An Aesthetics of Prose (short version)

What’s the oldest cliché of aesthetics? That beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This tells us two things: 1 — that beauty is relative, someone else might not see it; and 2 — beauty is something that happens in perception. So, being sensitive to beauty could mean guiding or improving our ability to see, hear and feel it, to appreciate it so that everyone may see. Why do we even celebrate and desire beauty? Because it exudes a sense of joy. I personally believe that the more joy we perceive, the happier, better we’ll be. It’s good to surround & immerse ourselves in art and beautiful things. Now, this is easy enough to apply to pictures, design, sculpture etc. It gets trickier with writing, especially the most general & diverse form: prose. We can’t deny that there is beautiful prose, but what makes it so? It boils down to a quality and intent of the writing, and how that resonates in terms of idea, form, style, in our minds. Divide that by the relativism of readers and readings, multiplied by the thousands of prose styles... and you’ll realise something has to change if we’re to think of prose as a work of art — as something definable. We can do this by revisioning the borders and finality of a work of writing and to exploit one of its core qualities: that it inspires more writing. A work is never truly finished, definitive, essential — its spirit lives on in perception and the way perceptions change and elaborate over time. For prose, this means the act of creating more interpretations and insightful writings, a way of sharing the idea. The aesthetics of prose is the process of carrying on the created conversation and vision of an original text, and create new perceptions thereby.

Longer-winded PDF version of An Aesthetics of Prose (208 KB)

1 comment:

Scott Kernaghan said...

I haven't read your essay just yet, but I may do so if I find a moment to do so tomorrow. But I think I can see where you're going with this.

Beauty is - largely subjective, yes. But sometimes I think we forget that sometimes beauty isn't just an aesthetic quality. There's a beauty the can be shared by an audience for example; something which can be experienced by a room full of people, and as such makes it hard to define as being subjective.

I'm sure I could talk about this all night, so I might wait until I've read your essay before I go on.