Happy New Year! 2018 will be a great year for Beauty and Craftsmanship at Gary Dawson Designs.
There’s never a bad time to reflect on what gives meaning to our lives but the new year seems to compel us in that direction. Serendipitously, as I was driving to my office the other day, starting my new year of design and custom work, I heard an NPR Ted Radio Hour that really set me afire with reflection and contemplation. “What is Beauty” was the title and while all of it was good, a particular segment caught my attention as being relevant to what I do.
The wisdom of Denis Dutton, now passed, is preserved in his TED talk entitled, A Darwinian Theory of Beauty, given in February of 2010. Dutton was educated at UCSB and went on to be a professor of philosophy at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. He was perhaps best known for his site Arts & Letters Daily, which he founded in 1998 which, in the words of Lev Grossman, secured him a place among “the most influential media personalities in the world”. (Time Magazine, June 13th 2004)
Beauty, Craftsmanship and “Fitness Signals”
I highly recommend listening to his entertaining presentation, but I’ll eschew here his verbatim transcript. In it he makes the point that humans are likely hard-wired to seek beauty. Specifically with relation to artistic beauty, he refers to what he calls “fitness signals” and relates that concept to craftsmanship as it developed in the evolution of the Acheulian hand axe. Fitness, in this case being the ability or fitness to breed. These artifacts go back about 2.5 million years and display what may be the first evidence of artistic beauty as created by a human. In that far too many of them have been found in some sites to account for only butchering game, some are too large to be used for butchering, and many show no evidence of ever having been used, it seems evident that at least some of them were created for their beauty alone. According to Dutton, “Their symmetry, their attractive materials and, above all, their meticulous workmanship are simply quite beautiful to our eyes, even today!”
He further states, “Competently made hand axes indicated desirable personal qualities — intelligence, fine motor control, planning ability, conscientiousness and sometimes access to rare materials. Over tens of thousands of generations, such skills increased the status of those who displayed them and gained a reproductive advantage over the less capable. You know, it’s an old line, but it has been shown to work — “Why don’t you come up to my cave, so I can show you my hand axes?””
So when you find yourself over-thinking why you want that nice piece of Gary Dawson Designs jewelry, just remember…it’s about survival! You want to signal fitness, right?
Contact us today to start your project! It will be executed with attractive materials and meticulous workmanship!