To someone who often mistook “aesthetics” for “anaesthetic,” the aesthetic experience stood foreign for a very long time. After a brief introduction, I have currently concluded its criteria for a quality experience as:
a) Vivid – an absolute, potent sensation which leaves you hapless or euphoric
b) Distance – contrary to traditional conventions, one should feel incredibly far or close to the sensation
c) Tension – as discussed in class, illuminates the direct tension between finite and infinite, god and mortal
One should strive for quality aesthetic experience, whether it dwells on the negative: anguish and devastation or the positive: resilience and ecstasy. An aesthetic experience of worth requires a perceptive conclusion or better yet question to our infinite and finite selves. It increases the boundaries either ends of the spectrum, creating more room to play.
My aesthetic experience was rather dismal than a sunrise or ethereal moonlight glimmer. My experience belongs to an ER, the sullen sort at Eagle Ridge hospital without George Clooney. From my memory, or televised depictions, they’re lively places with pregnant women ready to burst, being denied registration without proper paper work by a sassy ethnic nurse. They’re places where men without limbs are wheeled spewing blood, doctors screaming “CLEAR” or “We’ve got to get this man a new brain. Luckily my evil twin brother from Chile who slept with my lover, Tatiana Gold, just fell down the elevator shaft by utter serendipitous accident. They’re a match!” They’re suppose to be full of distractions, screaming lovers, and new born babies, and crime scenes. No. Emergency rooms are not like that.
They’re complete opposite. If you walked into an ER, you’d question whether you’re in a medical facility, barren of medical professionals. Surely you can hear about Dr. Banner’s golf game or trip to Honolulu, but not your diagnosis. I know that his daughter Melissa and Carol are doing well in school. What I don’t know is whether I have appendicitis, although by this time I sure wish I did. *Note: to my knowledge, Dr. Banner doesn’t exist. He is fictional, as well as his recreation, vacations, and daughters and their academic success.
As a self diagnosed hypochondriac, I can definitely say things got out of hand somewhat. After four vials of blood, two throat swabs, and a chest x-ray, I was sitting among four or five patients receiving IV fluids. I was rather helpless, one could say. As two years prior I was diagnosed with neutrapenia with suspicion by a multitude of doctors of everything from leukemia to aggressive mono to even AIDS. After being viciously ‘housed’ and rising white blood cell count and a UFM (Unidentified Floating Mass) near my spleen I had been released from the hospital. In this ER, waiting for my results, my imagination ran into hyper-drive.
In a place that’s suppose to cultivate wellness and hope and help, I was sure feeling impotent. In that moment, my tests mean everything. On one hand I am a god, cheating death. This is just my superior body’s way of defending against a super-virus attempting striving for my ends. On the other hand, it’s back. The mysterious recovery, that UFM, a new disease. Across the way from my plastic vinyl recliner, there’s a clock that ticks. It ticks til my defeat or success. There is a computer with files and results, filing in to finish my anatomic puzzle. The night sweats and fever beat on through my skin, gluing my arms and nape to the seat. Mucus treads down my throat, seeping from my sinuses. I am infinite and finite, altogether. I am a superhuman and mere mortal. In that moment there is a strange tension, binding me through obliviousness and helplessness. I wish I had appendicitis. I wish someone would just come up and tell me anything, something. I wish I had tonsillitis. I wish they’d cut something out of me, make this pain, this wait, go away. Something simple. Put me under and take it away.
Really this was just an aggressive viral infection that took a rather long time. Four hours. I should start getting flu shots. Although, a hypochondriac nightmare, this experience as all aesthetic experiences illuminate a lot about general human experiences and myself. I find aesthetic experiences highlight limits of how far we are willing to go, to get them or something else. Aesthetic experiences attempt to extend our mortal existence. We become infinite. We are more than just one human being. Simple. We are everywhere; we become everyone, and it never ends. This impossible nature explains much of our personal limitations and ends, our aspirations and failures.