Awaken the I of Beauty
I can still recall the emotional overload I felt when I laid eyes on the first gold and stainless Gucci chronograph watch. The undulating Italian lines of the band were prominently matched against a sleek, sophisticated expression of stopwatch dials and firm masculine design of the face. It made me feel something profound, simultaneously a deep yearning and affirmation that yes, this was what life can be like. It presented me with a tangible vision of beauty drawing me inexorably forth into a world where I could stretch to see more, feel more, live more, experience more. It was absolutely beautiful. And I had to have it. I was twelve years old.
Yet that glimpse of beauty held me tight, recurring again and again – the heart-stopping lines of the 1961 Jaguar XKE, the genius of the statue of David at the Accademia in Florence, the grandeur of Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay on a crisp winter morning, the tenderness of Lakme’s Flower Duet, the ecstasy of a dozen unfolding layers of a 1989 Domaine Leroy “Les Beaux Monts” as it unfolds on the tongue. And when I first laid eyes on the woman who would become my wife, words just simply fail. Every experience a new world opened unto me. Each immersing me in the majesty of the mystery, drawing me ever forward, pulling me harder as I moved into adulthood, stretching, stretching, ever stretching…
After many years beauty has become a daily perception, art a daily creation.
My closet is carefully organized so that every garment can be seen, a reminder that each morning I am given the opportunity to create, to express a view that this is how the world should be. Not for everyone, not for many, but for me. This is what is attractive to me, and this is what is attractive about me. The masculine impulse to view, and the feminine impulse to show, integrated in the simple act of getting dressed. When I dress, I can be an artist. When I cook, I can be an artist. When I write, I can be an artist. When I design, I can be an artist. The ancient act of artistic representation bringing my inside world of tastes, values and dreams to life as a tangible expression in the world I share with others. My life is my artwork, and the richness of my experience, the depth of my gratitude, the multi-hued textures unfolding on the palette of my spirit just keep getting richer and deeper and more ecstatic.
I believe that this is what happens as we awaken the eye of beauty. That this is what art does to us. This is what aesthetics reveals to us. As Roger Scruton notes, “beauty makes a claim on us: it is a call to renounce our narcissism and look with reverence on the world.” Reverence, indeed.
Are you in touch with your I of beauty?
The team at Integral Life is committed to bringing aesthetics to the forefront of the deep lifestyle experience (oh yes, the website is on the list). Look around you: you’re immersed in a world of almost overwhelming aesthetic richness, from food to film, music to art, drama to design, architecture to websites, each giving special access to a new world. And as art becomes ubiquitous how can we not become numb to the overload, where every next expression has to become louder, more shocking, more ironic to shake us into even noticing? What if we could refine our own aesthetic sensitivity to the point that we let go of our “addiction to effect,” the provocative surfaces that satisfy our pleasure-needs by avoiding our reason, values and discernment? What if we started to distinguish deeply between kitsch and quality, where our aesthetic intelligence expands and matures in all of the media-specific ways it is called to engage in a life of deepening beauty?
Let us make a stand: A maturing capacity for aesthetic engagement is a necessity for living a balanced, Integral Life.
This new project aims to help us cultivate and refine our aesthetic capacities. We begin with art, where every month we publish an art gallery from a well-known or up-and-coming artist. This month’s inaugural gallery presents painter Bryce Widom’s 1000 Views of God, presented nearby. We’re also thrilled to welcome Dr. Michael Schwartz as Integral Life’s new Aesthetics Editor. Michael is a Professor of Philosophy of Art in the Department of Fine Arts at Augusta State University, where he teaches, lectures, and publishes in the areas of art history, integral aesthetics, education theory, and Continental philosophy. We hope that these experiences will serve you well, presented in a way to expand your sense of integral semiotics (interpreting the artifacts themselves) and integral pragmatics (analyzing the impact of the artifact on the people around it).
So ask yourself: when’s the last time you got swept away by the beauty around you?
It’s there, right now. It can change your life. Look around you. The design of a bookcase. The hue of your shoes, the artwork on your wall, the print and texture of your shirt. Listen, is there music playing? All of this beauty, all of this art, is opening new worlds to your senses, and your ability to perceive and appreciate beauty more deeply is intrinsic to your ability to just inhale more life in every moment. And in every breath, inhaling to fullness, exhaling to freedom, staying still with what is, giving birth to what’s next, each moment the ultimate creative act. And you, the artist, and your life, the artwork.
Thank you for making my world more beautiful with your attention and intention.
Warm loving regards,
P.S. We’re pleased to announce that at Integral Spiritual Experience we will be offering a contemplative art gallery designed to enhance the aesthetic richness of your experience. If you are not yet registered to attend, please join us – we just opened up our final 50 spots!
Call For Submissions: If you would like your own art to be considered for a future Integral Life Art Gallery, please submit samples of your work as well as a brief description of how the Integral vision has informed your process to Angie at: art (at) integrallife (dot) com