Visual Philosophy

(Month of August, Series 2020)

Mere Beauty In Truth

Mere Beauty In Truth (click link for Instagram) is my theory of the Aesthetic. Influenced by the late Sir Roger Scruton I aim to use art, nature, architecture, and other mediums to witness a higher form, reality and truth about life through perception. 

Beauty requires us to recognize the ugly, the profane, and the false through a keen sense of what is true beauty i.e. that which strikes a profoundness inside us all putting us at its mercy. We do so by training our heart on the full range of emotions experienced in our lives. Fear, anger, happiness, and anxiety all mean something deeper within us. A friend once explained that to recognize a forgery one must study the real thing in complete and absolute detail. Mere Beauty In Truth is the study of the real thing we call beauty.

My ultimate hope it to show the Transcendence and the Immense of God through beauty and design, the ugly and the broken, so as to help us grasp truth and ultimate reality to the best of our limited ability. 

Aesthetic value is not merely art. Art is simply one principled medium of interpretation. We would not necessarily call a person or nature art but each can serve as an expression through a medium. Aesthetics targets the full range of expression through taste, smell, sound, sight, and intuition. 

Please enjoy.

L’Apparition by Gustave Moreau  

Overview:  Classic biblical story of Salome demanding the head of John the Baptist from King Herod after her mother, Herodias, out of her own fear of John enraged her daughter.

Beginning with Salome (Top Half)

At First Glance: Looking first at Salome’s upper body one notices quickly she is clothed in jewels which are an expression of her vanity, but she is partially nude before her own mother and step-father; a signal of her youthful delirium and all of their sickness, the madness that binds them. Salome stares out in a trance at the apparition of John the Baptist head floating in midair, reaching for the severed head, as if slowly as seen with the distant reach of her left arm as her right hand slightly grasps the jeweled neckless, almost afraid of what has occurred but more so lusting over the severed head. Salome is naked yes, but emotionally covered in dread and hatred as her facial expression layers her body language saying, “I distain you,” “I fear you.” Ultimately Salome has become intoxicated by her own passions that were fed by her own mother to kill a man of God. 

Key Point: Salome represents human frailty when ruled by passion and the gullibility of the youthful. 

King Herod Antipas & his wife Herodias:

At First Glance:  Herodias is the real mastermind. Hands folded, expressionless but clearly tense by the moment. Herodias wanted John the Baptist dead, it was Herodias who feared the holy man, and it was Herodias that whispered deceit into her daughters ear. Fully clothed almost as though seeking to disguise herself from him. With her head veil it can be said that Herodias took the place of Mary, an anti-Mary figure similar to an anti-christ in a worldly attempt to coverer the sins that lay bare on her daughter.  

Key Point: Herodias is the power behind the curtain, deception itself, yet inwardly a coward. She represents our desire for power which arises from our weakness. 

At First Glance: Herod Antipas, decrepit and frail, a ghostly figure ruled by nothing godly, just fleshly desire to appease and be pleased. He is adorn in robe and riches upon a throne but life seeps out of him. Herod has become nothing but a tomb, a sepulcher whose hour draws near. Beyond salvation, nothing will raise him from the dead due to his own binding guilt and falsity. 

Key Point: Herod’s state of mind and body represents the decay of the human soul when away from God and truth. 

The Guard

At First Glance: Stoic with his broad sword pointed down; face covered with eyes that lack coloration; the deed has been completed. Blood covers the serving plate at his feet. This solider though has committed a grave crime against an innocent man whom God loved. It is possible that his eyes represent blindness, he is as they all are, blinded by their desires including the soldier who wished only to do what he was told rather than consider the reality of the situation that he murdered an innocent man. 

Key Point: The guard represents the harmful cost of willful ignorance. 

Returning to Salome

At this point it is important to recognize the direction of Salome’s foot. She is not yet moving toward but around the severed head. Circling like a shark. Her long robe touching the ground as she dances and no one is watching her as everyone in the room looks away into their own guarded trance except Herodias. Herodias though coy, cannot look away at the head of John the Baptist. Her fascial expression appears sad yet that cannot hide the blood on her hands, the guilty verdict over her head. Salome and Herodias fates are eternally intwined.

The Lutanist

At First Glance: Probably the only person in the room whom is a victim of circumstance; a servant girl now a woman playing for the king and his court. She holds distain over their decadence, perhaps giving the viewer a degree of credence to their own views about the events taking place. 

Key Point: Represents the credence table of a eucharist i.e. a testimony of bare reality before us all. 

John the Baptist

At First Glance: Even in death God shows his pleasure over the man who was the final prophet before Christ the Savior took position to reveal himself as the Messiah. Rising above with halos circling around him, Salome and Herodias have his head but they can never have his soul which belongs to God. Brutal yet victorious. 

Key Point: John represents the good and faithful servant. 

Published by

E. Kyle Richey

A Christian, a Philosopher, and a Writer.

2 thoughts on “Visual Philosophy”

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