Critical Analysis on Topics in Aesthetic Theory

Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy that investigates the essence of appearance, taste, and art. Aesthetics, from an epistemological standpoint, entails learning sensori-emotional principles, especially the judging of taste and sentiment. Art is analyzed objectively by analyzing a series of criteria that underpin the artistic practice. Aesthetics, in general, refers to the collection of rules that control the essence as well as the enjoyment of beauty in art. Art, on the other hand, is characterized as the use of skills and creativity to construct shared artistic artifacts, experiences, and environments. Therefore, art is generated when an artist creates objects that are beautiful, or generates stimulating experience, which is deliberated by the audience to have merit artistically. Since each person has a distinct viewpoint regarding what beauty is and what is not, it appears that beauty does not attract similar opinions, which means that it is almost not possible to establish an agreed art’s definition. However, art is viewed both as an object of sensory experience and a knowledge instrument. It has the power to symbolize reality and express emotion. By understanding the expression and representation properties, people recognize the meaning of art, which means that art has content. It is undisputable that many art works are concerning the world and language is used to describe the content. Expression is the main function of aesthetic because is intuitive, and in understanding expression, people’s attitude change from mere curiosity to that instantaneous mindfulness of the tangible particular that is the central of aesthetic experience. Therefore, art reflects reality, as it entails attempts of humanity to recreate reality or reflections of reality, which involves imagination and creativity. The artist’s role can thus be said to be obviously and intrinsically tied to the art’s role. Both Rebecca Solnit’s “Open Door” & Wallace Stevens’ “The Idea of Order at Key West” describe and theorize the role the artist play in the society. According to Solnit, living and art making are closely related and artists exposes the unknown, while Steven depicts that in any society, the artist is the promoter of the imagination of that society as his ideas of order try to illustrate the role of imagination in life, especially the present life. Indeed, an artist attempts to reflect realities of the society through artistic works and the more realistic life is, the more it requires imagination stimulus.

Wallace wrote on natural world concepts to help discover as well as create meaning (Morse and Wallace107). His work the Idea of Order at Key West accentuates the internal desire to construct order meaning within the natural world and ascertain the role of origin of man and purpose of self. According to Wallace, order exist among the nature’s chaos and can be found, although it required the artistic craft of an individual to create meaning so as the presence of order is made known and evident to other people in the society. On the other hand, Solnit wrote Open Door as the first section of her work A Field Guide to Getting Lost both as an invitation and a challenge as it relates to the opportunity to new artistic doors that artists can explore as the society is offering many questions for exploration. According to Solnit, the key to engaging inquiry and ensuring to learn from it is through getting lost as by allowing one self not to get lost is not to live and not knowing how to get lost results to destruction.

According to Baldwin (17), artists actively cultivate the state of being alone, which many men avoid. People are enjoined to conquer their individual great wilderness, which then requires artist to illuminate that darkness to enable the society not to lose sight of its purpose, but be a better place when humans dwell “Most of us are not compelled to linger with the knowledge of our aloneness, for it is a knowledge that can paralyze all action in this world”. It has been the duty of artist to correct the delusions to which all men fall prey as they try to avoid aloneness. The artist is different from all other actors in the society as he is alone working in conformity to rules that lead him to revealing all possible discoveries regarding the human being mystery. Although the society accepts some things as real, the artist understands that there are deeper realities in the visible ones and all the human actions and achievements are based on the unseen things. When the society assumes and believes in its stability, on the other hand, it is the role of the artist to know and let other people recognize that under heaven, there is no stability. For this reason, other than taking anything for granted, the artist drives to the core of every response and uncovers the query hidden by the answer (Baldwin 17).

Wallace’s poem depicts the need for art to define the world people live in. He has used the sea and she to reveal the existence of order. The 1st, 2nd and 4th stanzas describe the sea imagery to help the reader decode the presence of order in the chaos in the society. Although order in the sea can be seen, it is masked by the raw portrayal of turmoil by Wallace like “the grinding waters and gasping wind” (13). Moreover, the poem further reveals that the sea keeps a strong consistency of order when Wallace says that “Waters never formed to mind or voice”, although it continued to be consistent “made constant cry, caused constantly a cry” (2, 5). According to Pack (130), the natural world cannot exist in absence of both order and disorder as the two are one, and constitutes a cycle that changes over the time’s course. In the poem The Idea of Order at Key West, Wallace showed the society as failures to recognize that order could be found in the natural chaos. Instead of looking for the presence of order in a featuring cyclical model, the society’s perception regarding the existence of order has been based dependently on that which is visibly evident in the present moment’s experience. He uses the woman to sing in the poem to allow the listener feel the presence of order and at the same time depict the role of an artist in the society to reveal what is hidden to other people in the society. In conformity with Baldwin (17) therefore, Wallace stresses that an artist’s role is to uncover to the society the deepest realities within the visible superficial realities. Likewise, in her work, Solnit depicts that the things the society wants are transformative and people are not aware or only presume they know what is on the other side of the transformation. Therefore, the doors are open for the artists to offer more meaning to the things that the people cannot comprehend deeply. Solnit’s inquiry bears in itself undertones of self- illusion acknowledgement and brushes up against the query of how people know who they are if they are changing continuously. According to Solnit (11), the uncertainty should not be an obstacle to leaving, but life’s wellspring that leads to creative life. Like Baldwin (17), she has bridged the essence of art with the idea that not knowing drives science and by embracing the unknown the outcome is self-transcendence. The role of any artist is to uncover the unknown, as that entails the idea, form or tale that has not arrived yet, and endeavors to find the answers. Therefore, the artist has a role to open the doors and summon in predictions, the unknown because this is where their works is derived from.

The work of Solnit compares with that of Wallace in depicting that things are not what they seem to be on the surface, but have deeper meanings that the artist reveals. The two works portray the role of the artist in the society and emphasizes that societies cannot exist without the artists and there can be no artist without the society as the two need each other for progression. The artist depends on the society to look at the situations and try to find out their hidden meaning, while the society looks upon the artist for meaning that would otherwise be too difficult to interpret without the artist, which makes art works have a social function. In conclusion, it is very important to theorize the role of artist in society because art encompasses all aspects of human life.

Works Cited

Baldwin, James. “The creative process.” Creative America (1962): 17-21.

Morse, Samuel French, and Wallace Stevens. “Poetry as Life (New York: Pegasus, 1970).” Morse107Wallace Stevens: Poetry as Life1970: 107.

Pack, Robert. Wallace Stevens: An Approach to His Poetry and Thought. New York: Gordian Press. 1968

Solnit, Rebecca. A field guide to getting lost. Canongate Books, 2006.

Wallace, Stevens, “The idea of order at Key West.” (1935).

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