The Importance of Aesthetic Awareness

Lately, I've been thinking about this interview Li-Young Lee, particularly when he says:

"I think that there's nothing more you can do than to make art. To write poems. And I came to the conclusion that aesthetic awareness—or aesthetic consciousness or aesthetic presence—is the only possible ethical presence we have. And so I went from thinking that the practice of aesthetics was a complete waste of time to thinking that aesthetic awareness is the most complete form of awareness we have."

As happens when pursuing a creative endeavor, I have been thinking about the gravity of writing a book about joy. Why am I doing this? What value does it have for me? Am I wasting my time? Why is it important to follow my own creative bliss rather than what might be more trendy in some poetry circles? I have not arrived at any brilliant or unique answers to these questions.

However, I know what I am doing has value, at least for me. Writing poems about joy has been a good meditative exercise in celebrating the happy moments and circumstances in my life; it has drawn my eye in close on the things I love and the circumstances that make me feel good--music, my boyfriend, time with friends, etc.

I realize that pursuing this project does come with some risks, namely with getting work published. Two journals have been very kind and accepted poems from the book, which I want to celebrate. I am very grateful. Yet, I also know that happy projects generally harbor less respect because they are somehow seen as "light" and less valuable. 

Take for example the discography of a pop star like Alanis Morissette. If you look at the aggregate scores for her past four major albums on Metacritic, the two break-up albums, Under Rug Swept and Flavors of Entanglement, both have positive averages, but her two albums about falling in love, So-Called Chaos and Havoc and Bright Lights, have mixed scores, garnering 56 and 55 respectively. This occurrence is not unusual; happy music may be enjoyable, but dark work gets more respect. The same can easily be seen in poetry if you check out which books are winning prizes.

None of this really matters, though. Writing to be liked or published is a dangerous endeavor. If Lee is right--and I think he is--the important thing for art to do is cultivate a creative vision that authentically and ethically shapes the world around you. Not to mention, writing a project that reflects your own taste and world view allows you to observe each nook and cranny of that philosophy, strengthening your thinking and choices.

What I hope is that writing these poems about joy will help me grow more patient, content, grateful, and compassionate. Can I write myself into being my best self? Maybe. I am going to try, and hopefully I will draft some good writing along way.
I think that there's nothing more you can do than to make art. To write poems. And I came to the conclusion that aesthetic awareness—or aesthetic consciousness or aesthetic presence—is the only possible ethical presence we have. And so I went from thinking that the practice of aesthetics was a complete waste of time to thinking that aesthetic awareness is the most complete form of awareness we have. - See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19802#sthash.G7VSnqqZ.dpuf
I think that there's nothing more you can do than to make art. To write poems. And I came to the conclusion that aesthetic awareness—or aesthetic consciousness or aesthetic presence—is the only possible ethical presence we have. And so I went from thinking that the practice of aesthetics was a complete waste of time to thinking that aesthetic awareness is the most complete form of awareness we have. - See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19802#sthash.G7VSnqqZ.dpuf
I think that there's nothing more you can do than to make art. To write poems. And I came to the conclusion that aesthetic awareness—or aesthetic consciousness or aesthetic presence—is the only possible ethical presence we have. And so I went from thinking that the practice of aesthetics was a complete waste of time to thinking that aesthetic awareness is the most complete form of awareness we have. - See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19802#sthash.G7VSnqqZ.dpuf

No comments: