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Beautiful Books
 
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Beautiful Books
A Visionary Society Project
The purpose of Beautiful Books is to promote and celebrate beautiful art. We want to remind each other that culture can lift and inspire, inform and transform. Goodness, beauty and truth exist. Let’s join together to rediscover what this is. 
 

 
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Overview
The purpose of Beautiful Books is to promote and celebrate beautiful art. We want to remind each other that culture can lift and inspire, inform and transform. Goodness, beauty and truth exist. Let’s join together to rediscover what this is. 
 
 
Project Details
 
We are simply offering basic principles of meaningful art – not providing a list of works that we condemn or commend. That will always be subjective, and should be entirely up to individuals. Our goal is simply to provide a public forum for the shared attempt at discovering meaningful art. 

We seek only obvious, self-evident principles that anyone would agree to. We invite all to contribute any piece they think meets these principles. 

Beautiful Books is a counterpart to Banned Books. Instead of selecting works because they had been banned, Beautiful Books has readings, discussion and performances of works that are considered beautiful by members.

Beautiful Books supports works of art that express the deeper dimensions of our humanity. There is no limit to beauty, in the natural world, or even, potentially, in society. But beauty is adrift, under assault, in need of a friend. Let us be a friend to beauty. Freedom of the expression of ideas is always valid, but we also need to know what is especially worthy of being expressed.

By joining the steps below members can help plan and stage the very first Beautiful Books event. In addition they can use Visionary Society Challenges and Requests to encourage wider participation and awareness. Hopefully this will become an annual occurrence and grow to multiple locations. 

There should be a central location for the event, possibly at the public library. There could also be a gathering in the main city public square, and secondary events in cafes and theaters. In addition to public readings and performances, we present Challenges and Requests: a way for individuals and businesses to make significant choices to bring meaningful culture into the world.
Project Type & Period
Type: New idea, concept, or way of thinking.
Period: Annual.
 
 
 

 
Resources
Beautiful Books Principles

Guidelines for thinking about books, art, culture and their effect

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Resource in "Beautiful Books"
 
Beautiful Books Principles

Guidelines for thinking about books, art, culture and their effect


We are simply proposing objectives for building a more beautiful culture, as a way of helping anyone interested in finding a deeper meaning. These principles apply to anyone involved in art: the artist, producers, work of art and the individuals using it. They are under development, and subject to improvement by the community over time.


Beautiful Books might:

Explore deeply felt emotions and thoughts
Use imagination, explores new possibilities and honors mystery. Empathize with those who are different or oppressed.

Be more than entertainment
Stimulation, pleasure, and escapism are enjoyable in themselves but can lead one to go deeper. Entertainment can inspire people to lead a more meaningful life.

Be more than art for art's sake
Artistry, aestheticism, virtuosity, cleverness, etc. contribute to the value of a work of art in achieving a goal beyond itself.

Explore inner as well as outer beauty
Meaning is more important than appearance. Looks underneath appearances to find the truth within.

Suggest responses to flawed or broken circumstances
Find a resolution to dysfunctional behavior. Do not stimulate anger or cruelty as an end in itself. Explore the ugly and dysfunctional, with the intent of finding a resolution to it.

Take the context of the piece into account
This includes the life of the artist, the price and the way profits are used.

Lift and inspire, inform and transform
Have some sense of alternative, better reality.

Make the world more humane
Make you feel recognized. Addresses what is best in you. Do not reinforce stereotypes or inflame your ego. Explor long-term and deeper effects. Heals, rather than divides.


 
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“Artists play a distinctive role in challenging authoritarianism. Art creates pathways for subversion, for political understanding and solidarity among coalition builders... Artists who occupy marginalized social positions can use their art to challenge structures of power."
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Resource in "Beautiful Books"
 
“Artists play a distinctive role in challenging authoritarianism. Art creates pathways for subversion, for political understanding and solidarity among coalition builders... Artists who occupy marginalized social positions can use their art to challenge structures of power."

Why Authoritarians Attack the Arts
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/06/opinion/why-authoritarians-attack-the-arts.html
By Eve L. Ewing, April 6, 2017, NYT

As Hitler understood, artists play a distinctive role in challenging authoritarianism. Art creates pathways for subversion, for political understanding and solidarity among coalition builders. Art teaches us that lives other than our own have value. Like the proverbial court jester who can openly mock the king in his own court, artists who occupy marginalized social positions can use their art to challenge structures of power in ways that would otherwise be dangerous or impossible.

It’s about control. It’s about creating a society where propaganda reigns and dissent is silenced.

We need the arts because they make us full human beings. But we also need the arts as a protective factor against authoritarianism. In saving the arts, we save ourselves from a society where creative production is permissible only insofar as it serves the instruments of power.

 
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Beautiful Books poster under development
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Resource in "Beautiful Books"
 
Beautiful Books poster under development



 
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Beautiful Books Goals
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Beautiful Books Goals

Stand up for the idea that beauty, good and truth still exists, and begin to understand what that is

Develop the ability to discriminate between destructive, meaningful and beautiful art, without being prejudiced

Demonstrate that it is possible to stand up for principles without being self-righteous or divisive

Fight destructive, superficial, and nihilistic culture

Find something good, true or beautiful
Show how this is broken and how it can be aspired to or achieved.
This is the last, hardest and most important Beautiful Books goal!


