Lawns implicate order and ideology, this is true. I remember the trip which I visited Cambridge, now not only a place of academia, but also a place of tourism—quite funny. One of the colleges I entered has two square lawns symmetrically distributed at the two sides of the central axis. No one, as I’ve observed, tramped on them. I thought this demonstrates a kind of ideology that has less thing to do with Marxism than with the postmodernism, when knowledge supports the power and decides who should take control of maintaining the order. Yet what I’m going to elaborate here is about my exciting feeling of reading Berleant’s <Living in the Landscape>—the chapter <Modes of Negativity>. Very excited indeed. I had to mention that International Congress of Aesthetics again, where he was another person I’ve encountered. Now I think I have enough confidence to even take a critical perspective towards such a reputable scholar.
I agree with him that the opposite side of beauty, in the word of ugly, doesn’t mean it has no aesthetic value at all. However, when he tries to expand his thought in terms of aesthetic disvalue—the true meaning where we want to discuss the opposite side of aesthetics, the logic seems to be not that clear. It is easy to categorize them into 7 types according to his elaboration: The offensive, the banal, the unfulfilled, the inappropriate, the trivializing, the deceptive, and the destructive. I’ve found it difficult to imagine what he asserts as to join the unfulfillment with others, and particularly with the banal, to make it more aesthetically disvalued. I believe on the contrary. For example, how can the unfulfilled connected with the banal? In my eyes, it’s always that the unfulfilled ignites the creation, and the imaginative thinking. Think about how we create the wheels and then other tool that have wheels? There is an invention line that the former one can always be regarded as not finished. But human beings continuously assembly them, change how they are organized and then make out more convenient tools. Isn’t this a way of stimulating creative imagination, through the unfulfilled one by one??
Also, I’m particularly sceptical about the destructive. I don’t know whether I’ve grasped his core meaning or not. I think he has equalized the destructive with the bad, and the aesthetic value with the good. But I would prefer that the destructive has nothing to do with the ethical judgment. I’ve spent about several months, trying to abstract the Chinese political system, the hierarchy and the structure into a medium prototype. Then I’ve made a conclusion from it that this system has an inherent stableness and is like an engineering works. It is built up in that way and might suddenly collapse in another way, with not ethical intention. Thus I assume the destructive character might have nothing to do with our aesthetical judgment at all, and the examples he has made leave me an impression of ethical purification.
Now relaxation: Some sketches about lawns in mini landscapes. They are lovely indeed. (Both colourful and black/white style)