Why is disinterested action so overrated

textKulturation 1/2004
Kaspar Maase
The banause and the beautiful life project
Reflections on the meaning and qualities of everyday aesthetic experience
The consumer's activity is to consume, that is, to illuminate and enrich his life by seeing and hearing, and not to analyze the means of form ... If it is true that what is passed off as aesthetic or critical attitudes is often nothing but a contrivance to escape the overwhelming appeal of art, then it is the television audience that is completely innocent of the excitement, thrill and tension , the only social group that acts as a true art consumer.
Rudolf Arnhem / 1 /

As part of a psychological study, a Berlin vocational school student wrote the following text in 1927.

"I had never been to the cinema in my life. And never got my hands on a newspaper. But I read a story called On the Way to the Golden City. It was a beautiful story that I enjoyed. The beginning was very nice, but in the middle it started sad, and in the end it was even sadder. The main thing was that I read at least one story that was very nice. I'll get my hands on several books. "/ 2 /

The adjective "beautiful" is by no means clearly used here. In contrast to "sad", it seems to mean 'pleasant, pleasant, harmonious' and to refer primarily to what is depicted. The other use, however, unmistakably results in a different meaning in the overall context. A "beautiful story" is one that evokes a feeling of joy in the reader - a joy that obviously does not arise from simple identification with what is presented. On the contrary: the fact that the story increases step by step, from the beautiful to the sad to the sadder, seems to be its quality feature. Precisely because of this, the report suggests, it was a "very nice" story.

Let's take a closer look at how the judgment is formulated. Apart from the title, we do not learn anything substantial about the plot, characters, scenery or message of the story. For the respondents, the reading appears to be relevant only from the point of view of their feelings that arose while reading and reflecting on what was read (and which may arise again and again). Nice - enjoyed it - very nice - sad - even sadder - very nice - this is how the chain of predicates that characterize the text runs. They all describe sensations that were linked to the reception, and "beautiful" seems to sum up the upscale, happy mood that the young Berliner felt - a constellation of strong pleasant feelings that we can understand as an emotional correlate of an aesthetic experience.

The search for experiences that people perceive as beautiful and the enjoyment of such experiences form a primary determinant of everyday activities of people in western industrial societies. The subjective and social importance of striving for aesthetic experience / 3 / has increased extraordinarily in the course of the 20th century, especially in the second half. The "beautiful life project", as the cultural sociologist Gerhard Schulze calls it, is now a basic orientation of everyday practice - and is problematically misunderstood in the social and cultural sciences. These are some of the theses discussed in the following article.

Method: penniless

First a word about the methodology. How should an actor- and everyday-oriented cultural studies approach the diffuse phenomenon of the beautiful? The social anthropologist Alfred Gell / 4 / has formulated a principle for this that seems to me to be indispensable; he calls it "methodological philistinism". This means that the researcher must cast off all ideas about the value and achievements of beauty and art that form the content of aesthetics as a theory of beauty. Gell's model is the sociology of religion; As Peter Berger / 5 / has compellingly pointed out, it can neither be practiced by believers nor by theologians; Scientific analysis is only possible for someone who approaches the belief as a "methodological atheist". Only from this position can one ask what religious systems do for people and what people actually do when they believe in the transcendent.

Correspondingly, Gell says: If we want to find out what art does that other things don't, and what people do when they experience art's ability to enchant, then we must first silence all aesthetic knowledge in us - because aesthetics is the "theology of art". And that consequently also applies to the investigation of those beauty experiences that are not triggered by art.

So far so good. Only one small problem remains: There are atheists in the scientific community - but there are no banauss! In our culture one can be an intellectual and an atheist, but not an intellectual and a banause. This does not, however, disprove Gell's argument. In the following, I will therefore try to practice a little methodological banality. / 6 /

First of all, I would like to illustrate the observations that have led me to the - admittedly somewhat pathetically formulated - thesis of the growing 'hunger for beauty'. There are no new continents to be discovered; I propose a changed look at things familiar, perhaps too familiar, to the social sciences since World War II. Anyone who does something like this has to explain which advantages and which gain in knowledge the new perspective promises. This should happen in the second part (III. And IV.), And the core question must be: How can the aesthetic dimension of western-modern lifestyle be grasped so that it deepens the understanding of our everyday life?

Hunger for beauty

So how does hunger for beauty show? In 2003, the average German spent more than eight hours a day with the media, almost six of them with radio and television; In 1970, less than four hours were devoted to the media ./7/ Conservatively estimated that means that we now consume art five hours a day: music, pop videos, television games, crime novels, movies, court shows and TV series. I'm not even talking about commercials, computer games, acting, magazine photos, sequel and photo novels, short stories, comics, obese books and all the other popular genres that delight the senses, mind and intellect.

On top of that. Even modern academic aesthetics no longer locates the sources of the experience of beauty in art, i.e. in objects that were primarily produced for this purpose. In the meantime, everything that belongs to perception in the entire breadth of our sensual, emotive, imaginative faculties is considered a possible object of aesthetic experience (and scientific study). The gradual turning away from a theoretical tradition, the most important function of which since Kant has been to "enable conversation about works of art" / 8 /, reacts to the mostly lamented "aestheticization of the lifeworld" that is widely acknowledged. Something overwhelming has really happened in the last half century. We surround ourselves with more and more things and are constantly creating new productions that are designed more and more attractive and are selected with ever growing consideration. This applies to shopping malls and water parks as well as to clothing and home furnishings.

Unfortunately, there are no ethnographies of shopping that show the amount of time and thought that goes into deciding on a new seating area, a jacket or a coffee machine. Which of the many models suits you, suits your home furnishings, your self-image? Didn't we see a very chic model at a friend's house? Don't we want to take a look at the Alessi shop? The beautiful things, the joy they bring with their sensual appearance (color, material, surface treatment) and concise shape, and the emotional and reflective effort invested in the selection / 9 / - these are arguments in my opinion for the thesis that the pursuit of ever more and ever more intensive aesthetic experience has been one of the primary motives for action in western modern lifestyles for decades.

It is particularly impressive that areas of material culture that are not suitable for representation and have therefore been designed purely functionally for a long time without any thought of their sensual appearance are gradually being drawn into the pull of aestheticization. In the modern working world, for example, these are screensavers - now almost a separate genre of popular art / 10 / - or documents for the computer mouse./11/ A striking example of the aesthetic horror vacui that cannot leave anything undesigned in our tangible environment that demands to exhaust the possible perceptual qualities of everyday things are condoms. I'm not talking about the packaging, but about the contraceptives themselves. It is difficult to attribute status representation or distinction to the customer who pays attention to the design - the public that he could impress with his taste is quite small. It is the pleasure in the variety of colors and the charm of the sexual imagination that makes up the aesthetic added value compared to the colorless, medical-style classic condom. The Federal Center for Health Education uses this with great success in advertising the use of condoms; "Colorful evenings - join in," recommended a campaign recently ./12/

I jump to generalization. In the course of the 20th century, increased with the dynamic of prosperity since the 1950s, it has become for Europeans (as, mutatis mutandis, for people in other regions too) a need and a habit to furnish objects and activities of the ordinary life 'beautiful': sensual attractive and emotionally appealing, in a concise, pleasing form and charged with symbolic messages that give existence a dimension beyond everyday pragmatism. What is sought and enjoyed is what flatters the senses, what charms the eyes and ears, smell and the sense of touch, as well as that mental confrontation with the world that art also offers in its most popular genres. With the social force of nature, the need has spread; meanwhile it has an elementary character: if we were to be denied it, we would dry up like a plant without water. There is hardly a decision that does not include aesthetic demands. And where the basics of economic and physical reproduction are secured, the way of life is increasingly oriented towards aspects of beauty - not infrequently and deliberately at the expense of functionality and economic rationality.

Soap operas, radio tunes while cleaning the house, advertising, hits with schoolwork, crime series - what does that have to do with art ?! Didn't Karl Heinz Bohrer warn of the terror of the pedestrian zone aesthetics that threaten the country? / 13 / Didn't Wolfgang Welsch characterize the effect of the widespread pampering campaigns as an aestheticization, as a desensitization for sensual and creative qualities? / 14 / If everywhere is embellished, what can the experience of everyday beauty still mean?

A good question! Because many of the examples mentioned are really in the area of ​​elementary aesthetics, i.e. a pre-reflective pleasure. This distinction is discussed further below. First, here is a more fundamental answer in three parts. First: If the aestheticization (or also the embellishment) of the everyday world leads to the fact that everything is completely beautiful and appealing, then one may regret that from the perspective of a theory for which aesthetic experience must have the character of the extraordinary in order to really grasp people . From this point of view, where everything is beautiful, the category of beautiful no longer makes sense, since it makes no difference. Anyone who argues in this way confirms the thesis of the omnipotent hunger for beauty - even if he laments the consequences.