 
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"Here are enshrined the longing of great hearts
And noble things that tower above the tide
The magic word that winged wonder starts
The garnered wisdom that has never died"

Brooklyn Public Library
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Resource in "Beautiful Books"
 
"Here are enshrined the longing of great hearts
And noble things that tower above the tide
The magic word that winged wonder starts
The garnered wisdom that has never died"

Brooklyn Public Library

It almost went without saying, not long ago, that popular culture should involve goodness, beauty, and other virtues. Here is proof of that: inscriptions on major public facilities.

New York Public Library
“A good Booke is the pretious life-blood of a master spirit, imbalm’d and treasur’d up on purpose to a life beyond life.” Sign over the entrance to the New York Public Library reading room.

Portland Public Library steps
"Begin, Experience, Seek, Hope, Explore, Dream, Inquire, Imagine, Discover, Create, Transcend, Become."

The Nobel prize
“To the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work of an idealist tendency.”
Alfred Nobel’s will established in 1896 a prize for literary achievement.

 
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Initial thoughts on how to create a framework for supporting beautiful art and culture
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Resource in "Beautiful Books"
 
Initial thoughts on how to create a framework for supporting beautiful art and culture

The main value of art lies beyond itself. Art for its own sake, unaware of its effects, is potentially dangerous. It is quite possible that works of art can injure or shatter a person’s spirit. That is why we need a framework for making sense of art and culture, for judging art and holding accountable artists and those who support art for the ramifications of what they are doing.
How do you know the power of a work of art? We can establish guidelines, but everyone has to do the work themselves. You must try to sense the effect, what it does to you and how it makes you feel. Does it inflame your ego? Does it magnify what is fleeting? Does it make you compare yourself to something inane? Or does it recognize the part of you that you admire?
It's not easy, but it's necessary. There are great dangers along this bath (bigotry, ideology, etc). It's not a framework but a journey, in which we agree to aspire to, to look for, focusing and elaborating, implications and [the good]. But our hope is to actually create a culture of care – by standing up for the good, true, beautiful, and sacred, and making artistic creativity of this kind a part of daily life.

High level
Explores conundrums, mysteries.
Expresses these transcendent qualities: beauty, truth, good, love, and the sacred.
Nourishes these personal qualities: Purity, depth, inwardness, awareness, holiness, integrity, honesty, faith, compassion, commitment, care, autonomy.
Effect: Recognizes your whole self, and calls you to your higher nature.
(They also oppose superficiality, degradation, and manipulation.)

Mediocre level
Works as entertainment. Delight, gratitude, tell a story, support, console
Superficial
Vulgar
Magnification of the profane, superficial, and material. Life is entertainment, and art is distraction from what is transcendent and eternal. Ignorant, one-sided, and ideological.
Personal qualities: Greed, narcissism, self-interest, hard-heartedness, isolation, and sanctimony.
Effect: Diminishes the ability to perceive realities outside of oneself. Insensitivity.

Low level
Degenerate
Appeals to these realities: the ugly, the false, hatred, and evil.
Magnifies these personal qualities: bigotry, destructiveness, and sadism.
Effect: Destruction of the capacity to see what is good: Degradation and nihilism.
‘Superstition, witch hunts, torture, and a multitude of other forms of cruelty or traditional folly.’ Schweitzer

 
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“Watching a bad TV program, we the TV program. We are what we feel and perceive. If we are angry, we are the anger. If we are in love, we are love. If we look at a snow-covered mountain peak, we are the mountain...
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Resource in "Beautiful Books"
 
“Watching a bad TV program, we the TV program. We are what we feel and perceive. If we are angry, we are the anger. If we are in love, we are love. If we look at a snow-covered mountain peak, we are the mountain...

"We can be anything we want, so why do we open our windows to bad TV programs made by sensationalist producers in search of easy money, programs that make our hearts pound, our fists tighten, and leave us exhausted. Who allows such TV programs to be made and seen by even the very young? We do! We are too undemanding, too ready to watch whatever is on the screen, too lonely, lazy, or bored to create our own lives. We turn on the TV and leave it on, allowing someone else to guide us, shape us, and destroy us. Losing ourselves in this way is leaving our fate in the hands of others who may not be acting responsibly. We must be aware of which programs do harm to our nervous system, minds, and hearts, and which programs benefit us.”
“Of course, I am not talking only about television. All around us, how many lures are set by our fellow and ourselves?....
“We must be very careful to protect our fate and our peace….With the sun of awareness shining in us, we can avoid most dangers….” Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step


 
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“We gauge culture by the extent to which a whole people, not only individuals, live in accordance with the dictates of an eternal doctrine or strive for spiritual integrity; the extent to which inwardness, compassion, justice and holiness are to be found in the daily life of the masses....
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Resource in "Beautiful Books"
 
“We gauge culture by the extent to which a whole people, not only individuals, live in accordance with the dictates of an eternal doctrine or strive for spiritual integrity; the extent to which inwardness, compassion, justice and holiness are to be found in the daily life of the masses....

...“Peace with all our needs would mean surrender to the ego. It is easy to convert the soul into a madhouse and think it is a sanctuary. The spirit that gasps for a breath of the divine, to be stronger than the ruthlessness of passions, must be equipped with weapons that the mind alone cannot produce.” Abraham Heschel, Man Is not Alone

“We challenge our prevailing cultural emphasis on material self-interest by encouraging a spirit of caring and a process of mutual recognition that will nourish inclusive, sustainable, and just communities.” The Foundation for Ethics and Meaning

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.” Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves To Death



 
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Visionary Society
on August 01, 2018
 
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