Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Art, Form, and Expression

Art in the free world is a personal, as well as a cultural "expression". One's view of life and value is represented by these forms of expression, whether these expressions are in the printed press about politics, or whether these expressions are "artistic" ways of expressing other "forms" of "life". The West values the freedom of expression and so, we do not confine or undermine free expression. But, there are other countries that do.

Just this morning while going throught the massive piles of last week's newpapers, I read where China is now limiting Facebook and Twitter. There is much regulation is such countries because of their need to control the population's information that might undermine "elite power".

Such is also the case in Islamic countries where women are covered from head to toe. The free expression of "fashion" is not to be desired, affirmed, valued or allowed. "Allah" is a "black and white" God. Color, whether literal or metaphorical, is not appreciated in such cultures.

Even though conservative Islamic woman have no choice in their public image, I found many Islamic women going throught the history of fashion exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum in London. I wondered why they were interested. Was art and its value a human universal, even when it is suppressed? The "universal" categories of "black and white" were more in line with "conservatism", than a particular religious tradition.

As I was looking and pondering over these thoughts, I came across two English women, who were viewing the case before them. One made a rather disintergrating and distainful remark about the "American designer sweatsuit" in the case. As she and her friend were obviously interested in "designer clothes", there was no value judgment made against expensive items. So, I wondered why the value judgment was made against this particular item of clothing.

The statement seemed to be dismissing as extravagant an expensive sweatsuit, while making allowance for much more expensive items of clothing. Was this value judgment based on a "traditional" understanding of aristocratic dressing, for an occassion? The value of aristocracy and its "image" is important to European identity, while Americans are practical and value using thier money where it is most useful, which is an individually determined definition. Sweatsuits are probably worn more than an evening gown, for instance. So, some Americans might find value in spending their money on an expensive sweatsuit, than an expensive gown.

America is known for individualism, informality, practicality, pragmatism, and liberty. I wonder if other countries look at our "success" as innovators, and our economic liberties as something that is envied and resented. America has represented many things to many people, because of our freedoms. Our freedoms are unique in this world. And I think rulers in other countries envy our "power" over the "ideals" of thier people.

I think being equal under law in a representative government is the best "ideal" there is in this world. Americans should value, defend and maintain this "form" rather than bickering about other "forms" of expression and being in this world.

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