12.18.18 - "What Is This Almighty Aesthetic?"

Dear Sweet Babe,

Today I want to talk to you about aesthetic.

It’s everywhere. It’s in your tv shows, walking around in people’s fashion, via people’s hair and make up choices, through what books people read, and the music they listen to, and how they decorate their homes and apartments. Aesthetic can dictate what groceries you buy and what kind of exercises you do, what friends you have, and even what job you pursue.

But, what is this almighty aesthetic?

Well, aesthetic is a set of traits that ties a piece of art to an artistic or cultural movement. Also, aesthetic is the compilation of what is considered beautiful. These movements of beauty could be ranging from modernism to cubism, from monochromaticism to gothic, from stoicism to romanticism (Ihighly looking into all of these movements, as they are all remarkably beautiful). It is through these understandings of aesthetic that aesthetic has become both so prevalent, and also so general in its presence. Owning a potted plant is as much a part of your aesthetic as deciding to wear only the color pink. Jogging every day is as much a part of an aesthetic as being a vegan. Because the definitions of “art” and “beauty” are so subjective (not to mention highly contested) people have found all sorts of ways to express their aesthetic.
Some people see art as anything that is made with the intention of being beautiful, and beauty as something that is lacking in imperfection. These people have aesthetics that celebrate romanticism or modernism, with a seeming rose-colored perspective on the world and/or a clean and organized way of ordering their lives. You see them walking around in Chanel and wearing gender appropriate clothing, working in positions that afford them a lavish lifestyle, with a multitude of possessions that all have a place, and that fit perfectly into that place.
Others see art a mode of expression, and beauty as a tempestuous balance of light and dark. These people have aesthetics that celebrate expressionism or surrealism, with an eclectic combination of seemingly disparate concepts tossed about their lives, almost willy-nilly. You see these people challenging social norms with what they wear and how they speak, working in various positions that all fuel their passions in various ways, to scrabble enough money together to take another trip to the thrift store, a book shop, or to the museum, all to gather more philosophies or artsy pieces to put into the collage that is their life and their nest of a home.
Others view art as an exploration of the unknown, and beauty as what is darkest and unseen in the world.
Others view art as entertainment, and beauty as what is rare.
Some people take a combination of these extremes. Some people rather enjoy the order of viewing beauty as lacking in perfection, but prefer expression to the pursuit of beauty. While some love the cultural structure that supports the pursuit of beauty, but understand that perfection is not the beauty that they seek. Some have even wilder definitions of art and beauty, leading them to amazingly complex and wildly inspirational aesthetics that you and I haven’t even thought of yet.

And this brings up an interesting question: do you get to decide on your aesthetic, or does it choose you?

Well, sweet babe, what do you think? Does what you like pick you, or do you pick it? When you walk around a clothing store do you pick all of the items in a collection that were designed in a similar fashion, or do you pick and choose from various designers, choosing what you feel looks the best on you? As you wander through the grocery store are you looking for what fits into your cultural upbringing and/or your latest diet, or are you choosing ingredients that you enjoy and are excited to mix together in various ways? Do you follow in your likes, or are you a trailblazer in determining what you’ll try next?

Don’t misunderstand me, there is no right answer, and there is no definitive one either. Our likes and interests grow with us, as do our sources of inspiration. The music I listen to, or the books I read today may become very tedious tomorrow. The friends I follow and imitate today may be my enemies tomorrow…and, even then, I may still find inspiration from them! Our likes in one part of our life can be greatly effected by every other aspect of our lives, yet may be wholly separate, and there is nothing wrong with either of those options. We are meant to explore our likes and dislikes, drawing inspiration from others and seeking the wisdom we hear from within.
Your aesthetic should grow with you. You should always take a look at what you enjoy and ask yourself how those things fit together, or if they fit together, or if you even want them to fit together. Take the time to be interested in your interests, because, lord knows, the rest of the world will take interest.
Our aesthetic will define us, in the same way our sexuality, our race, our philosophies, and our actions will. Some will take your aesthetic and use it as the only definition they have for you, while others will use your aesthetic as only a part of the complex human being that they understand you to be. Just as you must decide how much focus you yourself will put upon your aesthetic.

So, sweet babe, how do you see art, and what do you think beauty is, and how will it define you?


Erik SchneiderComment