Second, instead of speaking of need, one should speak to Gernot Böhme about aesthetic desire. Needs are at some point satisfied, desires "are not satisfied by their satisfaction, but increased." / 15 / All attempts of the past century to satisfy the hunger for beauty have only nourished it. It will continue to drive people more, not less, and it is precisely for this reason, in whatever forms of expression, that it forms a basic trend of European modernity.

Thirdly, and above all: Anyone who is offended by the massiveness of the phenomenon is still a long way from being a real banause. He is not capable of an ethnographic approach to the aesthetic in the everyday life of the many, of describing from an emic point of view and of trying to interpret what is observed from the perspective of the actors.


There are already approaches to such readings. I want to quote a relatively early one and thus at least indicate the period in which I locate the beginning of the specifically modern hunger for beauty in Germany: around 1900, when the production and use of inexpensive industrial everyday goods such as art goods became part of the lifestyle of the masses. / 17 / Whitsun 1902, Heinrich Wolgast, elementary school rector and committed champion of aesthetic education, gave a lecture at the German teachers' meeting in which he pointed out the new development.

"Go to the dance halls and music halls, to the theaters and museums, look at the apartment and the clothes even of the poor, and you will find that there is an irresistible urge for joy everywhere. Let's get to the bottom of this joy So, often to our horror, we find the joy of art. But in what distorted form! The tasteless tinsel of clothes, the sad oil pressure on the wall of the room, the music of the beer concert and Tingeltangels, the horror drama and the horror novel - all feel it the vast majority of the German people as art! What causes us disgust is felt as pleasure. This difference in feeling divides our people into two nations that will never understand each other. "/ 18 /

I admire how Wolgast sheds the blinkers of educated ethnocentrism here. And I refuse to accept that the limit of taste characterized by him should be analytically insurmountable; after all, the ideal of methodological penniless has now been formulated.

In the more recent social science, Gerhard Schulze is undoubtedly the most energetic advocate of taking the modern "beautiful life project" seriously. In the context of his global diagnosis of an "aestheticization of everyday life", he states that members of our society are constantly striving to experience the beautiful, and he understands the beautiful to be a pleasant experience produced by the subject - which can also be put into ironing or drinking beer. / 19 / That leaves the air to every exaggeration of the beautiful, every attempt to ennoble it as an expression of the true and the good (or to commit to what discourse-determining groups define as morality and truth) ./20/ Whether such a far-reaching subjectification and expansion of the beautiful makes analytical sense, this has to be discussed. But Schulze is sure to receive an award as a methodological banause.

The compensation paradigm

The main point of contention is no longer today, if Everyday life is becoming increasingly aesthetic. The paradigm dispute is about how the desire for beauty increases interpret is. The prevailing interpretation model is based on a deep-seated, almost fundamentalist distrust of the possibility of aesthetic experience in the everyday life of the masses. The more often enjoyment and joy in the beautiful are empirically attested, the stronger the effort to disparage such an experience: as illegitimate, improper, as fraud and self-deception - as everything possible, just not aesthetically in the substantial sense.

The worldview that is articulated here is twofold incompatible with the self-image of western modernity./21/ It is based on the secularized notion of the earthly vale of tears./22/ The world is poorly or incorrectly arranged, unjust and exploitative, more cynical and unscrupulous in the grip Power politics, the life in it inauthentic and alienated, threatened above all by the sensual desire / 23 / of the human being. The radically modern autonomization of the beautiful over the true and the good is withdrawn with a moral gesture. Adorno's dictum that there is no real life in the wrong one is used to discredit the supposedly naive enjoyment of the beautiful - especially when it is the disadvantaged, supposedly alienated, who enjoy it.

In Brecht's "An die Nachgeborben" from 1938 it says: "What kind of times are these when / A conversation about trees is almost a crime / Because it includes silence about so many crimes!" The wise poet denounces the circumstances, not those who may enjoy trees in bloom. "... almost a crime": Brecht takes care not to make everyday life totally subject to the moral imperative to resist or rigorously confess the truth. But although since then philosophers and social scientists have formulated a few things about the character of the lifeworld, in which logically irreconcilable reference systems for acting and thinking coexist and are applied depending on the context in which modern everyday people act according to area-specific ethics - nevertheless, wide areas of science and likewise those who, as intellectuals, claim the role of the collective social conscience, as a kind of aesthetic epidemic police. Wherever there is untroubled joy in mass arts and beautiful things, they immediately draw a cordon sanitaire of warning and relativizing interpretations around the source of infection. The healthy and those afflicted by the virus of pleasure must be protected by education from the fact that aesthetic enjoyment will lead to the disease of false understanding of the world, forced reconciliation with suffering and injustice, and addicting misconception of reality.

This is where the second a priori of the ruling paradigm comes into play: Legitimate aesthetic enjoyment is only possible for specially qualified people on specially qualified objects. As an entry ticket to the club, an ID card with a critically differentiated linguistic reflection of one's own experience is valid. Anyone who only sheds tears, who does nothing other than hear a piece of music - dozens of times, who is only able to articulate his pleasure in the formulas "absolutely blatant", "wonderful", "super", "really exciting", disqualifies his experience with it yourself - even if it was a piece by Mahler or Mozart that triggered the speechless feelings. / 24 /

In argumentation, the prevailing interpretation presents itself as a compensation paradigm. The joyful aesthetic experience of everyday people in everyday life is denied the quality of disinterested pleasure, self-serving and self-sufficient enjoyment by ascribing all kinds of substitute functions to it. Experience of this kind of beauty compensates for existential deficits. Alienated joy in goods beautiful replaces actual, deep, genuine, lasting happiness in life; shiny appearance and kitschy pseudo-feelings help you get over the dreary everyday life and suffering from underprivileged; Emotional intoxication and consumption covered the void of existence; Dealing with art and beautiful things serves to increase status and distinction; popular pleasure is a substitute for the experiences conveyed by that great art which, unfortunately, remains closed to ordinary people in terms of education.

The dominant tone is condescending understanding for those who are tough with life. The subtext of moral reproach is loudest when it comes to art and beauty in commodity form. In his most successful book, the "Critique of Goods Aesthetics" / 25 / Marxist (and dialectically differentiated), Wolfgang Fritz Haug formulated what has moved conservatives, cultural critics and popular educational reformers in Germany since the beginnings of industrial capitalist product culture: that only the beautiful appearance of the shape of the goods pull the money out of the pocket of the inexperienced shoppers and destroy their ability to see the honest form and the really good things.

Now I am the last one to deny that these readings have a correct core; they contain more than a grain of truth. However, you create a serious problem. They deny - they do not overlook, they deny the possibility of an independent, self-sufficient, aesthetic experience in everyday life that is sought for its own sake and not for other purposes, an experience that has its own history and which perhaps follows different logics and different standards than those of the intellectually recognized aesthetics - a commonplace logic and commonplace standards.

Denial has a socially and morally questionable implication, insofar as it denies most of our fellow citizens a competence that would even be comparable to that which we educated people attribute to ourselves: the competence to aesthetic experience sensu strictu. This hint is not an argument; You can also be right if you deny someone a skill. But then you would have to be serious beforehand - ethnographically! - have made an effort to demonstrate this ability. And this is exactly where the scientific scandal lies in my eyes: in the exclusion of a possible research direction.

No everyday activity has only one function, all of them are overdetermined and polyvalent, changing meaning and meaning with the context and the direction in which the observer is asking. So let's accept the interpretation of compensation and substitution; then the question remains, what kind of special gratuities are that conveyed by mass art and beautiful trinkets. After all, there are many options for escaping reality and suppressing suffering. Why Pilcher and not Pilsner, opium instead of opium? For the social critic this is irrelevant; he is mainly interested in what is beautiful in such experiences Not is discussed. The actors of everyday life, on the other hand, are interested in what they have to do for this experience and what it brings them - and if the compensation theorists are right, then the experience of the beautiful must at least release such energies that people with a clear mind keep an oppressive reality at a distance, even be able to forget. After all, compensation is not something that falls to you, it is the result of an achievement; Hermann Bausinger once even considered that there are good reasons why culture can be understood as the result of compensation.

So: The compensation paradigm has a black box in its center; it treats the specific gratuities of mass art and consumer beauty as irrelevant and makes it unnecessary to lighten the quality of the assumed aesthetic experience. But in addition to all the comforting and whitewashing functions that everyday contact with art and beauty can have, it conveys a unique experience that cannot be replaced by anything that is sought and enjoyed for its own sake; so he does something that no other activity does.

