology today, however, the rate at which are changing is exponential to our momentum yesterday. Day by day we may be reaching a more universal truth and I wonder if progress will slow and eventually plateau once we get there?