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Aesthetics

Winter Break Aesthetics – Emily

I’m not sure why, but I often think of snow. I think that my parents think that I’m crazy because they

always dream of escaping the cold and traveling to hot exotic places during Christmas break but not me. I

long for that perfect moment when the snow falls and covers the world in a white powdery blanket. Before the snow trucks turn it black and watery and before it ultimately begins to rain again. This year we were lucky to get a little bit of snow on the final day of school, and as I walked to someone’s house after school, I traveled through the cold, blizzardy weather impassable by the four wheeled vehicles and the snow destroyers. In that moment, surrounded by the forces of nature you truly feel insignificant. And not in a cliche “you realize that the universe is really big” way. You just realize that you can’t do anything to change it. No one can (unless you count global warming which is a topic for another time). As you stare into the sky as little wet white fluffy things fall from the sky in millions, you begin to think about the world and how those snowflakes could have traveled it in whatever form they occupied. About the perfection of that little moment, and you learn to savor it as you know that it’ll only be there for a few moments before it disappears.

As i walked, I stopped for a moment until i was told to hurry up. Everyone was getting cold. The funny thing was that I wasn’t cold. I wasn’t really anything other than

awed. Now I’m not sure what it is that makes me love the snow and the cold. Maybe its the fact that this “perfect” moment only occurs once every few years. Maybe it’s the pureness of the snow. It’s truth and simplicity. Or maybe it’s neither and I’m just trying to be different than my parents. Either way, it’s vividness seems to stay with me for a long time. Sometimes until the next snowfall.

Aesthetic is described in the dictionary as

1aes·thet·ic

adjective \es-ˈthe-tik, is-, British usually ēs-\\-ti-kəl\

: of or relating to art or beauty

But it’s something deeper than that it’s an individual process that occurs and that depends entirely on your own taste. There are however three features which all aesthetic experience have in common which people can use to test their own aesthetic experience and use to compare their aesthetic experience with others. These are; focus, intensity and unity (where unity is a matter of coherence and completeness). Focus where  your attention is solely fixed on your experience and Coherence which is having elements that are properly connected to one another so that you have a “complete” experience. So essentially, if you experience these three (or four, depending on if you count unity as two separate things) features, you have experienced an aesthetic experience. Now I was then wondering, what’s the point. When, evolutionarily speaking, has it been beneficial for us to, lets say, stare up into the night sky and look at the stars in awe. Wouldn’t that moment of vulnerability and separation get us killed. As it turns out, aesthetic experiences are a way of communicating with others and gaining new insights about the world. This way you have new information to share and to pass on to others.

So maybe an aesthetic experience means something different to everybody because in the end, although they all share the three characteristics. Aesthetic experiences say a lot about a person’s personality and interests. As everyone is different, everyone’s aesthetic experience will be different. Even if two people stare into the night sky at the same time, in the same place. What they experience will be incredibly different as the two have different knowledge and memories but maybe, they will be able to share their collective knowledge together through their perception of beauty and wonder.

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