There are certainly suggestions that could serve as working hypotheses. For Gernot Böhme, for example, people want to "intensify their life and increase their attitude towards life" through beautiful things; and John Dewey thinks in a similar direction when he speaks in his aesthetics of an increase in the "immediate sense of existence" and happiness-filled moments of "most intense life" ./26/ These are not yet satisfactory answers to the question of what constitutes popular aesthetic experience , and to some they may sound vitalistic, uncritical, and incorrect; but it seems to me that they are very good suggestions for methodological penniless.

To conclude this part, let's take a look at folklore / European ethnology. During its (social) scientificization in the third quarter of the last century, it adopted the compensation paradigm and largely omitted the investigation of everyday popular aesthetic experience. In the case of classic fields of investigation such as material culture, folk art, folk songs, folk tales, reading materials, fairy tales, wall decorations and media, the question of what people find beautiful and why would not be so remote; but neither the standard work on the methods of folklore nor the 3rd edition of the "Grundrisse" contain the keywords aesthetics or beauty in the register; Only through the "aestheticization of food" do we learn that meals function as an indicator of lifestyles./27/ Helge Gerndt's statement "that in folklore there is explicitly little talked about the beautiful" / 28 /, one has to absolutely agree.

Here is just one example of the blind spot in the folklorist's eye. A new, well-made monograph on the subject of petty bourgeoisie contains a chapter on "Everyday Aesthetics"; this is summed up under the term "functional aesthetics": "Everything that was seen decorates, fits in, decorates, documents, fills surfaces, demonstrates, functions as a signal ...: It is beautiful because it is useful. "/ 29 / Actual aesthetic experience, as we still find out here, is not known to the petty bourgeoisie.

A brief interim balance sheet: that for the Western Europeans of the 20th century, beautiful things (popular art, everyday things and designed environments) play an ever-growing and now paramount role - measured in terms of both time and money spent on them interpret it in two ways. As compensation for what people actually lack; then aesthetic experience is either the result of manipulative being poured in or a means to an end that lies outside: repression, numbness, flight, demonstration of status. 'Hunger for beauty' means that development from the perspective of everyday actors has an independent core that carries it and to which the functionalizations only attach; The focus is on the pleasant and enriching aesthetic experience that has its value and meaning in itself. The purposes that are attached could also be pursued by other means. They are not responsible for the dynamism, yes, indispensability, but the enhancement of life that the contact with the beautiful opens up. The self-determined mix of meaning and sensuality, the search for beauty and aesthetically conveyed experience of the self and the world is becoming more and more important for everyday practices as well as for biographical decisions. The beautiful life project is established as a primary resource of meaning in mass democracy.

Aesthetic experience: definitional

Anyone who takes this point of view has to deal with an almost exuberant literature that denies the quality of the aesthetic to the everyday dealings with popular art and designed environment - measured against the norms of a philosophically founded, art-centered theory. There are three strategies for argumentation. First, one could try to prove that the recognized handling of canonized aesthetic objects also only meets the requirements of theory in exceptional cases; A medium would be ethnographic studies of the high-culture audience and their modes of appropriation (which, interestingly enough, have hardly been available so far) ./ 30 / Second, one could try to prove that the aesthetic experience of everyday people certainly meets the criteria of the established aesthetic criticism, if one only considers the specifics of the genres and the conditions of appropriation. / 31 / Thirdly, one could try to develop the contours of an aesthetics integrated into everyday life, which is at least partially determined by modes of experience, modes of action and quality standards sui generis.

I am convinced that all three paths can be followed with success. Folklore cultural studies should do this because a model of 'two aesthetics' - bourgeois vs. popular, educated vs. uneducated - based on the model of the 'two cultures' theory, which was attractive until the 1970s, certainly does not affect our society. After a few remarks on the second aspect, I will now concentrate on the third.

First, however, to the terminology. Hardly anyone today would be so presumptuous as to want to define beauty. The category here, following the colloquial language, is intended to describe everything that is aesthetically experienced in a positive way./32/ This includes for everyday people / 33 / the pleasure of objects that are not pleasing, easily digestible, and healing world. Popular art also knows the aesthetic pleasure in the ugly, the terrifying, the excessive - in what Kant calls the sublime. Think of genres like horror and splatter; And in view of the almost unleashed special effects, the effect of which on the viewer is not leveled down even by a superimposed happy ending, one can attribute disaster, SF, action films and even the mass food crime (now and then) the representation of that incomparably excessive that our representational ability appears inappropriate and "violent to the imagination" and thus arouses the sensation of the sublime. Here we enjoy, in Kant's words, "negative pleasure": "through the feeling of a momentary inhibition of the vital forces and the more intense outpouring of them immediately following this" ./ 34 /

What does aesthetic experience mean? First of all, that ethnographers stay out of the debate about what lens be beautiful. Its subject is phenomena associated with certain dimensions of human practice. The Greek aisthesis refers to sensual knowledge, as a unity of sensual perception and emotional evaluation. In this sense, the more recent aesthetic debate, on which the following considerations are based, regards "all processes of perception and knowledge ... as potentially aesthetic" ./ 35 / Gábor Paál, for example, is convinced

"that the aesthetic criteria by which we judge art are not fundamentally different from those used to judge landscapes, political events, scientific theories and everyday objects." / 36 /

That will have to be discussed; but as a heuristic premise for methodological penniless, the approach always seems helpful.

It is therefore about phenomena in the entire breadth of human, i.e. sensory perception - insofar as they meet two conditions. On the one hand, they are rated emotionally positive that is, they trigger pleasant sensations of satisfaction in the recipient; Kant speaks of "lust", Paál of "aesthetic euphoria" as a superordinate psychological state that positively marks feelings, affects, experiences./37/ Second, such perceptions are involuntarily and / and arbitrarily linked to formations of meaning: through memory, assignment of meaning, daydreaming Flight of imagination, generalization, comparison, etc.

According to this determination, only purely somatic pleasure sensations are excluded from the qualification as aesthetically relevant - but admittedly little else. This problem cannot be avoided if one chooses a subject-oriented approach (and something else would no longer be taken seriously after the constructivist turnaround): We do not regard beauty as a property or effect of objects, but translate the everyday expression "X is beautiful" in the analytically appropriate version "It's nice for me to experience X" ./ 38 / From this perspective, aesthetic experience is tied to a specific framing or contextualization by the perceiver: The perception is placed in a context that enables it to be rated as beautiful./39/ The appointment art, for example, creates such a context that even aesthetizes murder and violence; Frames such as "It's right for you", "It had to be like that" or "It's good that it didn't get us" make it possible to perceive the horror images of September 11, 2001 as beautiful. Such framing does not have to be done consciously; one can be 'overwhelmed, captivated' by something beautiful (however unsatisfactory the metaphor may be).

Paál suggests linking the specifics of aesthetic wellbeing to the awareness of "what we find beautiful and that we find it beautiful". To do this, one must have the idea of ​​a difference that distinguishes the positively assessed quality of the experience from another quality. His example: We only find a clean glass beautiful if we separate it from a dirty one./40/

As you can see, it is not easy for the mundane approach to differentiate aesthetic experiences from other phenomena of a perception that is perceived as pleasant. It will be seen whether the conditions of meaningfulness and awareness prove themselves heuristically. I'll take up the question again later. The category experience should first be discussed here.

As food for thought, how and why the ethnographic study of the aesthetic could focus on a certain type of experience, I use considerations of the pragmatic American philosopher John Dewey. His study "Art as Experience" / 41 / develops a decided counter-position to the traditional work-oriented aesthetic. Dewey also explored the question of what constitutes art; but he did not seek the answer in any object properties, but in the special quality of the experience that is made with objects of art and that actually constitutes them as such.

In his opinion, art can only be meaningfully spoken of when people have an experience of their own - not in the passive sense that something happens to someone, but in the active sense of experiencing as an activity, the product of which is the experience.Aesthetic experience is determined, among other things, by the fact that it protrudes and stands out from the daily routine; but nevertheless it remains connected with him, it does not belong to any completely different, separate area of ​​action and thought. This view is based on Dewey's understanding of pleasure as by no means trivial. Of course, there is also a pleasure in recognition and formal analysis. But this could not be a legitimate criterion for aesthetic enjoyment; because the primary goal of human endeavor is sensual and emotional satisfaction, not truth.

More concretely, Dewey characterizes aesthetic experience as a prominent and relatively closed unit of psychic sensations and activities. It has a cumulative character and strives for fulfillment by allowing oneself to be grasped and dynamically contributing. Energies and meanings are organized in the direction of integration and fulfillment, whereby a satisfactory quality of feeling must be given. Such an experience rises far beyond the threshold of perception; it is valued and sought for for its own sake. Their power makes it possible to disregard familiar meanings and thus overcome conventional boundaries.

