Make Something Beautiful

    Anna Shvets

    There's this trendy little word "Maker" that we've been using for years now. It has a special ring to it, the way we describe artists as creators but not janitors as creators. There are "makerbots," "maker" work spaces, classes for those who want to be "makers." I applaud all of that.

    Before we glommed on to this word, we all made something forever. We made cupcakes, We made a sports car. We made love. Life is full of making.

    I grew up in a little family factory back in the days when America was full of hundreds of thousands of little family factories. We made things from steel and wood and plastic. We were manufacturers not makers.

    Every minimum wage worker on the floor (that would be me) was a maker. Every step of the manufacturing process was making something and there were thousands of steps, thousands of makings.

    With the death of the industrial age and the chimera of virtualization, the idea of making things was eclipsed by code which takes a lot of work to make but somehow seems too ephemeral to be a thing. Strange that, as it drives the whole engine of contemporary economy. Code is, of course, a thing - a product of mind. Not as tangible as stainless steel but fungible. And a lot of people make it.

    It's not actually much of a wonder that we make stuff. Nature makes stuff. We are nature so we do just what she does. The proto-science of Alchemie was philosophically based in the idea that nature was the teacher and that we could learn her ways and apply them for our own improvement. Today we call that technology. It's the same magic. We think stuff up, then we actualize it.

    Human civilization is one big making, teeming with the effervescent rise and fall of stuff becoming out of our human intention. Making is natural and all inclusive.

    The critical issue for you, creator, is whether what you are creating, what you are making at any given moment is beautiful. Is it? This is a challenging question to consider because with every breath you are changing the dimension of existence. Not just yours, you're changing mine.

    You don't want to get full of yourself on that idea because every other creative agent in the universe is doing the same thing at the same time, but within this vast interactive and self-inferring creation, are we making it beautiful?

    Whether we are putting it together or tearing it down, we are creating. They are the native twins of creation. Beauty is also a native to this game.

    We have a biased towards beauty. Beauty, even though it resides somewhere in the eyeball of the beholder is a magnet. Why? What is it?

    Gregory Bateson would argue its some form of aesthetic morphology, a way form is arranged. There's an endless sea of these aesthetics. Cast your eyes across the domain of sculpture for an educational tour of aesthetic morphology. All shapes, all configurations, all colors or lack there of. You'll like some. You'll pass on others. That's the effect of their aesthetic. Anywhere you look, or listen, smell taste or touch, there aesthetics of creation can be found.

    Whatever it is we behold within our eye, that we feel in our heart, beauty is transformative. We tend to want to focus on it, re-visit it as often as possible. There is something uplifting in it..

    It is never degrading. It cannot be disgusting. It does not repel us.

    Just the opposite. Beauty holds some fact of resonance that lifts us up. We feel better in its presence. It is inspiring.

    The arguments for why it does this have gone on non-stop, forever in art circles and philosophy classes. Yet, in the street, when we come face to face with beauty, we never need to analyze it. It is for us the presence of some excellence.

    Recently, I attended an exposition of French Artist Claude Monet. It was breath-taking, which  makes sense for a guy who has more artistic swag afloat in the market than any other artist in history. Rightly so.

    His eye, his ability to see the beauty of passing life was remarkable. I think it was because he was a cartoonist.

    Monet began his career as a caricaturist, one of those folks who makes cartoons of you on the street. It takes a quick eye, great sense of proportion, the ability to know the personality of someone and capture them in relatively few lines. Yet, behind this quick-draw economy lies insight and sensitivity and understanding that allows the rendered cartoon to completely capture the sense of you.

    Trained by some of the finest painters of his time, he mastered painting early and move on in the new explosion of impressionism, producing a voluminous body of work.

    I  tend not to use those little audio tours that accompany museum exhibitions. As a creator, I'm far more interested in the statement of the artist, what the artist was saying to me on the canvass. Its there in every brush stroke. The message of Claude Monet was powerful.

    I was most struck by how he could capture terribly commonplace scenes and turn them into beauty. Sometimes, ugly scenes, scenes that in the day, probably smelled bad or were stinky with mud and cold.

    Monet would take these episodes of common French life, episodes that had to have been difficult and unpleasant, and through his eye, through the heart that guided his movement, re-ground them into something exquisite. Monet saw the exquisite in the mud and snow, in the jungle of the water lillies. Now, we see it too.

    Van Gogh said he felt compelled to help people see the world that he saw. It would take generations for those people to arrive and comprehend his vision, yet now, his vibrant motion on canvas is impossibly attractive to us.

    The conditions of the world at this moment are the resource for our making. They may be very exciting or tediously commonplace.

    Whatever they are in your life, your art begins here in the middle of these conditions.

    Do you have the heart to re-craft them into beauty? Have you matured the skills that make can make them magnetic, attractive, transformative?

    We all create. We all create all of the time. Creation never stops, not in the world around us, not in our own presence. Creation is a teeming, fecund thing that is always becoming.

    That's you, creator. You are a teeming, fecund thing pouring creation into the world.

    What inspires you in that? Who is teaching you how to do that? Who have you asked to guide you, to help you become more adept at the act of creation in your chosen art?

    And are you practicing? Practicing whenever you can and working through the limitations of your life to render them beautiful?

    To advance that, look kindly on your world, whatever its conditions may be.

    Feel increasing empathy for how it goes together, how it interacts, how its elements fit together, how it is breaking down and  falling apart. Feel that.

    Whenever you experience the beautiful, capture it in your heart so that you can transform it with your own love into your finest expression.

    This makes waves of creation that pass throughout us all. Whenever we receive one and amplify it, passing it forward to another, beauty swells and hearts feel glad.

    Make waves, creator.

    That doesn't have to be big. You don't need to become a celebrity. The more spontaneously you can make it, the more gracious your dispensation, the more perfectly beautiful it can be.

    Mastering the beautiful begins in the intent to be that. Be beauty.

    Find brilliance within yourself. You may not be able to display it everywhere at all times, but you can become the living vessel of it. If you do, let that wave swell and resonate within you so that you stabilize a living presence of beauty you may deposit in the world, everywhere you go. Then go, well. Practice, creator, practice.

    You can be a maker of the beautiful, beautybot producing endless bits of beauty.  Make that so. Make it beautiful.


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