Category Archives: esthetic arrest

You are under Esthetic Arrest

I just finished reading Joeseph Campbell’s Reflections On The Art of Living and have launched into his The Inner Reaches of Outer Space.
There are so many amazing concepts to go into. Joesph Campbell was such a delta of mythology, he makes a tremendous hub of universal knowledge and points the way to a paradigm shift in which we see the beauty of the messages behind the myriad of symbols and stories that we use to connect to the stream.
Above all, I have been fascinated and a bit obsessed with the idea of Esthetic Arrest. The term came from James Joyce. Joyce, when referring to art said that if it made you desire the object or subject portrayed, then it was pornographic. If it brought up fear or loathing in you, then it was didactic. If however, it was something that took you beyond fear and loathing ( in Las Vegas with Hunter S. Thompson, who seems to have read his Joyce as well ; )
and desire, and reflects wholeness, harmony and radiance with a “divinely superfluous beauty” it could act as a portal connecting us to all of life. It creates a still point amidst the vastness of a universe in which everything is constantly in motion.

“Esthetic arrest, the condition of the heart or spirit or whatever not being moved by desire or fear, is …the immovable spot…
The biological urges to enjoy and to master (with their opposites, to loathe and to fear) , as well as the social urge to evaluate (as good or evil, true or false), simply drop away, and a rapture, sheer experience supervenes, in which self-loss and elevation are the same. Such an impact is “beyond words;” for it is not such as can be explained by a reference to anything else. The mind is released- for a moment, for a day, or per-haps forever.- from those anxieties to enjoy, to win or to be correct which spring from the net… in which (we) are entangled. Ego is dissolved, there is nothing in the net but life- which is everywhere and forever.”

– Joeseph Campbell/ Reflections on the Art of Living.

Below is a TED talk of Tom Reed talking about taking pictures of nature that create an intake of breath denoting shock or the wow that hopefully allows for easthetic arrest as opposed to the breath out which denotes comfort or desire to be in the setting alone.
I have attached Van Gogh’s Starry Night because I feel his painting illustrates the reflection of nature that elicits this shock/ intake of breath. Of course what strikes us all individually and allows for esthetic arrest will be as varied as the myths that humanity has taken up to experience transcendence.

Tom Reed- Natural Beauty and Aesthetic Arrest:

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and may the interactions we have with family and friends go beyond our static stories and transcend into whiteness, harmony and radiance !