There is no doubt that Dewey's approach has a vitalistic tinge; With the emphasis on energy, dynamism, integration and power-giving satisfaction, he aims at a form of aesthetic experience that is conceived as a life-enhancing compression and heightening of elementary life forces. Nevertheless, it opens one's eyes to the aesthetic moments in everyday life.

Arts and other beauties

The previous considerations have led to an extremely broad initial definition of aesthetic experience. That is unsatisfactory; At best, it can be accepted as setting the course for a meaningful definition that is not prepared to pay the price of the usual dubious preliminary decisions for alleged precision and distinctive character. The almost limitless opening up of the understanding of the aesthetic / 42 / would thus be temporarily legitimized as an instrument of methodological penniless; as little as possible should be excluded a priori - one can be smarter and stricter on a broader empirical basis. Two aspects of the problem are discussed in the following section. Does it make sense to consider popular arts and the representational environment (including one's own body) in equal measure? And how suitable is the classical Kantian proposal to limit the beautiful to relationships of disinterested pleasure?

If one strives a little for pennilessness and neglects one's own taste, it should not be difficult to accept all the achievements of all popular arts as potential objects of aesthetic experience. This includes the physical arts - dance, artistry, acting - a; their perception generates pleasure, is qualified as beautiful, and is to a high degree full of meaning. As with other arts, people who know the rules of the game and the conditions of production (that is, have an idea of ​​what skill a screw somersault or forty meter pass requires), feel pleasure and enthusiasm when they perform well; to build a bridge for opera lovers who are not familiar with the subject: like a brilliantly performed aria. And the body arts are integrated into a context of meaning that has been developed over centuries, in which, as in the drama, it is about basic experiences and socio-moral norms of human existence. "You have to be eleven friends" - the football discourse is a popular doctrine of virtues; and wisdoms such as "After the game is before the game", "The truth is on the square" or "God is round" are far more helpful today than classic phrases like Schiller's "The ax in the house saves the carpenter".

The fact that they are woven into a dense network of linguistic contexts of meaning and evaluation connects the body arts with the other recognized arts - and it marks the essential difference compared to the aesthetic relationships that we develop with things in our environment. What distinguishes the joy of a poem or a sporting activity from that of a beautifully drawn car, a wine full of finesse, a mountain panorama or the appearance of a person who effectively combines clothing and body styling? Does the difference lie 'in the matter' or in arbitrary habits of contextualization?

'Serious' as well as 'trivial' Arts make use of specific repertoires of expression - words, images, sequences of sounds, architectural forms, etc. - that have been accumulated over the course of human history. This applies equally to all tangible environmental design: fashion, toys, hairstyles, etc. The difference, however, is that arts can be defined by the fact that the culture in which this design method - arranging flowers, gardening, folding paper, fighting - is considered art, over millennia by means of special intellectual disciplines linguistic repertoire for their interpretation developed and canonized. The availability of the relevant codes - interpreting works, reading them in a meaningful way and communicating the interpretations verbally - constitutes the core of Western understanding of education; That we have a logocentric culture in which only a linguistically elaborated world relationship is legitimate becomes plausible here.

If we even ascribe a different - higher - quality of meaning to sitcoms, comics and pop hits than to the world of things and thus to reception a different - higher - aesthetic value, then this expresses the fact that the normal educated person is semiotically much worse equipped to deal with design of a consumer good, to decipher the qualities of clothing and cosmetics or of smell and taste in the details and to communicate about them in a differentiated manner. Experts have this competence - but their discourses are increasingly recognized as socially relevant knowledge. The continuing boom in seminars for wine and cheese connoisseurs or the massive interest in "designer items" (furniture, household appliances, clothing, accessories) point to this.

'But the lousiest daily soap is still about the question of how people should live - and even if you have a hundred expressions to describe a cheese, it's not about more than cheese!' The banause takes from the objection, first of all, how underdeveloped our culture is in terms of gastrosophy and philosophy of enjoyment; the German academic, including the cultural scientist, does not have Brillat-Savarin on his reading list. There is a great wealth of meaning in cheese - if you know how to perceive it accordingly; to speak of human work and its achievements, of relationships with nature, of the combinatorics of the taste variants, the history of the ability to enjoy and much more.

So you could also discuss the questions of the good life in cheese and chocolate, spoons and car bodies, apples and perfume. Western culture has so far considered such approaches to the human relationship to the world to be far less relevant than what experts think of Goethe's Heideröslein. But here a standard question from the empiricist arises: What about appropriation? How much of the semantic potential of a Mozart piano concerto or a Ruysdael landscape is called up in the current reception? Does the everyday person really have more content to say about it than about a taste experience?

In the interest of methodological penniless, I would like to question the conventional hierarchization of pleasure perceptions for a while and use the stimulus and challenge epithet 'aesthetic' to advance the exploration of the dimensions of meaning of what has been assigned to lower pleasures up to now. The conspicuous parallelism of the rise of popular art and 'beautiful things and experiences' in the course of the 20th century also speaks for the assumption of essential similarities in the respective hunger for beauty. So that the specifics of the two fields are not forgotten, one only needs to ask from time to time what actually constitutes the aesthetic experience of a well-made shoe.

Mixtures of pleasure

How do you recognize a good shoe? Perhaps because of it: The feet feel so comfortable in it that people feel happiness and euphoria. In order to clarify what this has to do with beauty, we turn to the crucial question of the commonplace approach. Kant discussed them by way of example: How does the beautiful differ from the 'only' sensually pleasant? It would be nothing more than a confusing fraudulent label if one wanted to portray everything that arouses pleasure or makes a 'good feeling' as an aesthetic experience.

In his analysis of the judgment of taste, Kant distinguishes three sources for the feeling of satisfaction, which he regards as a necessary condition for the existence of an aesthetic experience. What the Senses perceive as so appealing or satisfying that it becomes the subject of ours Desire becomes, Kant characterizes as merely pleasant, as something that we would like to use as a source of pleasure. What pleases us because it is our idea of ​​one reasonable order corresponds to the world and what we (would) like to see in reality is characterized by Kant as good. Both relationships have a quality that makes them "impure" in comparison to the beautiful: We have an interest in the real existence of the objects, they are the goal of our desire. The sensation of the beautiful, on the other hand, is "disinterested pleasure"; it relates solely to them idea of the subject; she is completely uninterested in its existence in reality or in possession, "contemplative" ./ 44 /

This distinction between the beautiful and the good and the pleasant is just as useful as it is remote from life - which does not mean a disqualification. Precisely because life is so mixed, impure, indissolubly mixed, one needs analytical effort to develop categories for naming and standards for evaluating the elements of the mixtum compositum without hesitating to do the real injustice. The application of these instruments in such a way that our understanding and our ability to judge human actions grow - without the illusion of ever doing justice to the individual case and without the imagination that the researcher has a better founded judgment than the actors of everyday life - that is then the matter of the ethnographer.

So: In the real aesthetic experience, normally the dimensions of what is pleasant, good and beautiful in the Kantian sense are all contained. What the everyday person qualifies as beautiful is in the rarest cases the subject of pure, disinterested pleasure in a mental image. Regardless of this, one should only speak of aesthetic desire if its object is an "idea" in the Kantian sense, a mental representation fed by sensory perception (regardless of whether it has a physical referent or not); and furthermore, the pleasant experience of this idea should be sought for its own sake, felt to be valuable and enjoyable in itself. So far Kant is to be followed, in the sense of a necessary condition of the aesthetic. This element must be recognizable in the complex experience of the beautiful - one should just not ask that the living experience be limited to this ethereal dimension.

The empirical pleasure at fist It is difficult to purify from the fact that we fantasize about the enjoyment of the experience opportunities gained with the devil's pact, and probably also not from the pleasant feeling of our own morality when we are outraged about the betrayal of Gretchen. You can try to calculate that out analytically, but I see no reason to condemn real, 'everyday' appropriation as not aesthetic - even if the Blocksberg scene may trigger sexual sensations.

