Thursday, September 16, 2010

Esthetics and Ecopoetics

From Frederick Turner,  “An Ecopoetics of Beauty and Meaning” in Biopoetics: Evolutionary Explorations in the Arts (Lexington KY: Icus Books, 1999), p. 125—

Perception constructs a precise, individuated world of solid objects “out there,” endowed with color, shape, smell, and acoustic and tactile properties. It is generous to the outside world, giving it properties it did not necessarily possess until some advanced vertebrate was able, through its marvelously parsimonious cortical world-construction system, to provide them. Perception is both more global, more holistic, than sensation—because it takes into account an entire outside world—and more exact, more particular, because it recognizes individual objects and parts of objects...What is this awareness that is to perception what perception is to sensation, and sensation to reaction? The answer is: aesthetic experience. Aesthetic experience is as much more constructive, as much more generous to the outside world, as much more holistic, and as much more exact and particularizing than ordinary perception, as ordinary perception is than mere sensation. Thus by ratios we may ascend from the known to the very essence of the knower. Aesthetic perception is not vague and “touchy-feely” relative to ordinary perception; quite the reverse. This is why, given an infinite number of theories that will logically explain the facts, scientists will sensibly always choose the most beautiful theory. For good reason: this is the way the world works.