Where beauty is worshipped for beauty's sake as a goddess, independent of and superior to morality and philosophy, the most horrible putrefaction is apt to set in. The lives of the aesthetes are the far from edifying commentary on the religion of beauty.
I am still trying to think this through.
Thought: Beauty is inextricably tied to morality and philosophy. If we consider this as an assumption then the next sentence just serves the same idea by saying that the lives of those sentient to beauty are far from instructive on the religion of beauty. The crux of this, I am not sure what to call it - argument, statement lies obviously in the idea put forth initially that (if simplistically put) beauty without brains does not last and withers away. If beauty is worshipped for beauty's sake, i.e., worshipped just as an art form without being embellished with philosophy and morality then its akin to a cat's meow but without a cat. I am still having trouble crossing the chasm on this bridge of 'morality and philosophy'. I definitely see that beauty by itself just as a pure art form cannot and will not last for all to see and revel for a long time. It has to be associated with an 'edifying commentary'. I am having a little trouble associating beauty with morality.
I am still going to mull this over.
Any thoughts? Anybody?
Let me draw a simple analogy to religion and add in the same breath that I am not religious.
When the Gods are worshipped for worshipping sake, most probably because one has always been told to worship God (whatever the reason, it falls outside the scope of the argument that I am trying to present), people (at least people like me) start to question the givens in this religion. With unanswered questions comes doubt. With doubt comes decay in the once strong belief system. With decay and an absence of an equally strong second set of beliefs, putrefaction sets in. It is the same in the case of beauty - it is not lasting, it is not captivating enough when seen and appreciated just for what it is in the present frame of reference. For eg., when you watch a beautiful sunset at a beach, your eyes might pop out at the sight of it. When you try and describe it to your friend and try to tell him/her about the wondrous riot of colors, the streaks of motley hues of red in the sky, gold shimmering on the waves - what do you think happens? They might excited for the first time. What about the second time? and the third? How long do you think they are going to share, in their mind's eye, this wonderful image of a sunset at the beach?
Back to the religion analogy, the aesthetes in this case are high priests involved in worship. Do their lives, in any manner, serve as an edifying commentary on religion? In my opinion, not at all. So what is it what keeps me interested in religion, continue to foster my belief in God? Theology? Maybe. Why? because it is the philosophy of religion. It rationalizes, tries to explain and answer your queries. It puts religion and its underlying foundation of a system of beliefs in a different perspective. The change in perspective is what makes it self-sustainable and not the aesthetes themselves. Would you remain interested in God and religion and recite the same prayers over and over because the priests (aesthetes) do? or would you be interested in religion if you were to read vedic texts, upanishads?
Back to the sunset at the beach example, if you distill the essence of nature's beauty into lets say, a poem (or an essay) wouldn't that be more self-contained and sustainable than all your explanations? - the functional being a change in the frame of reference, "philosophizing" beauty. Or would the fact that you are sentient to nature's beauty generate continued, sustained interest on the part of your friends.
I rest my case.