I’ve been reading up on Aesthetics from a Uni course posted online by Oxford University – “Aesthetics and Art”. I’m working my way through the semesters, but got caught in Emmanuel Kant’s ideas about the experiencing of beauty. He thought it was the pleasure created in the mind before the mind assigned concepts to the experience. That really resonated with me. He also thought that experiencing the Sublime was similar. It gives us pleasure to be “In the Now”, having a “Direct” experience of something that evokes intense pleasure which we cannot name.
It reminded me of my close encounters with wildlife when we lock eyes, smell each other, experience the magic and are frozen in a state of wonder. It is those moments when the mind is open to simply experience, before the cognitive functions kick in and the concepts of “wallaby”, “joey”, “fear” etc are not yet formed. Then in an instant they are gone, rustling into the undergrowth and I am left feeling high on pleasure.
The pleasure is partly because the animal is a warm blooded creature with cognitive functions I can recognise. I can see it jump, lick its lips, blink, scratch itself and … it can see me, hear me. What a thrill to be noticed.
So I am curious … how can art and beautiful things compare to the living, breathing creature I encounter? Is the engagement anywhere near the same?
I’d like to explore this further.