In the process of writing up some new course proposals, I discovered some old writing I’d never sent out. The ideas are still present for me, so I offer them to you.
I think we can all feel it: the rumblings of change are happening all around us. Of course, change is part of life, but there’s something else happening. Entire structures are crumbling. We all know people who have lost their 30-year careers or life savings, but I’d prefer to focus on where I believe we’re being asked to focus…someplace other than financial security, obviously. Here are the notes:
Art and Social Change
Back in the early 1800s, the German poet and philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote that the fundamental nature of the world is aesthetic. More recently, business consultant Michael Jones has argued that “aesthetic consciousness” is the primary new work for leaders. And cosmologist Brian Swimme believes that beauty is what “will lead us to a new era of being human.” In other words, our task as humans is to follow and learn from those things that we find beautiful, those things that inspire our passions. It is time to immerse ourselves in beauty.
In his book, The Aesthetic Dimension, Herbert Marcuse wrote that “art [functions to] break open a dimension inaccessible to other experience, a dimension in which human beings, nature, and things no longer stand under the law of the established reality principle…The encounter with the truth of art happens in the language and images which make perceptible, visible, and audible that which is no longer, or not yet, perceived, said, and heard in everyday life.” (p. 72)
Teilhard de Chardin believed that we can experience the aesthetic dimension of life only if we are educated in our wholeness, that is, educated to become a “fully experiencing self.”