On the other hand, there is certainly disinterested pleasure in everyday life. A colorful sunset is enjoyed purely as a spectacle; the sun no longer warms, and neither does one want to own the event. The same goes for the joy of a vase at home; it applies only to the figure that triggers neither sensual pleasure nor moral judgments. "But what is beautiful, it seems blissful to himself," wrote Mörike, "On a lamp" (!). The boundlessness of the human imagination (without which there is no aesthetic experience for Kant) is responsible for the fact that art, even in the ascetic form of a written text, sets the capacity for desire in spontaneous movement: how much we would like to experience the adventures described, the closeness of the enchanting Heroine, enjoy the fascinating hero; and if we do not continually make moral judgments that treat what is described like reality, there would be little left of the pleasure of reading. / 45 /

It has its logic that Kant himself comes to the conclusion that the natural beauty, a tulip for example, best meets his definition./46/ He wants to provide analytics with precise instruments, not give marks to the real handling of art and the physical environment. It therefore seems realistic to accept aesthetic experience in a wide spectrum of everyday object relationships. This includes pure, even contemplative pleasure in the shape of what is presented / 47 / as well as mixtures in which the joy of the - fictional - restored good order of the world or the well-being that the message of the taste buds in the brain can feel are in the foreground stand. And the mixed is in no way to be considered less, because it forms the normal case.

One of Paals's thoughts seems helpful to me here. He differentiates between elementary and cognitive aesthetics. It remains to be seen whether the latter is a helpful term in our context; the elementary aesthetic perceptions are important here. These are sensations of pleasure that are based on the vegetative, i.e. involuntary, effect of stimuli./48/ We react positively to brightness and sun, but rather negatively to gray and dark. Symmetry arouses our pleasure, as do certain body proportions and facial expressions (laughing, childlike schema) in humans. Homo sapiens sapiens likes open park landscapes, he has to be brought up to have positive feelings for the rugged mountain world. There is a range of tone frequencies and chords that Central Europeans find pleasant, and all of them share a sweet tooth. Some of these affective stimulus-response patterns are evolutionarily acquired and genetically fixed, / 49 / others are culturally produced and anchored in fixed habits.

Such perceptions are aesthetic insofar as we perceive them to be beautiful. They are elementary insofar as they largely lack the meaning dimension. Emphasized symmetry of an object or the taste of a candy lift our mood without us necessarily associating it with any meaning. The can be the case, think of Proust's Madeleine. But while darkness has to be contextualized accordingly so that it can be perceived with pleasure, brightness delights us from the outset.

Paál puts the elementary aesthetic sensation on a level with basic affects such as fear, anger or sexual arousal. He characterizes the feeling of beauty going beyond this - i.e. the central object of everyday aesthetic research - as a complex "meta-emotion" / 50 / that goes far beyond stimulus-reaction processes, combines reflective, semiotic and judgmental dimensions with emotional wellbeing./51 / Everyday aesthetic perception often includes elementary aesthetics; Such mechanisms are often used in factories that have established themselves as classic. One can understand this analytically as the level of purely sensual pleasure; empirically, however, there is hardly any elementary aesthetic in isolation, without a cultural context, without a charge of meaning.

Gerhard Schulze convincingly stated that physical sensations form the basis of aesthetic experience; Only they make our emotions tangible, making them reflexively accessible and mentally processable. From this point of view, pleasure or pleasure (Kant's "pleasant") are not to be thought of as purely somatic phenomena; What we perceive as physically pleasant is integrated into an (first of all) "individual semantic cosmos", which helps to determine the quality of experience of every perception.

"The realm of the senses is a resonance space for the spiritual." "Sensual experiences are only perceived as pleasurable in connection with memories, fantasies, future expectations, interpretations and similar cognitive ingredients. [...] For the beautiful experience, the sensually perceived attributes of the situation (colors, noises, movements) are only raw materials which the subject puts together an experience figure. Only through an abundance of cognitive networks does the concrete become aesthetically significant. "/ 52 /

The considerations of Paál and Schulze do not make it easier to determine a 'lower limit' of aesthetic experience compared to what is 'only pleasant'.In terms of definition, it can be drawn where the feeling of well-being lacks any reflective dimension, any attribution of meaning or any associative connection. The sexual climax, the epitome of sensual pleasure, then did not belong to the aesthetic experiences (but it was the appropriation of erotic art). Empirically, this only gives us the starting position of starting from an extremely broad spectrum of aesthetic experiences in everyday life, which in the finest gradations and an infinitely diverse mix combines elementary aesthetic with more complex sensations of beauty / 53 /./54/

In short: ethnographic research will not aim to separate real from fake or legitimate from illegitimate aesthetic experience in everyday life; it will seek to illuminate the mixtures of pleasure and their practical production by people, the contribution of the striving for beauty to the motives for action and its place in the ideas of a successful, satisfying existence - in the "project of a beautiful life" ./ 55 /

Beauty through work?

The same principle - to approach the mixed aesthetic experiences with sharp analytical tools, but not to cut what is inextricably interwoven in life - also seems appropriate from a further point of view, which according to the prevailing understanding excludes everyday people from legitimate aesthetic experience. It is about the concentration on the aesthetic object, about the intensive (co-) work on the development of the beautiful in all its complexity; without focused mental effort - so the mainstream of the theory - one cannot speak of aesthetic experience sensu strictu. Since this is undoubtedly rarely the case in everyday life, from this point of view the subject would be closed.

The argument will be less plausible to anyone who strives for methodological penniless. He will ask why the work-like or contemplative reception, which at best represents the normal way of dealing with the beautiful for professional critics and monks, should form the only legitimate model of aesthetic experience; Every foreign and self-observation confirms that the majority of the concert, theater and exhibition audience does not meet this requirement and should therefore be expelled from the temple of aesthetic orthodoxy. Which concert-goer listens to a four-movement piece with constant attention and follows the structure based on the score? The work in its complexity demands this - and yet classical and romantic compositions also convey extraordinary pleasure to listeners whose thoughts wander in between. That is why the banause will propose a heuristic model here as well, which takes into account the practical shading and the alternation of concentration and intensity of aesthetic attention.

I take up a consideration that Hans-Otto Hügel developed in the context of his theory of entertainment / 56 /. Everyday person (also as a concert-goer or novel reader) practices dealing with art and the designed environment as a communicative relationship that follows certain agreements to which both sides adjust; their intensity moves within a continuum that is delimited by two poles. On the one hand, there is what Hügel calls distraction: a shower with irrelevant offers - with images, sounds, impressions that are not given any meaning, that only dispel emptiness and are therefore outside of any aesthetic relationship. At the other pole (here I am leaving Hügel's model) is the ideal of undivided, analytically oriented concentration on the structures of an object, a concentration that is required not to let up before the core of the work has been tapped. This - professional - attitude is also outside the aesthetic experience in everyday life.

That lies in the broad field in between. It can allow objects to come close to them almost existentially or keep them at a distance that makes them almost meaningless. In the aesthetic relationship of everyday life, we mostly hold ourselves confidently in the balance between seriousness and not seriousness. We decide / 57 / how intensively we take in which aspects of what is offered, for how long, when we disengage and at what distance we keep a possible aesthetic experience, what significance we accord to what we have appropriated for our self-image and worldview.

Whether the reception, which oscillates in its urgency and opposes the offerings of meaning by a distance, is satisfactory, however, is not independent of the character of what is offered. What is tailored to everyday reception, whether divertimento, Hollywood film or a well-designed everyday object, has a texture that conveys enjoyment even with changing attention.

Conventional, western aesthetic theory honors a reception that is ultimately subordinate to the logic and structure of the work and is measured against the most extensive possible reconstruction. Even if there is no longer just one reading as legitimate and the contribution of the appropriator in the construction of meaning as indispensable - from this point of view there is a demand for complexity oriented towards the potential of the work that must not be missed. In contrast to this, the philistine emphasizes the dimensions of freedom, sovereignty and distance of the modern everyday person from the object of aesthetic experience. For example, she doesn't want to miss an episode of a series; she makes herself comfortable in front of the television and fends off any disturbance; but their divided attention for a film in which only the emotional climax is perceived more intensely does not stand outside the spectrum of aesthetic experiences. Every now and then he deliberately delights in the elegance of the new seating area - and yet is not untouched by its beauty when he uses it with the reduced attention of everyday life as part of the home furnishings.

'Aesthetic experience in everyday life' is therefore not a blanket subsumption category that constituted the - even if only provisional - end of cultural studies analysis. Rather, the concept opens up an investigation program that focuses on the differentiation and interplay of different modes of experience.

