Aesthetic is a word that has become yet another cliché as of late. Though traditionally used more often as a noun, the new usage in pop culture tends to be adjectival and ironic, i.e. “That is so aesthetic!”
As contrived as the usage of “aesthetic” can be, I think it can still appropriately describe a certain je ne sais quoi, a vision of our lives and what we want it to look like. In essence, the word simply represents the act of appreciating beauty, which I believe has the potential to empower us. If we wait until all the little pieces of our lives are in place to be happy, to fit our aesthetic, then we may never truly be content.
The Japanese people have a interesting concept called 侘寂, or Wabi-sabi. It is their philosophy of aesthetics: “wabi-sabi is the art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in earthiness, of revering authenticity above all” (source). I find this concept fascinating. This is more in line with how I personally view aesthetics – not as a goal, but instead, a daily act. I think the appreciation of beauty in the present – however frivolous or earnest (and sometimes both) – is respectable, and I hope to incorporate it more into my own life.
I never made an official blog post after the US presidential election, which happened about two weeks ago. Like many of the people in our country, I was shocked by the results. I am still working through the many stages of grief, but something struck me as I scrolled through my Twitter feed, commiserating with others across the nation. Many of the artists and creative people I follow were sitting in their grief just as I was, but they did not let the despair destroy their motivation to create. This particular Huffington Post article titled What It Means To Be An Artist In The Time Of Trump was one of the many articles that I consumed voraciously as I tried to make peace with what happened a week prior. While I am still saddened by the election results, I think for myself, and many others, I am more motivated than ever to change the world in whatever way I can. Apathy is no longer acceptable, no matter who we are. Not all of us can be activists in the traditional sense, but we all have a responsibility to use our voices to speak up for the marginalized and hurting. I think all humans at our core want our own spaces in the world, a place where we can create things that others can relate to – whether it is drawing, music, words, or experiences. Now is an important time to continue to consume and to create, to continue to hold onto what is beautiful and to transform some of the ugliness in our spheres of influence.
Here are some of the beautiful things I have been appreciating lately because let’s be real — we could all use a little more inspiration these days:
1. The Balloon Dog by White Faux Taxidermy, Etsy, $35.
Clearly inspired by Jeff Koons, this little sculpture is too cute for words. I don’t have $58.4 million dollars to spare, this one won’t take up an entire room AND it’s rose gold so it’s really a win/win/win.
2. Burberry Brit eau de Parfum
I have been loving a spritz of this fragrance lately. This is a description from Fragrantica:
“Burberry Brit is a fragrance that keeps the tradition but with a modern sound, it brings the English irony and English dignity. It opens with fresh notes of green lemon, frosted pear and white almond. The heart blooms with white peony. The drydown is very gourmand with vanilla, amber, mahogany and balsamic Tonka bean accords. The fragrance was created by Nathalie Cracia-Getto in 2003.”
To me, this smells warm but fresh at the same time. I can really sense the pear note, which adds enough fruitiness without being unsophisticated. I’m usually not a fan of gourmand scents with too much vanilla or candy-like notes, but this one has just a touch of vanilla. It’s not overpowering so it won’t offend the people around you, but it lingers all day on my skin. Scent is so connected to emotions and memories – a light spritz of perfume can be a lovely mood booster, and I see it as a nice last touch to an outfit and how I want to present myself on any given day.
3. From Up On Poppy Hill (2011)
Scripted by one of my favorite animators, Hayao Miyazaki, and directed by his son, Goro, this movie was lovely. I grew up on Kiki’s Delivery Service, another Miyazaki film, and it remains one of my favorite movies to watch when I feel nostalgic. From Up On Poppy Hill has the same sweet and youthful elements of Kiki’s Delivery Service with a more grown-up plot. Set in post World War II Japan, the story revolves around high school student Umi, whose father is deceased and mother is working abroad. While not as daring as some of Miyazaki’s other films, he still took a common anime trope and somehow made it fresh. The themes of young love and the optimism of the generation of youth are well-executed. Once again, Miyazaki did not disappoint. A film like this one, which takes serious subject matter and approaches it with optimism, is just what I needed.
4. The Scientist (cover) – Jenny & Tyler, original by Coldplay
I have been following husband-wife folk duo Jenny & Tyler for a while now. Their voices blend together so seamlessly, and their songs have some powerful lyrical content. They explore themes like poverty, suffering, doubt, in ways that not many mainstream artists do. They’re Christ-followers, but their music isn’t always overtly Christian, which I think is a good thing. Not to mention, they have used their voices to raise money and awareness for organizations that I admire such as International Justice Mission.
I recently stumbled upon their EP For Freedom, which is an EP of carefully selected songs they chose to cover. They blogged about why they chose each song here. I’m not a huge Coldplay fan but I do really like the song The Scientist. Jenny & Tyler’s rendition is beautiful, and I have to say that I may even enjoy this cover more than the original, which is not the norm for me. The harmonizing in this cover is just addicting, and like me, you may just have to put this song on repeat.
These are just a few things that I have been loving lately. I hope you don’t forget to hold onto the things that inspire you.