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Imagine that!

January 14, 2015

Smelling, seeing, hearing, touching, tasting were survival mechanisms. Is there a predator nearby? Is there food nearby? Also: Do I know this person? How? And: Which of these kids is mine?

The sanskrit word for body translates, cheetah. Or is it that the sanskrit word for cheetah translates, body?

The Greek root of our word “aesthetics” is not “mind,” or “soul,” but “body,” “senses.” No body, no beauty. (No mind or soul, for that matter.)

A hypothetical: as we developed imagination, we became able to step back from fight or flight, and find being in the pleasure of representing things, including food and predators. Like gods*, we could create a new thing with sensory liveliness, an image. Part of the pleasure lay in the fact that a (representational) tiger or apple, with it’s meaningfulness, could be held in our hands; and more pleasure came then, in our ability to see more than one meaning, in both the thing that bites or is bitten, and the thing we have created. And we can share that thing, and its meanings, with someone else. We can even use that thing to increase our ability to survive and to enhance life while we are surviving.

Thus Wallace Stevens:** “It must change. It must be abstract. It must give pleasure.” It must be life-like (i.e. its meaning is not fixed or one-dimensional); it must be not-life (i.e. not an actual tiger or apple—although we have learned to include both kinds of raw reality in artistic objects and pleasure); it must give pleasure.

That is, it must give the kind of stepped-back, creative, imaginative, enhanced experience of an object—that kind of consciousness—that is an aesthetic experience and that we have learned to find pleasure in.

By now, the brain has developed so in tune with this kind of consciousness-making/being that it really grooves on it. That’s one of its activities when it is most healthfully being itself.

*“There go the ships, and there is that [imagined] Leviathan [that Moby Dick] whom thou hast made to take thy pastime therein. “ —Psalm 104. (Without an aesthetic sense, you’ll miss the sublimity; or maybe you feel as though you need a more up-to-date translation, like “There’s some boats. OMG! A whale!”)

**Poem: “Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction

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