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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.
begins paradoxically by cutting off a live ﬂower or branch, initiating its death, its primary aim is to ‘‘let ﬂower live,’’ literally the translation of ikebana, or to ‘‘let ﬂower express itself’’ (ikasu).²¹ This can be achieved by further cutting of branches, leaves, and blossoms so that only the essential parts deﬁning the particular plant can be clearly delineated. One contemporary commentator summarizes that ‘‘the ultimate aim of ﬂoral art is to represent nature in its inmost essence.’’²² The
ceremony offers an experience of appreciating seasonableness or a sense of time or weather resulting from the cooperation between the host’s preparation, the guest’s participation, and happenstance of circumstances. The initiator of wabi tea, Sen no Riky¯u (1522–1591), is known for his attention and sensitivity to the particular season and weather in which the tea ceremony takes place. For example, he would sometimes gather an impromptu tea ceremony at the ﬁrst snow of the season, giving detailed
moral signiﬁcance of this mode of aesthetic appreciation is not limited to our attitude as appreciators of objects and phenomena. Perhaps more prominently, it also applies to designers and creators. This sensitivity and respect for the objects’ essential characteristics underlie the attitude toward design and creation shared by traditional Japanese artists and crafts people, as well as contemporary artists committed to ‘‘truth to materials’’ and ecologically minded designers and architects. All
Japan-related publications, both his and mine, has been extremely beneﬁcial and productive. Over the years Barbara Sandrisser raised my awareness of Japanese aesthetics even more with her work on this subject and numerous newspaper articles that she sent me for my reference. Although I was raised in Japan, I credit Barbara for helping me become more sensitive and appreciative of my cultural heritage. David Hanson has also been a source of inspiration, with his unfailing commitment to addressing
judgment on the societal level based upon our assessment of the values/disvalues expressed by an object. For example, our negative aesthetic judgments on vandalism and grafﬁti that ‘‘deface’’ the structure and become an ‘‘eyesore’’ for the neighborhood are derived not simply from their appearance; in fact, some grafﬁti may look no different from the community-sanctioned mural or those grafﬁti that become christened as works of art. Our negative judgment is largely motivated by what we ²¹ Margaret