Aes·thet·ics: branch of philosophy that explores the nature and creation of art, beauty, and taste.
Epistemologically, it is the study of subjective and sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste. Broadly, scholars in the field define aesthetics as “critical reflection on art, culture and nature”.
The word aesthetic is derived from the Greek αἰσθητικός (aisthetikos: “esthetic, sensitive, sentient, pertaining to sense perception”), which in turn was derived from αἰσθάνομαι (aisthanomai: “I perceive, feel, sense”).
Oh, how hard the young man was seeking to be understood.
Clarity, but not at the expense of nuance.
The Writer should match a freedom of thought with an obedience to the law of his grammar.
The Philosopher and His Body
Let us return then to our cardinal subject: the Body as physical soil of Mind, and Mind the foundation of Spirit, and Spirit man’s collection of will, specifically, his “will to become”, that which finds its ultimate expression again in the body.
From the most fertile soil springs the most profound thought; and from thought, insight; and insight, awareness – primarily of one’s own evolving destiny, that which some call “meaning” or (god forbid) “purpose”.
Without dispute, every great man the world has ever known was marked by the belief his life was possessed of certain destiny, and that no external force could endanger its fulfillment save for his own incapacity to carry it out. However these men came to their various epiphanies, one can be sure that it was always maintained through a certain rigor of thought and severity of internal speech. For the ongoing awareness of and obedience to the prodding spear of Fate is no easy state of mind to sustain, especially if one’s self-appointed task is particularly lofty; loftiness perceived only in glimpses and rarely – and usually to much consternation. In his most vulnerable moments, even the mighty will attempt to relinquish himself of Fate’s weighty burdens by trivializing it and himself through the diminution of his own language and thought, a deleterious habit that, if practiced often enough, is impossible to recover: ending always with the moral embrace of the brute sensibility and good opinion of the rabble.
Resisting this temptation – especially in a polemical age such as our own – requires a man to exercise uncommon levels of emotional and linguistic discipline and self-overcoming, that which can be at least partially developed through the consistent practice of vigorous bodily movements that require strength, flexibility, endurance and encourage an exposure to nature’s elements: out of doors, in heat and cold, in low elevation and high, with as few cultural accoutrements as modesty permits; elements which cultivate a man’s soil with its most nutritious compost: discomfort.
For the penalty of physical immobility is rigidity: not only of joints and sinew but the physical brain and by it, thought, language and creative acumen. The less one moves his body through space, the less his mind is forced to adapt to that movement and of that space, the latter which, of course, is the physical stage of life.
As with all things, the most healthful practices are those which are “free” and accomplishable at any time and place without extraneous gear or equipment: with minimal barrier between a man and his environment; naturality which bequeaths a certain existential “insight” in and of itself, the kind that is gained via the quickening of man’s senses to ever-changing stimuli. Such communion with nature’s ebbs and flows, her textures and colors and odors enlarge – by way of encouraging a malleability (or mimicry) of the physical brain – a man’s capacity to feel and be at home in his own flesh: beyond morals, beyond culture; “beyondness” which civilization necessarily stifles in order to make the high-walled life of the city at all possible; civilization which, by way of its very sharpness of line and hardness of surface, its order and need for technical specialization separated man irrevocably from nature’s tumultuous contours and well-rounded generalocity, those which mirror most closely our own psychological shape and form. In erecting these architecture artifices in the physical environment in which he lived, man’s erected also psychological edifices, those which forced him to forsake the nakedness he formerly shared between himself and his own senses, effecting irrevocably his own ability to both absorb and perceive experience itself, and from it insight, and insight, knowledge: primarily of himself as a “body-becoming in the world”.
In light of its potential, it would nevertheless be ridiculous (and rather demeaning) to advise men of our time to live in a kind of perpetual nakedness before nature in the hope that he may attain a deeper awareness of himself. For in no way was the jungle canopy or tall-grassed savannah or icy tundra idyllic environments to dwell, nor did they provide hospitable habitats for the cultivation of any knowledge outside that which might help perpetuate the clan. But nor has the swing in the opposite direction necessarily benefited us either, especially with regards to our own experience of the paradoxical nature both within and without our emotional bodies.
Man learns through the sensual quickening provided by ontologic contrast, by emotional “dialectic” if you will: the movement of one state and mode of being to another, the first which can only be perceived for what it is in light of the other; the civilized life here and that over there beyond the walls the one that instructs it, the physical life beyond morals and artifice and comfort, beyond the understanding of the brain as “network”, “grid”, as binary code of dots and dashes – even as “brain”.
Still three minutes behind.
Socrates was hideous even to his own eyes: what does that say?
Devil walks into bar. Orders drink. Asks Philosopher sitting next to him: “And what do you do?”