Blog: Object Culture Part IX Words

Christine Alfery

Posted on February 25 2021

Blog: Object Culture Part IX  Words

Featured image: Happy Flowers

Art is just a word. The value placed on all words including the word “art” is either subjective or objective.

When we were young and learning words, their meaning was important.For example, when I was a young girl I frequently didn’t understand why my hand was slapped when I did something that seemed only natural to me. Like putting my whole fist into a birthday cake and not waiting for the birthday person to blow out the candles. Why couldn’t I put my whole fist into the cake? I could do that when I was one and had my first birthday cake and it was funny then. Single words help young children sort things out, figure out what is good and bad, and that everything that has four legs isn’t a dog. I personally learned quickly that getting things right was very, very important. Words and language defined things for me. I, also, had to learn how to categorize things, like the fact that not all four legged animals were dogs.

Words and language evaluated things as good and bad actions, also. The naming of things frequently was also linked to moral roots, and values within cultures. As children, the words “ no” and “yes” were teaching me what the appropriate behavior was for civilized life. Examples are comments like: a. Aren’t you ashamed of yourself? b. Good girls don’t do that. c. It is bad to even think that.

So with the cake example, as I got older I learned that how I felt no longer was a good way to determine good or bad things and right or wrong things. To this day I am still trying to figure that one out. And how I felt had to be linked to the moralities and values of the culture I was born in.

As an adult, I come to learn that words are heavily laden with value judgments and moral yes’s and no’s. As an adult, I found that the world with all of its rules was even more difficult to navigate than it was as a child, and that navigation frequently has to take detours. I have learned that words can define objects such as what is good toothpaste and what is not good toothpaste. But, words are subjective when it comes to defining an object. For example, many claim that salt is a good toothpaste while others say that baking soda is a good toothpaste. But when a word is loaded with moral and ethical values, I become concerned. It is not good to brush your teeth with baking soda, it is better to use ….. and name the brand of the toothpaste that is good.

The same goes for art, “this is good art” or “this is bad art.” Today if there is no socially correct link to an object that is being called art, then it is usually not considered good. Trends in art happen, and these trends rise and fall. They are called movements like Op Art, Pop Art, Abstract Art, Multi-cultural Art, etc. What ever happened to the words that define the aesthetics of art as well as it historial time and place and social grounding? We have lost those words, those independent, individualized human centric words, and in their place we have object centric words that define object centric art. We have, in my opinion, lost something very valuable when it comes to understanding good and bad art. We have lost those beautiful aesthetic words that link us to what we used to be able to do naturally as a child who would not worry about the weight of a loaded moral word.

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” 1 Corinthians 13:11

As a child it was important to learn right from wrong, to please your mother and father, to gain wisdom as we grow older but we lose that wonder sensation of the aesthetics, the beauty of the world. Sometimes we just need to lose the words that define an object. And just let the object and the sensations it brings be.

We need to reteach ourselves how to think like a child again so we can enjoy the real of things and how they are all linked together when we get rid of all the baggage a word carries. Then we can just enjoy a fire in the fireplace, or a sunrise, or sunset, or the sound of ocean waves, or birds singing and the list can go on and on.

These things, –the aesthetics of the real – mean we need to get rid of word baggage and just enjoy something and not speak or use words at all. Just breathe in – breathe out – take deep breaths and smell the winter air.

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