October 21, 2009

the psychology of beauty

"it's not very hard to tell you're back in vienna"
from the album fall europe tour 09

train from graz, austria to baden, switzerland

when i was in cuba my pack was ripped out of the window of a moving train at approximately 3:30 in the morning; in europe i leave my ipod, sennheiser headphones, mobile, and camera out in the open as i go four cars up the train for a bottle of mineral water. my laptop stays not-so-securely hidden underneath my rucksack.

in vienna i contemplated beauty and it’s role in civil development, namely through the eyes of its citizens. what kind of effect does it have on a person to see palacial buildings slathered with gold-gilt statues, or indeed real palaces, on his way to work? how does that affect the mind? what’s the difference between such sights and seeing dilapidated structures, wolfing down smoke from ancient automobiles, seeing the city you live in crumble day by day?
it would seem that there is something inherently uplifting to the vienna-type environments around the world, encouraging refinement and sophistication, perhaps a sense of the order of things: that a city should be clean, that it’s trains should run on time and be fully-functional, that it should have beautiful architecture and museums that speak to it’s history. but what about those who live in urban decay? what happens to their minds?
if order is the way of things, then why not so for cubans and the other darker-skinned people of the world? and how is it that one society establishes order while another languishes? or is order purchased? or perhaps wrested? and does not the absence of beauty perpetuate a people’s dis-ease?

as it stands humankind lives an equation that can never be balanced. when walking the streets of vienna, this is where beauty takes my mind.

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