Experience through the body

Finally, one aspect should be addressed which, in addition to the more flexible treatment of concentration and analytics, marks perhaps the most important difference between everyday appropriation of beauty and the norms on which the legitimate model of aesthetic experience is based. Taking up a concept from the ethnologist Jacques Maquet, I would like to consider the specific "aesthetic locus" of everyday contact with the beautiful. Maquet assumes that practically all things around us also have aesthetic relevance. But in every society there are categories of objects on which aesthetic expectations and practices are concentrated; he describes it as the historically and culturally changing aesthetic locus. In the European High Middle Ages it was determined by all things related to Christian ritual: the churches and their pictorial decorations as well as chasubles and reliquaries. In 16th century Japan, the tea ceremony was the aesthetic locus for garden design and teahouse architecture, for the design of utensils such as the robes worn during the ceremony. It was not until the 18th century that the "institution of art" (Peter Brückner) was elevated to the aesthetic locus of Western European societies./58/

According to the thesis, the aesthetic locus of late-modern western societies now encompasses those things and practices that enable physical and body-related experiences; / 59 / This applies in particular to everyday aesthetics, but is also unmistakable as a trend towards 'high art'. The centrality of body-mediated experience marks the fundamental difference to a theory of the beautiful, which privileges an intellectually accessible semantic potential of the aesthetic object and corresponding modes of experience. In the words of Gernot Böhme:

"Seen as a whole, the previous aesthetics is not aesthetics, that is, sensuality is neglected in it. It is not a theory of sensual experience, but of intellectual judgment. This means in particular that human corporeality has no place in it." 60 /

The approach based on the physical and body-related dimensions of aesthetic experience is almost imposing when we consider the extraordinary increase in 'beautiful things' in the world of life. The model of cognitively mediated experience does not do justice to the contexts of perception and effect, the home furnishings and objects of daily use, clothing and body styling, flowers and a 'beautiful view'. Suggestions as to how aesthetic experience should be thought differently, less head and reason-oriented, can be found by the phenomenologist Hermann Schmitz and Gernot Böhme, who further developed his approaches in the sense of an ecological, i.e. environmental and space-related, aesthetic. The basic idea is:

"... the human being must essentially be thought of as a body, ie in such a way that he is originally spatial in his self-givenness, his feeling of himself: To feel himself bodily means to feel how I am in an environment, how I feel here . "/ 61 /

The human being as a body necessarily experiences himself in spaces, the gestalt qualities of which "intervene in the affective concern of sentient beings through bodily communication" ./ 62 /

Gernot Böhme put Schmitz's concept of "atmospheres" at the center of his theory. He regards material properties, e.g. the blue color of a cup, as "something that radiates to the surroundings ..., this environment sounds in a certain way". The same applies to expansion and volume; These qualities of a thing are "outwardly noticeable, give weight and orientation to the space of its presence." / 63 / Atmospheres are spaces experienced by humans, specifically toned by the presence of things with special qualities. They "belong to subjects insofar as they are felt by people in their physical presence". / 64 / This feeling of "moods" that touch, evoke, influence and direct human feelings is an essential element of aesthetic experience in everyday life. And the practical knowledge of how synaesthetic thing qualities (the interaction of material, color, haptics, plastic shape, surface treatment) create infinitely differentiated atmospheres is part of the know-how of aesthetic work that has accumulated over thousands of years ./65/

"Perceiving," said Gernot Böhme once again, "is basically the way in which one is physically with something, is with someone or is in surroundings. The primary one object of perception are [...] the atmospheres, on the background of which something like objects, shapes, colors, etc. are then differentiated through the analytical view. "/ 66 /

The idea should not only sound sympathetic to the methodological monotony, but also to every European ethnologist, as it correlates with the cultural-anthropological preference for contexts, situations, complex interactions compared to isolated individual objects. Perhaps another point to be noted here: Everyday aesthetic experience primarily relates to complex, synaesthetic constellations of perception. Red plush, gold and white in the concert hall, chosen clothes and of course snacks and champagne in the foyer are not external to the experience of the music; Snacks, alcoholic beverages and popcorn first constitute television thrillers and action films as objects of an ethnography of the aesthetic. / 67 / Perhaps one day in science it will be said: What a trivialist - he talks about them Buddenbrookswithout understanding anything about the chocolate that goes with reading!

However, we are now cautious about the holistic tendencies of ethnosciences. In this case, too, rightly so: the socialization of people in European modernism meanwhile includes the development of a specialized aesthetic sense in accordance with the aesthetics of the work; Most of them have the appropriate knowledge and skills and distinguish between artists, styles, schools and painting styles (however rudimentary). In the genres of modern popular arts, many have considerable factual knowledge, but also knowledge of historical developments. From this follows: The reproduction on the wall, the song on the radio, the film from the DVD / 68 / or the vase on the decorative shelf are not only elements of an atmosphere, but also potential objects of individual attention to individual objects. But even in this dimension, the body and body-mediated perception play a key role.

Popular art as body art

Anyone who has been shaken by a Sensurround thunderstorm, who has felt the bass from the neighboring apartment in their stomach, who (when the supervisory staff looked away) despite the ban, followed the inviting curves of a plastic with their hands, who was watching a fast-cut film sequence on the big screen got dizzy / 69 /, not to mention the experiences in dance, disco and rave, the stage show and stadium feeling, he knows the intense body reference of modern popular arts. I just want to present two research approaches that could be helpful for expanding the thesis.

Using the development in the USA, Winfried Fluck worked out the dynamic that led to the increasing "embodiment of aesthetic experience" / 70 / in popular culture. He follows the change in the mechanisms of action in the most widespread arts, from the early 19th century novels to dime novels, vaudeville, silent films and sound / color films to pop music, video clips and genres, whose attractiveness primarily relates to action and special effects is based. What presents itself as a reduction of complexity from the point of view of canon aesthetics opens up "completely new possibilities of artistic expression and aesthetic experience" from the reception perspective ./ 71 /

In order for an aesthetic experience to be made, the recipients must follow the specifications of the work by means of your own imagination and emotional potential 'translate'. This enables

"To articulate imaginary parts of our own world of ideas and feelings and, on the other hand, to 'externalize' them in the fictional world of the aesthetic object and thus make them representable and visual." / 72 /

The less the texts specify narrative structures and cognitive, semantically complex elements, the freer the recipient is to incorporate his "interiority" into the appropriation, i.e. elements of his world of ideas and feelings that have not yet been articulated (especially not linguistically). The externalization of interiority and the exploration of it in this process became, according to Fluck, the most important source of aesthetic experience in the history of popular arts. By reducing the elements elaborated in terms of words and images in the specification on the way from language-determined to image and music-determined genres, from melody-dominated to rhythm- and sound-dominated music, from listening to dancing, the space for 'imaginative self-empowerment' was expanded / 73 /; in particular, the proportion of the physical and bodily related grew. Body-oriented pop music and the sounds for the current dance scenes no longer make any cognitive demands at all./74/ Their effect is not linked to the linguistically represented meaning formation by the recipient, it is based on moods and bodily reactions.

Aesthetic experience is characterized here, for example, by "short-term evocation of decontextualized ideas" and "diffuse feelings of delimitation of the body". / 75 / In the 'translation' by the user, more and more body-related things are incorporated, and the gratifications of appropriation are increasingly embodied. This is most evident in pop music and dance, but it also determines the aesthetics of global success genres such as action, SF, horror. The fact that people are seriously considering not only moving the cinema seats to certain scenes and thus expanding the film experience into the physical, but also specifically releasing fragrances, shows the direction of embodiment.

Lust out of liveliness

The question of the body as an aesthetic locus arises even more fundamentally in a field of research that asks about the somatic correspondences to the experience of enjoying the beautiful. We can also define pleasure in neurobiological terms - a broad field for methodological banality. I am referring to an approach that is based on the behavioral and developmental psychological concept of "functional pleasure" (Gehlen). / 76 / When people (like other higher living beings) use their psychophysical apparatus to cope with environmental challenges, euphoric messenger substances are created in the brain distributed, which motivate to repeat or increase the corresponding functions. We enjoy the effective, successful use of our potential.

This pleasure can also be striven for as such, as a 'reward' for psychophysical activity that has no external purpose. From an evolutionary point of view, this makes perfect sense; it increased the chances of survival to train one's abilities even when they were not required by an emergency. In the development of human beings, a number of culturally formed fields grew out of this, in which activities were 'organized' without any external purpose in order to operate the psychophysical apparatus and to feel the somatically perceived enjoyment of the exercise: play, but also forms of exercise increased sensual perception (which is not a passive acceptance of impressions, but active generation of meaningful information from the flood of data from the sensory organs). Hausmanninger speaks in this context of the pleasure that

"in the enjoyment of psychophysical activity as an activity, in the excitement as such, the energetic state of ourselves in itself", of the "pleasure in our vitality" / 77 /.

Here, from a scientific point of view, an essential source for what is understood by terms such as enjoyment or pleasure as a necessary element of aesthetic experience could be located. It is precisely the relative uselessness, the release from the actions necessary for survival, that allows us to concentrate on generating the enjoyment of the effective, elegant, successful use of our psychophysical faculties - and dealing with the beautiful is a suitable field to feel our being alive, to enjoy and so increase. That would have to be discussed in detail for the spectrum of aesthetic experiences; I am picking out two aspects here.

