“The function of art is to free the spirit of man and to invigorate and enlarge his vision”
— Katherine Dreier
A human’s first encounter with a pattern in Nature is almost always accompanied by an emotion coming from our physical senses – usually stimulated by Nature’s beauty. Seeing a majestic mountain peak or dawn’s golden light, hearing the beautiful song of a bird, the smell of fresh rain, or feeling a rush of wind are all experiences of beauty provided to us by nature.
Aesthetic perception can evoke many emotions. According to Peter Saint-Andre:
“it can inspire, enlighten, send shivers up the spine, delight, anger, frighten; it can make one think, feel, shake one’s head in astonishment, cry, laugh out loud; it can evoke feelings of triumph, melancholy, light-heartedness, serenity, excitement, boredom, rightness, anxiety, joy, sorrow.”
Aesthetic perception offers the power of deep focus. For example, when one focuses the right brain through writing, sketching, or photography, one sees patterns and relationships that are otherwise overlooked.
Aesthetic perception can raise questions. But, there are questions with answers and questions without. Nature’s logical voice works on questions with answers – that is, a problem of such a kind and stated with such clarity that it is certain to have a definite answer. That answer may take ten years to find, or a hundred, but an answer exists. By contrast, in the world of aesthetics, the question is often more interesting than the answer, and often an answer doesn’t exist. How does one answer a question such as “What is beauty?” In Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet he says:
“We should try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue.”
That first sensory encounter with a pattern in nature is accompanied by the emotion of a beautiful happening. No matter what might happen later, that first response is aesthetic. And, that aesthetic response is usually the avenue to a spiritual experience where one connects to Nature within one’s soul.
That spiritual experience is discussed in the next blog entry.
Your comments are welcome !!!
My name is Bill Graham. As a Marine Biologist who has worked in the US and Mexico for 30 years, I am a student of Nature, a teacher, a researcher, and a nature photographer. Through my work, I have acquired an ever growing passion for how everything in Nature is connected. Today, I travel extensively contemplating about, writing about, and photographing Nature’s connections. I also work with conservation projects in the USA and Mexico and mentor talented youth.