Part II. The Problem with Ikea
Clearly people do care about the aesthetics of their homes. They consider feng shui, interior decorating magazines etc. For this reason it would seem that my claim in Part I that people consider the "visual" to be superficial and unimportant, or that beauty is often kept out of the home, is overstated or simply inaccurate.
|Black Square, Malevich, 1915|
Take for instance the art of the famous Russian painter Kazimir Malevich, most famously, his "Black Square" of 1915. In the exhibit that featured this painting, Malevich placed it in the corner of the room, the traditional location of the familial icon. The importance of this location was certainly recognized by Malevich. He said, "The image is the final path, the image is something that bares the exit, by means of the image the further path is interrupted, everything which has paths converges toward the image, all paths lead to the image particularly if it is holy, hence I see the justification and true significance of the Orthodox corner in which the image stands, the holy image as opposed to all other images and representations of sinners... The corner symbolizes that there is no other path to perfection except for the path into the corner." Yet what image replaced the Theotokos? A painting that was intentionally and absolutely revolutionary. Malevich expresses the meaning behind this new anti-icon: "The contours of the objective world fade more and more and so it goes, step by step, until the world 'everything we loved and by which we have lived' becomes lost to sight. But this desert is filled with the spirit of nonobjective sensation which pervades everything. But a blissful sense of liberating nonobjectivity drew me forth into the desert where nothing is real except feeling...and so feeling became the substance of my life." So then, what is left? The void is present, must be present for the new god, that is ourselves and our own subjectivity, within which there is no room for content. "I search for God, I search within myself for myself. God is all-seeing, all-knowing, all powerful a future perfection of intuition as the oeumenical world of supra-reason. I search for God, I search for my face, I have already drawn its outline and I strive to incarnate myself," says Malevich.
|Hm, thats funny...a Malevich influence?|
|The true black square was the TV screen all along!|
We spend so much time worrying about grand-scale social and political issues as Catholics. But is it possible that we are blind to something that is to the peripheral, that is less evident than any of these issues? Maybe it is peripheral because it is unimportant, but perhaps we should consider the possibility that it is not a thematic object of our concern because it acts as the unspoken substructure of the world in which we live. What if the truth was that, after a long day of working in the world, fighting the good fight, reciting apologetics around the water dispenser, we were coming home to a space with an underlying structure that belonged to the enemy?
|Wait! That looks like my living room!|
Or maybe it is just decoration, and who cares? After all, it doesn't really matter, it's just a matter of taste. If you think it looks good, who am I to say it is dangerous? I must be some kind of radical to think that any of this actually matters.
If this is your attitude, then I suppose I would refer you to Part 1. To my mind, this way of thinking is nearly identical to the belief that it does not matter whether or not we have beautiful churches. We must be more attentive to the domestic church. It too is a house of God.