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Herald Tribune asahi
Japanese People Do Not Know Japan
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Beauty is Energy

I have written about two important categories through which we understand beauty in the first to the fourth articles in this fifth of a series of essays. The two categories are artificial beauty and naturally occurring beauty and I have explained the difference of origin of the two types of beauty. These thoughts are based on my theory that beauty is a kind of energy itself, not a mere concept.
 
@Take Japanese maki-e lacquerware as an example. Maki-e is made of wood, Japanese lacquer, gold powder and shells. However, with only such simple materials, maki-e gives expression to a gorgeous and dazzling universe of black and gold. Simple materials are embodied into the art work of maki-e through a creator's energy. This is not limited to Japanese art, but is the same in Western painting. Why is it that oil colors on a canvas move people so much? It is because the painter's energy is physically materialized on the canvas and we feel and appreciate the energy through the painting.
 
Human Works and Acts of God

As I wrote in the previous article, naturally occurring beauty, which is one type of beauty, can be seen in rustic ceramics for daily use. These ceramics are not produced for beauty, but natural power such as fire and curling up of ashes in a kiln by accident creates something that human power can never create deliberately. Such energy is not only seen in ceramics but also in a scribbled line of ink or exposed natural objects. I dare say that their beauty is created by a kind of divine prank.
 
Of course, as commodities they will be eventually thrown away unless someone finds beauty in them. Similarly, avant-garde performance painting requires a third-party evaluation and is also naturally occurring beauty in a sense. Energy underlies both artificial beauty and naturally occurring beauty and even if something is artificially created for the purpose of beauty, it could become either a commodity or an art work depending on the amount of energy infused in it.
Energy of God

The difference of the amount of energy in artificial beauty stems from the difference of creator's skills and training for creation of beauty, and the goal of artificial beauty is also in a sense an act of God, like naturally occurring beauty. People often say maestros and artists are possessed by some supernatural power and that means they have skills and abilities to create astonishing works beyond mere human power. The works possessing such creator's energy are definitely different from other works.
 
That's why I have recognized beauty as energy in this fifth series regardless of whether talking about artificial beauty or naturally occurring beauty, because the difference of the two types of beauty is that the former has energy through a person and the latter has energy directly from God. Both are also under the sway of another form of energy, time, and will change with the passage of time. The moment when the God energy is the most beautiful depends on the individual work, and especially we should understand that naturally occurring beauty is a short-lived glow that soon begins to wither over time.
 
From existence to value

I hope readers to understand that there are two types of beauty depending on the way that works get their energy: one is works created by a person inspired by God's energy and another is works naturally created by accident, as if a prank or whim of God, and evaluated by a third party in a later age, as I have written in the previous articles in this fifth series.
 
Next I would like to expound my view that there are four additional kinds of beauty depending on a person's values. The four kinds of values indicated are: value as pure art, value as fine art, academic value, and value for collectors. I aspire to share my detailed views of the four kinds of values with the sixth series of articles starting in January 2009.
 
Please send your comment or opinion to hadv@asahi.com
 


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