Psychological research on the effects of media shows that we are mistaken if we consider the 'consumption' of media to be an act of sensual perception that involves more physical Connected with passivity. We suppress the fact that tension increases our pulse rate, that we work up a sweat in situations that threaten the hero, that we activate the muscles that we use to drive a car for a chase, etc. - and all of this while we seemingly calm in the Read a story in bed or watch a movie in the TV armchair. The desire for corresponding genres, so the consequence of the psychologists, is the desire to function from the processing of sensorimotor stimuli, which are referred to as psychosomatic arousal and which we enjoy. For this dimension of aesthetic pleasure, it makes no difference whether we fight with Lara Croft or tremble with Effie Briest.

A second point of view: Our inner nature apparently rewards complex cognitive performances with sensations of pleasure. And it probably makes no difference whether we have just heard and interpreted a Wagnerian leitmotif or whether we have succeeded in identifying a dry white wine as a Riesling from Rhineland-Hesse and not from Württemberg.

Of course: culture means that people make distinctions - even where nature does not. Therefore, we can value the ability to recognize compositions by Wagner and Meyerbeer more than knowledge of wine. But modern Western culture includes the knowledge of the arbitrariness and revisability of such evaluations - and these commonplace considerations plead for nothing other than the sensitization of such knowledge.


1 Rudolf Arnheim: On the psychology of art. Cologne 1977, p. 23 f.
2 Mathilde Kelchner / Ernst Lau: The Berlin youth and crime literature. An investigation based on essays by young people (= supplements to the journal for applied psychology, No. 42). Leipzig 1928, p. 28.
3 In the following, aesthetic refers to everything that relates to the beautiful in everyday language.
4 Alfred Gell: The technology of enchantment and the enchantment of technology. In: Ders .: The Art of Anthropology. London 1999, pp. 159-186.
5 Peter Berger: The Social Reality of Religion. Harmondsworth 1967.
6 I would like to thank the participants in the seminar "Aestheticization of the Lifeworld", who, as committed discussion partners, helped me to clarify the thoughts outlined here.
7 Media Perspektiven Basic data: Data on the media situation in Germany in 2003. Frankfurt / M. 2003, pp. 64, 68.
8 Gernot Böhme: atmosphere. Essays on the new aesthetic. Frankfurt / M. 1995, p. 23.
9 The social and cultural anthropological "Material Culture Studies" have shown that consumer goods can contain complex social and cultural meanings; Of course, this also needs to be considered when making the selection. Their aesthetic potentials, if mentioned at all, are only viewed as a means for messages to others, never as a source of specific enjoyment for the consumer himself. See Mary Douglas / Baron Isherwood: The World of Goods. Towards an Anthropology of Consumption. New York 1979; Arjun Appadurai (ed.): The Social Life of Things. Commodities in Cultural Perspective. Cambridge 1986; Daniel Miller: Consumption Studies as the Transformation of Anthropology. In: Ders. (Ed.): Acknowledging Consumption. London 1995, pp. 264-295. The argument also applies to the other groundbreaking works by Daniel Miller and Pierre Bourdieu: The subtle differences. Critique of Social Judgment. Frankfurt / M. 1982.
10 See URL www.bildschirmschoner.de
11 My first one was gray, like a work smock, the second already strong blue, the third showed a poster motif, the fourth allows me to slide pictures myself into a removable frame - and then I stepped out of the beautification spiral.
12 See URL www.machsmit.de
13 Karl Heinz Bohrer: The Limits of the Aesthetic. In. Wolfgang Welsch (ed.): The topicality of the aesthetic. Munich 1993, pp. 48-64.
14 Wolfgang Welsch: Aesthetics and Anesthetics. In. Ders .: aesthetic thinking. Stuttgart 41995, pp. 9-40.
15 Böhme, Atmosphere [see note 8], p. 64.
16 For a criticism of this attitude see also Gerhard Schulze: Die Erlebnisgesellschaft. Contemporary cultural sociology. Frankfurt / M. 1992, p. 105.
17 Cf. a whole series of articles in Kaspar Maase / Wolfgang Kaschuba (eds.): Trash and Beauty. Popular culture around 1900. Cologne 2001.
18 Heinrich Wolgast: The importance of art for education. Leipzig 1903, p. 4. - The fact that around 1900 people were open to the aesthetic dimensions of industrial-modern, urban everyday life is indicated by essayistic works by the Viennese folklorist Michael Haberlandt, which were collected under the title "Cultur des Alltags" . Just read the cultural-historical feuilletons on "Art of Reclame" and on the "dazzling arts of fireworks" (Vienna 1900, pp. 52-60, 118-125; cit. Pp. 55, 118).
19 Schulze [see note 16], p. 39.
20 This shows a parallel to Schulze's antipode Bourdieu, whose analysis of the "subtle differences" pursues the "'barbaric' reintegration of aesthetic into the realm of ordinary consumption"; see Bourdieu [see note 9], p. 26.
In this case too, Bruno Latour's finding that we have never been modern seems to apply; see B.L .: We have never been modern. Berlin 1995.
22 Cf. Marshall Sahlins: The Sadness of Sweetness. The Native Anthropology of Western Cosmology. In: Current Anthropology 37, 1996, pp. 395-428.
23 A speaking example of the "tendency towards hostility to the senses" (Welsch) that is inherent in the German Protestant tradition of aesthetic thought is the refusal to recognize the colored version of classical Greek sculptures and buildings, based on Winckelmann's idealizations (despite the meanwhile overwhelming archaeological findings). See Michael Siebler: Noble simplicity, colorful greatness. In: FAZ, Dec. 17, 2003.
24 Gerhard Schulze [as note 16, p. 108] points out that the downside of the restricted linguistic articulation of the beautiful is the direct physical-mental evidence of the experience of beauty. In this way, the feeling of enjoyment, pleasure, strong feelings gains "outstanding theoretical importance" - because it is such states of feeling good that everyday life is oriented.
25 W.F.H .: Critique of the aesthetics of goods. Frankfurt / M. 1971.
26 Gernot Böhme: aesthetics. Lectures on aesthetics as a general theory of perception. Munich 2001, p. 183; John Dewey: Art as Experience. Frankfurt / M. 1980 [EA 1934], p. 13, 25. Cf. also Böhme: Atmosphere [see note 8], p. 56.
27 Silke Göttsch / Albrecht Lehmann (ed.): Methods of Folklore. Positions, sources, working methods of European ethnology. Berlin 2001; Rolf W. Brednich (ed.): Ground plan of folklore. Introduction to the research fields of European ethnology. Berlin 32001, cit. P. 251.
28 Helge Gerndt: About the aesthetic component in cultural studies. In: Schweizerisches Archiv für Volkskunde 98, 2002, pp. 249-258, quoted on p. 249. The essay itself then also follows the avoidance strategy in that it deals with the aesthetic dimension of science.
29 Heinz Schilling: petty bourgeois. Mentality and lifestyle. Frankfurt / M. 2003, p. 151.
30 exceptions are Schulze [see note 16], for example pp. 283-291, 475-478, 515-517, and Rainer Dollase / Michael Rüsenberg / Hans J. Stollenwerk: Demoskopie im Konzertaal. Mainz 1986.
31 I see such a line of argument in Richard Shusterman: Pragmatist Aesthetics. Living Beauty, Rethinking Art. Cambridge, Mass., 1992 [abbreviated German edition: Art live. The aesthetics of pragmatism. Frankfurt / M. 1994] and Thomas J. Roberts: An Aesthetics of Junk Fiction. Athens, GA, 1990.
32 That is, aesthetic experience is broader; it includes everything that is negatively qualified as ugly, as to be avoided.
33 All people are everyday people from an aesthetic point of view if they do not deal with objects and forms of aesthetic experience in professional reflection. In this sense, immersion or exertion are definitely everyday modes of experience. What is meant in the sense of the phenomenological lifeworld theory is a complex of "cognitive styles" that are clearly differentiated from those of work-like and reflexive knowledge-oriented occupation. In dreams and games, entertainment and ecstasy, experience and recognition are linked in a different way than in school learning, in scientific research or in critical art reception. - Cf. Richard Grathoff: Milieu and Lebenswelt. Introduction to phenomenological sociology and social phenomenological research. Frankfurt / M. 1989, pp. 108-110. Fundamental are the explanations of different "styles of experience and knowledge" in Alfred Schütz / Thomas Luckmann: Structures of the lifeworld. Frankfurt / M. 1979, especially pp. 48-63.
34 Immanuel Kant: Critique of Judgment [Works, ed. Weischedel, Vol. X]. Frankfurt / M. 1995, §§ 23-25, cit. Pp. 166, 165.
35 Gábor Paál: What is beautiful? Aesthetics and Knowledge. Würzburg 2003, p. 9.
36 Ibid., P. 8.
37 Ibid., P. 31.
38 Ibid., P. 15.
39 See ibid., Pp. 20-23.
40 Ibid., Pp. 15, 36.
41 As note 26.
