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Everyday aesthetic experiences and concerns occupy a large part of our aesthetic life. However, because of their prevalence and mundane nature, we tend not to pay much attention to them, let alone examine their significance. Western aesthetic theories of the past few centuries also neglect everyday aesthetics because of their almost exclusive emphasis on art. In a ground-breaking new study, Yuriko Saito provides a detailed investigation into our everyday aesthetic experiences, and reveals how our everyday aesthetic tastes and judgments can exert a powerful influence on the state of the world and our quality of life.
By analysing a wide range of examples from our aesthetic interactions with nature, the environment, everyday objects, and Japanese culture, Saito illustrates the complex nature of seemingly simple and innocuous aesthetic responses. She discusses the inadequacy of art-centered aesthetics, the aesthetic appreciation of the distinctive characters of objects or phenomena, responses to various manifestations of transience, and the aesthetic expression of moral values; and she examines the moral, political, existential, and environmental implications of these and other issues.
without success, is where ‘‘there are certain acts which have to be done, certain attitudes to be taken, words which must be said—and other attitudes, other words are strictly prohibited.’’⁷⁸ In short, it is like ‘‘a work of art,’’ which for Roquentin is an organic unity governed by internal necessity.⁷⁹ We may not want to go so far as Sartre in denying the possibility of having an aesthetic experience while undergoing the actual experience, but the account given by the aesthetic attitude
environmental aesthetics and Japanese aesthetics. It is partly because my previous works focused on these two areas. But more importantly, environmental aesthetics as an established ﬁeld today provides a foundation distinct from ﬁne-artsbased aesthetics. Furthermore, environment, whether natural or built, surrounds us all the time, and, as such, it can never be dissociated from the everyday life. Japanese aesthetics, which happens to reﬂect my own cultural upbringing, also cannot be separated
sulfur vent. However, no matter how enlightened we become about the ecological beneﬁt of composting, for example, it seems almost impossible to overcome our visceral reaction to its bad smell.¹²³ The same is true of certain sounds, as indicated by people’s objection to the whirling sound of wind turbines at their early stage of development, a problem which subsequently seems to have been overcome with better technology. Part of the difﬁculties with these modes of sensing is that we cannot escape
to be, we almost never experience animal cries and birdsong in the abstract. We experience the whole complex, including the cause of the sound (warhorse or carthorse), physical environment, time of the day, and the season, which together sometimes give rise to a uniﬁed expression, such as cheerfulness or ﬁerceness, or at other times fail to do so due to incongruous elements, preventing the events from coming together into a whole. Our everyday experience of smell is similar. Even a clearly
‘‘The Landscape, A Didactic Poem,’’ included in The Genius of the Place: The English Landscape Garden 1620–1820, eds. John Dixon Hunt and Peter Willis (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1990), p. 344. The following passages are from pp. 347 and 348. The illustration by Hearne and Pouncy is reproduced on p. 343 in this edition. ³⁹ Addison, pp. 151 and 149. 168 everyday aesthetics where ‘‘No pleasing Intricacies intervene, | No artful Wilderness to perplex the Scene: | Grove nods at Grove, each Ally