How do you incorporate the notion of aesthetics into your life? To what extent does it play a role in the choices you make?
I have placed significant emphasis around aesthetics in defining my character. Any element that maintains presence in my life on a frequent enough basis, I consider worthy of aesthetic analysis.
Is this necessary? Not strictly. But the more I strive to approach my tasks in a paced and mindful manner, the more attention I dedicate to their underlying essence and basic physical properties. I prefer movements, objects, visuals, audio, and spacial composition to respect properties in accordance with certain not easily defined principles, although often based around simplicity.
Rather than exploring the philosophical aspect to any greater depth, for which I have not the background nor the interest, I will cover the various areas in which I prioritize much aesthetic appeal.
Languages. The specific language a person speaks, the choice of vocabulary, the pace, the diction, the accent, the word emphasis, are some among the list of parameters I subconsciously analyze not only in listening to another person but in regulating my own speech. Written language naturally possesses parameters different from the spoken. It’s not uncommon to be attracted to a written word and yet drained by the spoken word of the same person. I experience this frequently enough.
Corollary: be mindful of the medium in choosing your mentor or associate.
Mathematics. Provides analytical models that explain mechanisms prevalent to nature, communication, economics, biology, computation, etc. And many of these models are simple, abstract and parametrical equivalents of mechanisms otherwise difficult or fallacy prone in common terminology. Some of the models are capable of preventing much economic grief, stress, and misleading intuition by means of basic education that by no means should cease after preparatory school or the university. Mathematics epitomizes beauty.
Nutrition. I find much connection between the benefit and the aesthetic composition of a certain meal. Natural ingredients (vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, etc) generally characterise themselves by textural simplicity and intuitive nutritional value. They simply look rich, colorful, and appealing on a plate. On the other hand artificial, processed, or derived meals are typically complex if not entirely puzzling in their ingredients (as a typical packing label reveals) and look anything from ill-textured to unsavory. The loss of aesthetic appeal typically scales with the increasing processed complexity.
If the above doesn’t lend itself to natural intuition, I offer the following exercise which could stimulate new insight. Imagine yourself as a nutritional element (in an abstract sense, not necessarily on a plate). You could choose to identify yourself with a leaf, seed, or a fruit. Maybe a root, or perhaps a grain. You could identify yourself with a crispy, processed potato. Or a stringy pasta. Maybe a pastry or a croissant? Does the above provoke any particular sensation?
I often abstract myself in a premise of a certain idea or visual to evaluate the aesthetic appeal. Nutrition is not an exclusive domain.
Coffee. Various forms of consuming this beverage exist. My favorite is a small cup or glass of 6oz or 170ml maximum volume, three quarters or less filled with pure coffee. I gradually arrived to consider any extra volume or the addition of sweeteners, lactose products, or other chemical compounds more or less as an exercise of mindless consumption. And I have nothing but contempt for disposable containers, which relates not only to aesthetics but wastefulness. You may employ a different aesthetic analysis or may not even have considered this dimension.
Coffee is a compound already having undergone multiple stages of processing beyond the coffee bean picked off a tree, and I prefer to limit any further transformation. To the contrary, the beverage not only loses aesthetic appeal but also reinforces certain chemical dependence (beyond caffeine) which I don’t want infused with my character.
Mobile Phone. I find one of the most unattractive technological accessories to be a portable touch-screen device. I have largely abstained from this technology. I still experience disdain in the appearance and the interaction, but have carried one during a course of a year for reasons of a certain application lack of support in legacy devices. Yet I constantly brainstorm alternate measures.
My aesthetic analysis involves the following. Imagine yourself as your abstract ideal version. Then place yourself in a physical environment. Do you prefer to be the character that maintains a straight posture, walks with confidence, conscientiously analyzes the surroundings, confidently interacts with physical human beings? Or do you prefer to be hunched over, staring hypnotically into the confines of your palm or sliding your finger across the contour of the illuminating screen in a gesture reminiscent to that of preparing to apply facial powder?
I find unappealing not only the interaction, but also the oversaturated quantity of unnecessary distractions concentrated in a portable device.
The above analysis may offend some, but these are visuals I employ for my own purpose of either eliminating or cultivating certain habits. You may realistically find yourself in some linear combination of categories, but I find the exercise of harnessing extreme visuals effective in eliminating the respective habits.
Consumerism. If you invest much time in shopping or acquiring more products, you not only clutter your life but contribute to resource wastefulness. Resources are not perpetual. Energy is still largely confined to traditional means such as fossil fuels, petroleum, ethanol, etc. Pollution carries side effects. As you suspect, the consumerism mentality invokes a certain butterfly effect. None of this sounds appealing from any aesthetic standpoint.
Minimalism. The more you concentrate your energy and resources on your priorities, and the more unessential elements you eliminate from your life, not only will the simplicity carry a certain charm, but your presence will produce a notably smaller natural/ecological footprint. Not to mention increased liberty to explore more ideas.
The presence of aesthetics expands to additional areas. The daily workflow, operating system usage, note-taking process, exercise routine, are only a small subset. Perhaps I’ll explore some of these areas and others in a continuation of this post.