My friend, Franca, recently shared an article by Goffredo Parise, Italian journalist (and companion of artist Giosetta Fioroni) entitled “Il rimedio è la povertà” (“The remedy is poverty”). The article attacks modern man’s addiction to consumerism.
Parise made a distinction between poverty and misery—there is nothing poetic about not having a home or a meal to eat. But poverty, said Parise, means knowing what’s necessary as opposed to what’s superfluous.
This article, written over forty years ago, was prophetic. Having an economy based on consumerism means creating an economy that interprets too much as not enough thus necessitating constant consumption. But you can only put so much air in a balloon before it busts. And, my friends, we’ve been busted.
Quantity is not quality. And it is this lack of distinction that has provoked a worldwide economic crisis.
If you’ve little but it feels like a lot, you’re rich. If you’ve a lot but it feels like it’s not enough, then you’re poor. To become wealthy, you must learn to perceive the prosaic as poetic. To become wealthy, you must have everyday aesthetics. And to have everyday aesthetics, you must concentrate on the experience and not on the object.
Of course we can’t live in an object free world. But if these objects are not necessary or do not lead to an aesthetic experience, they are not only useless but harmful as they consume our vital space.
Objects, however, can lead towards experience. For example, transforming something you have but don’t use anymore. Because that act of transformation can create an aesthetically enriching experience necessary for daily aesthetics. Below are two personal examples:
My perfume comes in a Boudoir Pink bottle that’s too pretty to throw away. So this summer I filled an empty one with my homemade St. John’s Wort tincture. Since the spray head had to be pried off, it was reattached with a hose clamp.
My summer nightgown is a dress that I’ve had for more than 20 years. It’s full of holes that have been repaired boro-style. For some reason, wearing this dress as a nightgown makes me smile. Maybe because it’s permeated with pleasant memories.
Transformation of this kind is somewhat like reincarnation. What was once considered dead is alive again and the eternal return continues its cycle.
Long live Daily Aesthetics!
Dewey, John. Art as Experience. Perigee. New York. 1934.