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Everyday Aesthetics$
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Yuriko Saito

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199278350

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199278350.001.0001

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Everyday Aesthetic Qualities and Transience

Everyday Aesthetic Qualities and Transience

(p.149) IV Everyday Aesthetic Qualities and Transience
Everyday Aesthetics

Yuriko Saito (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

We normally react to manifestations of aging and different degrees of cleanliness and organization by cleaning, organizing, restoring, or discarding. These familiar reactions are rather complex, presupposing various conceptual considerations, including functionality, context, and personal relationship to the object. The appreciation of aged, messy, or defective appearance was encouraged by the British picturesque movement with its cult of ruins, Japanese wabi aesthetics underlie the tea ceremony, and rebellion against modernist aesthetics reveals a tension between our desire for control over life and the wisdom of submitting to its transient and other uncontrollable aspects. It also creates another tension: to decontextualize those qualities ordinarily depreciated to illuminate their positive aesthetic potential, while analyzing our common reactions to them in the ordinary context. Finally, the discussion highlights the danger of utilizing the power of the aesthetic through aestheticizing the social status quo and transience of life by taking examples from Japanese history.

Keywords:   cleanliness, organization, ruins, picturesque, wabi aesthetics, tea ceremony, power of the aesthetic, aestheticization, Japanese history

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