George A. Magalios
We are vehicles of thinking. We are vehicles that receive and vehicles that transmit. As such we are creatures of communication and process.
A vehicle is a vessel that houses a thing. It is also an object in motion that moves.
Human beings are vessels of thinking and bodies in motion.
In the time of the Corona Virus, we are forced to be vessels in stasis. This stasis forces us out of nature’s way and into ourselves. This entry presents us with time for thinking, time for the reconstitution of our place in this world and on this Earth.
The nature of thinking is accepting and creating in measures both unequal and unknowable. When thinking is oriented around beauty it becomes an aesthetic experience. When thinking is devoted to beautiful things and living beautifully it becomes devoted to the path of knowledge, truth and wisdom.
That the very mention of “truth” and “beauty” is rejected, even willfully blacked out by the keepers of the academy and the practitioners of what is called “contemporary art” tells us the position of aesthetics has receded from our view in the 21st century. This blacking out reflects the retreat of beauty behind the shadows of history as the agents of letters and the guardians of artistic production seek to find ratification of the individual drive, a drive devoted primarily to maintain capital’s sway over the production of things. In this drive the myth of reason prevails at the expense of wisdom and experience.
But beauty, and its offspring, truth, persist in the lives and in the experiences of those unconcerned with the safeguarding of a careerist path along the fields and the cities of technological liberalism and its academic servants. Beauty occupies a space in the human experience, in our consciousness as vital and omnipresent as the flow of blood in our marital unions and the caress of a baby’s bellowing hand.
The acceptance of beauty in our lives involves a choreography of motion and a corresponding stepping of the mind, the choreography of contemplation devoted to pleasure and joy. Letting beauty speak to us and contemplating its arrival is called “aesthetics.”
It is not necessary for the human being to be trained in the history and schools of philosophy, religion or other texts in order to create an authentic aesthetic experience.
Each person will experience knowledge, truth and wisdom in her or his own unique way.
The mother who wraps silverware in napkins and then ties them with ribbon in a bow in preparation for a dinner party has created an aesthetic experience and given her guests a gift of love. The father working sixteen-hour days and sacrificing his leisure and his physical endurance to provide a home, food and an education for his wife and children is a an aesthete of the highest order. For him, the phenomenon of beauty is created out of physical labor, another gift of love. The son who lovingly helps his ageing mother to the bathroom, cleans her and changes takes part in an aesthetic experience of the everyday called care, yet another act of love.
Experience is feeling.
Aesthetic living is the life that lives within the multidimensional ways we feel and experience.
The uniqueness of the human aesthetic experience and the vernacular of place, language, and relationships define the parameters of each person’s relationship to beauty. This is a uniqueness governed by the universality of the pursuit of thinking and the bestowing of love, with their commensurate emotional and psychological permutations.
The heart of the mystery of the aesthetic experience is the understanding of this universality and its cultural and temporal variants. For many the pursuit of thinking is called “piety.” Piety may be religious in nature, governed by the faith in God, or it may be a devotion to knowledge and beauty not concerned with a higher being though this devotion is in itself an embrace of humility. This sacred nature of thinking is no less concerned with the sacrosanct than religious devotion. If we remove thinking from faith then our devotion the aesthetic understanding of living is no less pious.
Whether secular, religious or scientific in nature the devotion to beauty through thinking and acceptance is a pious activity. Piety is most easily pursued in isolation. More precisely, if we choose to view the pandemic known as the Corona Virus as an act of nature and not God (though for some there is no distinction) then we may explore the experience of social isolation with the language and history of aesthetic interpretation.
Nature has come to remind us of the importance of a pious life.
The experience of isolation is a bestowal of stasis and as such, a pause in the cycle of movement of humanity.