Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Aesthetics and the Arts (3/3)
The Beautiful, the Stimulating, and the Sublime
For Schopenhauer, everyone has the ability to experience the aesthetics of the world. But what is aesthetic experience and how can one truly achieve this state of mind? Well according to Schopenhauer, this experience is bound within the individual’s “will,” which is the inner essence in us that connects us all to the universe and to each other. Bound within your will is your striving self, this is ones inner form that drives you to carry out actions for one’s self to satisfy wants and pleasures. So for one to truly experience the aesthetic world, one must distance his or herself from the will into a “will-less” perception. To do this you must detach from your striving self and look objects for their essence instead of how you would connect it to your striving self. According to Schopenhauer and others like Kant, they felt that the general will of humans contains suffering since it strives off of our wants and desires. So in this sense, aesthetic will-lessness is seen as an escape from pain into a world of wonders.
Beauty- When the mind reaches a tranquil state and crosses into the will-less with little transitional help, then this means one has experienced beauty. This is seen mostly when we look at flowers or even of the faces of people we love. For Schopenhauer beauty is something that comes to us without thought.
Stimulating- Certain aspects can be distracting to the viewer and take away from the true aesthetic experience, he referred to these as “contemplation-resistant objects.” These aspects come in two main forms:
Positively stimulating-Things that are positive stimulators would be a nicely roasted turkey or even a glass of water because these things can stir the appetite and, in turn, block out the real or intended emotions being felt. This is almost directly related to ones striving self. He also applied this to nudes or things that today we would consider “pornographic” in nature and should not be used in art.
Negatively stimulating- The negative aspect applies to things that repulse people, what Schopenhauer referred to as the disgusting. Things like urine and feces that would ultimately cause people to feel disgust or horror should not be used in art for the same reasons as positive aspects, these objects put emotions and feelings in us that relate to outside forces and should not be used in any work of art. ( musicians that rely on sex
Sublime- The most interesting aspect in my opinion of Schopenhauer’s theory of art is his explanation of the sublime. This is the intense feeling of hostility to one’s life or any feeling that would leave the viewer trapped in an overpowering sense of insignificance within the universe. Unlike the stimulating, which leaves the viewer without any aesthetic appreciation of the art, these feelings of hostility and fear could cross over and when this happens, the feeling is that of the sublime. When dealing with the sublime, one must take into consideration two accounts: one that is dynamical sublime which deals with the physical aspects mostly associated with dramas and tragedies. The second is the mathematical sublime which deals with psychological aspects seen most in nature as the starry night sky. To take account for how we could possibly feel any joy or pleasure from seeing such tragedy, Schopenhauer states that we must acknowledge the sheer vastness or fear that the object represents and then “consciously turn away” from these emotions. This is how we experience the dramatics, by putting ourselves within the story to know that fear and feeling of hopelessness that the cast is portraying but then also simultaneously comprehending that you are where you are, viewing this play from afar and are in no real danger.