End-of-year aesthetics

Earlier this week I was a passenger in a car for almost five hours from Missouri to Chicago, a pretty unusual situation to find myself in. I tried to make the most of the restful opportunity despite the all-too-slowly waning symptoms of my mega-cold. I watched the barren winter Illinois landscape go by and meditated on beauty, the goodness of God and art farms.

On beauty, my mind came back to this combination of quotes from earlier in the year that I thought was worth reposting.

We don’t want merely to see beauty . . . We want something else which can hardly be put into words — to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.
– C.S. Lewis


Endeavouring to purchase something we think beautiful may in fact be the most unimaginative way of dealing with the longing it excites in us, just as trying to sleep with someone may be the bluntest response to a feeling of love. What we seek, at the deepest level, is inwardly to resemble, rather than physically to possess, the objects and places that touch us through their beauty.
– Alain de Botton

About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at pcNielsen.com.

One Response to End-of-year aesthetics

  1. Julie says:

    I love the Lewis quote. You used it in another more recent post. (See, I am catching up with your writing… it’s wholly worth the time…)

    A friend recently lent me Edward Abbey’s “Desert Solitude”: Standing there, gaping at this monstrous and inhuman spectacle of rock and cloud and sky and space, I feel a ridiculous greed and possessiveness come over me. I want to know it all, possess it all, embrace the entire scene intimately, deeply, totally….

    The second has some truth to it, but there’s also this line from a Jewel song: “Maybe if we are surrounded in beauty, someday we will become what we see.” There’s much to be said for being the guardian of beautiful objects… even though I buy things and they are “mine,” in many ways they aren’t…

    At some point, the real key is in one’s attitude toward the object.

    Thank you, also, for this post: my train of thought continued into a discussion of reacting to work… which will be its own post over at design-realized. It was good to write, too, so hopefully will spur some kind of thought or discussion in others.

    Sorry to miss you while you were in town. Next time…

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