Beauty is often associated with something that can be seen, an image that is not only pleasing to the eyes, but something that triggers the other four senses as well. Most aesthetic experiences can be described as a beautiful, out of the ordinary landscape or piece of art that no photograph or word can accurately describe unless it is experienced live, in that moment. Although this experience can be quite powerful and moving in the eye of the beholder, I believe that the most powerful aesthetic moment somebody could experience can not be seen, but rather heard. When you're standing on a beautiful green meadow, no matter how illuminating and breath taking it is, you are limited to that beautiful green meadow. Listening to an illuminating and breathtaking piece of music, however, allows your imagination take you wherever it wants you to go. You are no longer limited to the beautiful green meadow.
To me, the aesthetic experience is one that stimulates imagination and senses to their fullest potential. When I am lost in a piece of instrumental music, I can feel the music on and around my body. I visualize myself on a journey to any place that corresponds with my emotions, and I can see, smell and taste my (imaginary) surroundings. Each sense that is provoked during my aesthetic experience becomes an aesthetic experience in itself. Gustav Holst's Fantasia on The Dargason takes me to a grassy hillside where a cheerful leprechaun takes me by the hand and we skip merrily down the hill, defeating all that comes in our way. I can smell the fresh grass and feel the warm sun rays hitting my skin as we are lead to a giant rainbow and a pot of gold.
The fundamental element of of aesthetic experiences is that they are unlimited. There are no "rules" that dictate what people can and can not be fascinated with. The aesthetic journey that Fantasia on the Dargason takes me on will not be similar to the one it will take somebody else on. The same thing that provokes my imagination and senses may not have any effect whatsoever on somebody else. Similarly, one person can sit and think about something that fascinates them, not paying attention to their senses, and that is as much of an aesthetic experience as somebody that has their senses completely engaged and stimulated.
In my opinion, no matter how hard we try, aesthetic experiences can not be defined. We try to better understand them by creating a list of guidelines of what is and is not an aesthetic experience, but the truth of the matter is that the aesthetic experience is something that remains inside the individual. The only guidelines is that there are no guidelines, and self-awareness is the only tool to help you discover what aesthetics means to you.
My life used to be filled with many interesting stories to tell and adventures that leave everyone breathless, but with age, I have not aged like a fine cheese, I have only gotten a little more stale.
Over the break me and a few of my friends decided to go to Gastown and other places downtown to change up the scenery rather than going to the mall or the parks around here. I always love doing this because I hate just staying in one place and nothing is more refreshing than going to explore some of Vancouver’s cultural attractions and see new sights. The skytrain ride was long and interesting as we usually tend to encounter really weird people either talking to themselves or trying to talk to us. Weird creepy men tipping their hats and smiling at a small group of timid teenaged girls and scary old women shaking and tweaking out on some sort of substance. Ah.. Vancouver. We arrived at Granville station after stopping by the Lonsdale Quay which wasn’t too intersting and headed towards Gastown. The brick sidewalks were busy and the tourist shops were so cliche Canadian with beavers dressed up as RCMP officers and maple leaves galore. We laughed at the tourists taking pictures of the steam clock, gawked at the cute little knick knacks that they have on display until we got escorted out of the stores for not buying anything and eventually got bored and continued on to do some window shopping on Granville street and stop for some hot chocolate
Seeing all of these tourists and tourist attractions around Vancouver really got me thinking about this experience and how it meant a little more to me than just another trip downtown. Inbetween all of the action, one of my old friends from elementary school messaged me on Facebook and asked what I was up to. She moved to Fort McMurray at the beginning of grade 6 and we recently started talking again which is always really lovely. Casually I told her I was wandering downtown as if it was no good and she exploded. She started going off about how much she misses going downtown and how it was so beautiful there and how much she wishes back in Vancouver rather than a hick town in Alberta. That kind of struck a chord in me. I always thought of Vancouver as a boring town with nothing to do or nothing to see and just all in all a really dull place covered in trees. Then I realized that there really are people who travel a long way to see the sights that we see on a daily basis and save up for years to come see this beautiful city, rich in cultures and nature. There are people who would actually die to be in the place that we all live in and don’t appreciate enough because we decide to go to other places that seem more esthetically appealing to us like California or New York. The big commercialized city seems more appealing to us because we are so used to the stupid trees and mountains and in most people’s opinions, times square is a little more interesting than going on a nature walk. On a really quick side note, over spring break I went to Anaheim on a band trip to Disney Land and as we were driving on a highway I look out the window to enjoy some scenery, expecting some mountains or a river atleast something natural, and all I saw was a smoggy skyline of skyscrapers and you could feel the pollution just by looking at it. At that moment, my dreams of moving to California were all evicerated and made me realize that I belong in the forest and with the trees rather than the skyscrapers and rushing people. I feel as if the beauty that we have in our own backyard is very underappreciated and I along with many others should learn to step back and really appreciate that we have natural, real beauty rather than man made beauty.