42 Attempts to determine the aesthetic from a bioscientific point of view, from behavioral to brain research, all point in this direction. Cf. next to Paál [see note 35] for example Klaus Richter: The origin of the beautiful. Basics of evolutionary aesthetics. Mainz 1999.
43 Cf. Jürgen Dollase: With best regards to those who are infallible. Why the art of cooking is not yet counted among high culture. In. FAZ, Oct. 8, 2003, p. 40.
44 Kant [see note 34], §§ 2-5.
45 On the empirical basis of aesthetic experience in fictional reading, see for example Janice A. Radway: Reading the Romance. Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature. Chapel Hill 1984; Werner Graf: The experience of reading happiness. On the life story development of reading motivation. In: Alfred Bellebaum / Ludwig Muth (eds.): Reading luck. A forgotten experience? Opladen 1996, pp. 181-211; Corinna Pette: Psychology of reading novels. Reading strategies for the subjective appropriation of a literary text. Weinheim 2001.
46 See Kant [as note 34], § 16.
47 This is the core of Jacques Maquet's understanding of (visual) aesthetic experience: The Aesthetic Experience. An Anthropologist Looks at the Visual Arts. New Haven 1986.
48 See Paál [see note 35], pp. 7, 26-30, 34-37. The distinction goes back to Wolfgang Welsch: Ästhet / hik. Ethical Implications and Consequences of Aesthetics. In: Christoph Wulf / Dietmar Kamper / Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht (eds.): Ethics of Aesthetics. Berlin 1994, pp. 3-22.
49 See Richter with many examples [see note 42]. In this context, Arnold Gehlen's considerations on a "'Physiology of Art" "should be included, briefly summarized in Gerhard Plumpe: Aesthetic Communication of Modernity. Vol. 2: From Nietzsche to the present. Opladen 1993, pp. 191-193. Gehlen emphasizes that these are gestalt qualities that stand out from the specific environment through their "'improbable' trigger qualities".
50 Paál [see note 35], p. 27.
51 Welsch: Ästhet / hik [as note 48] determines the higher level of aesthetic experience through the reflective dimension of perception; it aims at purer knowledge, independent of the involuntary feelings of pleasure or displeasure, and is rewarded by "the pleasure of a reflexive pleasure or displeasure" (p. 5). From the perspective of empirical research, however, one will probably not work with a binary distinction - reflexive / non-reflexive; but have to do with a gradual increase in the reflexivity that was already mentioned in the (pronounced or only imagined) comment "Oh how beautiful!" works and which is able to erect an infinite number of floors of meta-reflection on every sensual pleasure sensation (I enjoy watching myself as I am pleased to have recognized that there is also a leather note to be found in the taste of red wine).
52 Schulze [see note 16], p. 107.
53 Paál [as in note 35] suggests a stimulating system according to which dimensions of aesthetic perception could be differentiated.
54 For western modernity one has to assume that the area of ​​the everyday aesthetics defined here will continuously expand; not primarily because of the increase in possible objects, but above all because modernity is an expansion of reflexivity. Modern individuality is self-reflective [cf. about Richard van Dülmen: The Discovery of the Individual 1500-1800. Frankfurt / M. 1997], and the disappearance of the matter-of-course with the expansion of reflection pervades the habitus and everyday life of the western world inexorably. The self-observation of what we are feeling and what it could mean, and the active self-care about systematically increasing the pleasant states, leave less and less elementary aesthetic experiences unreflected and without any meaning.
55 The strict Kant [as note 34] himself made a suggestion as to how the taste judgment could take into account the fact that it is practically so difficult for us to consider the mere form alone - since, for example, every perception of people is shaped by an idea of perfection based on an ideal of human existence. Here only an "applied taste judgment" is possible, which refers to the "attached" as opposed to "free beauty". See § 16.
56 Hans-Otto Hügel: Aesthetic ambiguity of entertainment. A sketch of their theory. In: montage / av, 2nd year 1993, no. 1, pp. 119-141, cit. Pp. 128, 129. See also Ders .: Art. "Entertainment". In: Ders. (Ed.): Handbuch Popular Kultur. Stuttgart 2003, pp. 73-82.
57 It goes without saying that the classic arguments that must be taken into account here are that after a high level of physical or nervous stress, the receptivity is limited and that mental work offers better conditions for aesthetic reception skills overall. And there is no question that works can touch, grasp, overwhelm us without or even against our will. In this respect too, however, an ethnographic review is required.
58 Maquet [see note 47], p. 69 f.
59 Body and body are used as homonyms in the following. For a further discussion, however, the Plessner distinction would be important, according to which man is body and has body at the same time. The "eccentric positionality" makes it possible to behave reflexively towards one's own corporeality (also to develop it as an instrument for aesthetic expression and enjoyment), and at the same time has to recognize the fundamental unavailability of the body. See, for example, Helmuth Plessner: Laughing and Weeping. An investigation into the limits of human behavior. Bern 1961, especially pp. 41-50.
60 Böhme: Aisthetik [see note 26], p. 30 f.
61 Böhme: Atmosphere [see note 8], p. 31.
62 Hermann Schmitz: The body, the space and the feelings. Ostfildern 1998, p. 95. Schmitz impressively develops living here as a "culture of feelings in an enclosed space" (p. 84).
63 Böhme: Atmosphere [see note 8], pp. 32, 33.
64 Ibid., P. 34.
65 A car, for example, is designed for all the senses today: the sound of the doors, the haptic impression of the steering wheel, the smell of the plastics are planned by engineers in addition to the shapes. Cf. Ina Reckziegel: The nose also decides. Smell and feel as sales-promoting arguments. In: FAZ, Aug. 12, 2003; Siegfried Stadler: Sounds like lilies of the valley. The smell awakens the old images: multisensual design is taught in Halle. In: ibid., Aug. 9, 2002. - Consumer research predicts: "The multisensual influencing of consumers ... will play a far greater role in the future than before" (Werner Kroeber-Riel / Peter Weinberg: Consumer behavior. Munich 82003, P. 124).
66 Böhme: Atmosphere [see note 8], p. 47 f .; Emphasis in orig.
67 Cf. for example on the meaning of "warmth" as a quality of the living environment Karla Scherf: Living environment as part of the everyday world and aesthetic culture. In: University of the Arts Berlin - Subject group design science (ed.): Life forms. Berlin 1991, pp. 103-120, here p. 111; see also Brigitta Schmidt-Lauber: Gemütlichkeit. A cultural studies approach. Frankfurt / M. 2003, especially pp. 209-215.
68 Their contribution to reflection, sovereignty and technical ability to criticize in everyday aesthetic experience through the large amount of additional information, variants, and access options would be worth a study.
69 Cf. Christian Mikunda: Feel the cinema. Emotional Filmmaking Strategies. Munich 1986.
70 Winfried Fluck: California Blue. Americanization as Self-Americanization [unpublished. Mskrpt., Appears in: Ute Bechdolf / Reinhard Johler / Horst Tonn (eds.): Globalization and Americanization. Trier 2004], p. 20. Hans Otto Hügel warns against overestimating the physical in popular culture with good arguments: Approaches to popular culture. For their aesthetic justification and for their research. In: Udo Göttlich / Winfried Gebhardt / Clemens Albrecht (ed.): Popular culture as representative culture. Cologne 2002, pp. 52-78.
71 Fluck [see note 70], p. 12.
72 Ibid., P. 17.
73 Fluck speaks of "imaginary self-empowerment", but "imaginative" seems to me to be more appropriate to his argument.
74 That doesn't mean that lyrics didn't play a role in pop music. In the body-oriented genres, however, they are not necessary for aesthetic enjoyment; as in any richer work of art, they open up an additional layer for a more complex, more intellectually reflective aesthetic experience. Why can't genres that enable overwhelming experiences on a level such as the physical (or in the build-up of tension, moods, etc.) stand alongside those that primarily offer intellectual pleasure? If there is to be a hierarchy, my suggestion would be: The greatest works are those that offer great potential for experience and discovery on many levels, from those directly accessible to everyday people to the most sophisticated intertextual structural analysis.
75 Fluck [see note 70], p. 21.
76 The following according to Thomas Hausmanninger: On the individual pleasure and lifeworld purpose of the use of violent films. In: Ders./Thomas Bohrmann (ed.): Medial violence. Interdisciplinary and ethical perspectives. Munich 2002, pp. 231-259.
77 Ibid., P. 233.