What's up at Ravens March.

Vintage pens-Handmade books-Silly statements

Eye of the Beholder

Posted by Dirck on 6 June, 2012

Beauty is a deeply subjective thing, is it not?  One person’s “attractive” is another person’s “meh” and a third party’s “Dear God, what is that thing?”  And yet, there are some things that are so broadly appealing that we might almost allow for a notion of universal, objective beauty.  For example…


…the girl herself may not be what sets your particular world alight, but the painting is a pretty good effort.

I’m a little concerned about beauty in modern homes.  Certainly, there’s any amount of Vermeer posters or reproduced statuary available, but the things we use in our daily lives seem to be getting rather too Bauhaus.  Actually, that’s unfair, as Bauhaus is at least a conscious effort at something, and what appears to be drifting away from modern life is the conscious artistic touch.  What got me thinking down this path was a little artifact in my mother-in-law’s basement.  Standing beside some modern sewing machines is something just slightly less ornate than this:

There’s a lot of unproductive baroquerie on that thing, isn’t there?  Once again, subjective, but even someone who decries the style will have to admit it’s more interesting than  a modern sewing machine.  Why’d they bother?  I assume because someone at the time said to themself, “This thing takes up a quantity of real estate in someone’s house; let’s try to make it visually pleasing.”

Compare the major appliances of today with those of the past; refrigerators used to have curves, stoves threatened to take wing, televisions… well, I have to admit I’ve always had a bit of a problem with the cabinet television, but the purely rectangular objects of today, even when filled with an interesting programme, are a little deadly.  I have a sneaking suspicion that the rise of steampunk aesthetics is a backlash against this trend to undecorative devices.

I won’t, by the way, entirely exclude pens from this rant.  There are some pretty bland fountain pens to be had today, but since the point of the modern fountain pen is at least in part to be a form of jewellry, there’s a little more art being thrown at them than other consumer devices get.  Watch this video, and imagine how unlikely a silicone skin would be for an iPhone with similar treatment….

Today’s subtly decorative pen: Parker VP
Today’s slightly pedestrian ink: Quink Washable Blue

Post Scriptus, and non sequitur– I find I’m mentioned on a blog whose authors I am envying deeply, as they’re planning a big trip across the UK.  I can’t help but be charmed by the fact that the mention of my little effort is juxtaposed with Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who honoring the writer of Jekyll.  Zowie, there’s some illustrious company!

3 Responses to “Eye of the Beholder”

  1. […] Ravensmarch mentioned our blog! And  he said he envies us! (I think Ravenmarch is a he. ) Ravensmarch, are you a he? … other posts by […]

  2. Triple Whammy…I read this particularly enjoyable post on a topic I think about a lot (aesthetic appreciation of everyday objects is enjoying a significant resurgence, I think in part due to Macintosh computers), I then hit the last paragraph and saw you mentioned our blog On-Words (our VERY FIRST link pointing to us!)….and then in an extremely roundabout fashion….discovered that you’re Canadian, to boot!

    Thank you for the multi-level delight, Ravensmarch. Your style is delicious, and I’m looking forward to reading more.

    Glad FPN went dark! (That’s how I found you).

    Jasmine (in Halifax)

    • Haligonians! You’re practically in England already, then!

      I am in danger puffing up with pride to the point of not being able to work a keyboard through the effect of the word “delicious” in that comment. I’ll say a brief and inadequate “Thank you” and then go lie down as consider my own short-comings as a form of metaphorical antihistamine.

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