Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sacrificing beauty: a beautiful sacrifice I

Skateboard manufacturers and skaters are conscientious about the appeal of the graphics on their skateboards. Almost every skateboard has a unique and colourful artistic design on its underside.

Some of the graphics are truly works of art. Indeed, I've heard several skaters say that they feel like hanging their freshly bought boards on their walls rather than damage them through skating. I too have felt the shame of destroying an object of such beauty and craftsmanship. And let me tell you, for most serious skaters, the artwork is pretty much trashed after a mere few skate sessions.

The irony is that skate companies continue to manufacture skateboards with graphics, and skaters continue to prefer impressive graphics, despite the incredibly short lifespan.

Surely there must be some depth to this phenomenon?

(My answer to this question stems from my own introspection and needn't be generalized to the experiences and sentiments of other skaters - though I believe it will resonate with some of them.)

There are various ways of connecting to things. In general, the deeper the connection the more desirable it is. For example, when one produces something, the product is deeply entwined with his own existence. Hence a parent feels a stronger affinity to her own children than to those born to other parents. Additionally, one experiences a quality more fully when he enters into it with his whole self. Compare the experience of learning about law to sitting in on a court case.
          Thus concerning one's connection to beauty we may ask: Is one a recipient or producer of the beauty? Does the beauty enter the individual, or does the individual enter the beauty? In the skaters world, the beauty of board graphics is received by the skater; whereas the beauty of performing a manoeuvre is produced by him. Additionally, the beauty of board artwork enters the skater in his seeing and appreciating it, whereas the beauty of a well performed trick is entered into by the skater with the totality of his being.

A Skater thus sacrifices a connection to received beauty for a connection to produced beauty; he forgoes a bond with beauty which enters him for a bond with beauty which he enters. He sacrifices a lower form in his striving for a higher form. This process is stressed in his buying a skateboard with beautiful graphics only to have them effaced through the performance of tricks...