What is beauty if not that which gives our senses pleasure?
In 1904, George Santayana wrote his mentor, William James, about the aesthetic experience and its need to be stimulated. But unfortunately, writes Santayana, “one gets so dry in America with no food for the senses, especially if one is obliged to pump up theory every day.”
Santayana criticized the scientific community for their insistence on reducing aesthetics to just theory as his concern was not with creating a definition of beauty but, instead, of focusing on those conditions necessary to perceive beauty.
On via Tagliamento, there’s a curb that’s been repaired with sampietrini, the Roman cobblestone that once covered all the streets of Rome. Asphalt has replaced the sampietrini in terms of practicality but it cannot compete with the stone’s aesthetics—both visual and historical. Nevertheless, every time I reach that curb, I stop to look because reparation is a form of beauty.
Plus I like how geometric stones have been forced to adapt to a curve. And how the rebellious grass that, refusing to be obliterated by urban demands, grows in between the cracks. The mended curb gives me pleasure every time I step on it. For me it is beautiful. However, there are those who would not agree with me at all.
Epilogue: Beauty does not reside in an object but, instead, in the individual’s sense of beauty.
Related: The Aesthetics of Mending. + Sampietrini: the story of Rome’s iconic cobblestones + The Sense of Beauty pdf
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