To paraphrase from Fujimura’s book Culture Care–Beauty is that which is a delight to the senses, a pleasure to the mind, and refreshment to the spirit. It invites our scrutiny and contemplation and then rewards it. Beauty is connected to satisfaction and we should not be content with only cheap alternatives (the cute or the pretty) that ultimately leave us unsatisfied.
Although beauty is satisfying, it can also, in one of the may paradoxes of life, leave us with a deep ache for more. If we do not have a worldview that allows for beauty that ache can be confusing or troubling. If we do have a worldview that understands what beauty points towards that ache can be a pleasant longing for the ultimate reality only hinted at in this life.
Culture Care by Makoto Fujimura
I recently received a copy of Makoto Fujimura’s new book Culture Care. It has been enormously encouraging as an alternative portrait of the artist’s role in our hyper-industrialized and pragmatic culture. He describes art as a gift rather than a commodity to be hawked and hoarded. One of his ideas has had a particular resonance with my own experience. He describes artists as border-stalkers, those who live in the margins of society and who possess a gift for imagination and empathy. This gift allows them to move between “tribes” and build bridges, reminding different groups of their shared humanity. Despite the rapid increase in communication technologies we are fragmenting into increasingly narrow groups of politics, religion, and interests. Art is a doorway into the eyes of another and offers a glimpse of a different world. Unless we are exposed to something other than our Facebook news feed and dramatic headlines we will continue to grow inward, surrounding ourselves with others that have our same fears, weaknesses, and blind spots. Art is what opens up the world and artists are the traveling pilgrims bringing glimpses of the “world that ought to be” from tribe to tribe.