Thursday, September 16, 2010

Constructing (conceiving of?) beauty

Russ Roberts over at ECONTALK has an interesting discussion this week with Alain de Button about his books which focus on seeing the beauty of contemporary society, industry, and technology. Its worth a listen (see my links to the right.)

Koreans are much better at seeing beauty in modernity than are Westerners. I've often thought it was because modernity is such a newer phenomenon here. But de Button makes many good points about how in the West active forces, such as "high society" "literati" and or ideas such as "haute coutre" or the "art film" are instrumental in constructing objects that are deemed acceptable to be considered beautiful (sorry thats a mouthful).

Take this picture for example of the "snake road" on my island. I've always considered it to be quite ugly, but for Koreans it is a work of beauty. I see a scar that mars the natural beauty of the island, yet for Koreans it is an artful creation that confirms how, even on this far flung island, Korea is a developed and prosperous nation.