Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Laboratory of Aesthetics

The Laboratory of Aesthetics

For some people its massive city bridges,
Woody Allen movies, strawberry-decalled
tea-pots, German WWII paraphanelia.
Others thrill at a Brillo box in a museum,
Gerhard Richter’s overpainted photos,
or Radiohead’s Kid A. There is always
that one guy willing to explain French
New Wave. How Breathless is the best
movie ever made, and not because of
the cool sunglasses, when really it is
the cigarettes and the cool sunglasses.
I have to admit France never looked
so good. Take an object, paint it silver,
blow it up about two hundred times its
normal size, set it up in a public square,
and I guarantee people will take selfies
around it. The laboratory of aesthetics
these days is really about mischief and
surprise. For instance, I was writing
another poem about Buddha and panic
attacks, but aesthetics dictate I throw
myself off the deep end. So now there
is a Californian subdivision engulfed
in wildfires, and the State is all out of
water. A riddle without a satisfactory
ending. I don’t get it? You are going to
fit right in, says Buddha, whom I tried
to keep out of the discussion. Let’s just
say aesthetics is irony taking the piss out
of everything, which is why you should
rummage through culture’s junk drawer
and pick your favorites from the mess.
You may not understand why you love
the things you do like Jack Gilbert’s poems,
scarab beetle collections, wood turned boxes,
the 1974 Ford XB Falcon, a Diane Arbus
retrospective, her mesmerizing photograph
of a boy with a toy grenade, his face squeezed
into a grimace, but they understand you.

By Chris Banks

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