Today, I was teaching excerpts from an essay by Tanizaki, whose influences included certain Western writers: Baudelaire, Poe, Wilde... We are to remember the flâneur, the beginnings of seeking aesthetics in that which is dark, the decadence that is the morbid, the macabre. As I was talking about such things, I began to think of how so many taboos began to fly from their Pandora's box in the early 20th century. There are some things the eyes should not see; why should one be a flâneur of everything. Isn't there something to be said of privacy?
Tanizaki's essay has a touch of the perverse: at one point, he glorifies grime. While it would do no good to oversimplify that passage, I would still like to consider, in this context, why one would go so far as to seek beauty in the (literally) darker things. He writes: The quality that we call beauty, however, must always grow from the realities of life, and our ancestors, forced to live in dark rooms, presently came to discover beauty in shadows, ultimately to guide shadows towards beauty's ends.
If we are to look at the darker things, then requires a great depth of insight to inform the object of its beauty. How much of the world around us is, after all, shaped by our projections? How many social movements or trends are nothing more than shared projections, not really the essence of what is being perceived?
I do not think that many people have the insight to find beauty in ugly places - hence why we call such an activity "perverse". The reason I point this out is because of my next question: if most people can't see such beauty (which Tanizaki seems to imply this would take centuries, anyway), then why are people looking at it?
How does one feel if one looks at ugliness? Posing this question risks criticism from progressive modernists, who say that aesthetics are relative. And that brings us back to Baudelaire - or Goethe, who wrote in his Italian travel diary that being in that other world had caused him to lose subjectivity, but gain some new kind of meaning.
Still, I choose to argue in favour of bringing order to the world through an aesthetics that seeks responsible answers to questions like: Does this inspire me to love - myself, others, and the fact that we are alive?
I think that a lot of the dark aesthetic does not promote such ideas, but promotes fear and its derivatives, like insecurity or elitism. Aesthetics, to my mind, are ethics.
Speaking of aesthetics, or a lack thereof, below is a primitive pic, in which I used paintbrush functions for the first time. Perhaps it shows that no matter how much one thinks one knows, there are many miles between theory and practice.

Elements: Oh Hello Friend, brushes from here.