Originally Posted by Bounder
Thinking something is more or less beautiful after you discover it is "authentic" is the antithesis of taste.
An excessive focus on "authenticity" is no more tasteful than an excessive focus on cost. It is both boorish and vulgar.
This could not be more ridiculous and wrongheaded.
There seems to exist the common belief that "taste" and "style" are a matter of impulse rather than refinement. However, it seems patently clear that the finest things in life require a person to develop his knowledge and understanding to appreciate them. That's why "good" taste and "refined" taste are synonymous (we don't mean it as an insult when we say someone's taste is "refined," do we?). How can something be refined if it is fully-developed at its inception?
This should be even more obvious when we consider what it takes to create
material things that are tasteful. They don't happen by accident and are not born from untrained, impulsive action. Craftsmen and artists spend years (lifetimes, even) refining their abilities and sensibilities to create their best work. They spend a great deal of that time trying to uncover the authentic and true. Why on earth do you imagine it should be so different for the mere observer or consumer?
I can think of reasons why. The chief one is that it is much easier on one's psychology and ego to pretend his taste cannot be tested, challenged, or improved. Yet, every individual I've seen on this forum who subscribes to that belief has terrible taste and cannot dress themselves, nonetheless pick out a rug.
Authenticity matters because some of the reason certain things exist is only due to their grounding in social, cultural tradition. Once divorced from that tradition, many such things have little good reason to exist at all, and it would be far more courageous (read: tasteful) to simply abandon them altogether.
To be blunt: if knowledge, experience, understanding, education, etc., do not compel your taste to evolve, you probably don't have any. It's also why stupid people always have little taste.
As for "excessive focus" on cost being vulgar . . . well, let's just that in my experience that sort of criticism is most common amongst those most fearful of looking like they cannot afford things. You know the type: those who feel they are, deep-down, entrenched in one class, yet who are desperate be associated with a higher one. It's a repugnant insecurity, really. However rich or poor you are.
Originally Posted by Bounder
Authenticity may be intertwined with function for these things in their original context, but you are using them in a completely different context. In this new context, "authenticity" will often either be irrelevant or even potentially offensive. Take, for example, the symbols on a Beni Ourain carpet. The symbols may mean something but if you neither understand them nor appreciate them you risk using -- and abusing -- them completely out of context. Obviously, the Beni Ourain don't mind, at least not too much. They know perfectly well that people are buying them up to use as carpets in apartments.
But using things, especially religious symbols, that you do not understand or fully appreciate, is pretty fraught. I trust you will not be installing a Buddha -- especially one looted from a temple -- in your foyer to use as a hat rack.
So, then, the question for you is whether it is your level of refinement or your intellect that poses the greater limitation?
I have no interest in co-opting religious symbols for inappropriate, decorative use. That is a fundamental reason for trying to understand these rugs better. Yet, you cannnot smell out the contradiction in your own analysis, can you? The purpose of learning about a thing's authenticity is to learn about its original function. If I found out that my rug was supposed to be a sacred funeral shroud of some sort, I would not want it to be my rug.Edited by mafoofan - 8/20/13 at 8:15am