Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Aesthetic Indulgence

Originally posted on October 28, 2010

My latest notion—I tend to have them fairly frequently—is that Freud was somewhat right but didn’t dig deep enough. He reduced the motivation system to sexuality because of its forbiddenness at the time, but I’ve been thinking as I’ve grown older about other deep motivations. For example, what about the small griefs I’ve had about changing technology? Modern change machines have made it unnecessary to roll up coins in little packages. Regulations plus technology have made the rolling-up ritual obsolete, but losing this small ritual evoked a tiny pang of grief. There was something sweet and righteous about doing a little job well, sort of saving up my pennies (literally). It was child-like and comforting. The grown-up part said, ah, well, situations evolve, or some such platitude, but the inner child sighed and whined, awwww, I’ll miss it.

Being somewhat introspective, my inner witness noticed this little blip in my psyche, just a curious bump on the highway of evolving technology, growing older, etc., and wondered why the grief? That little enjoyment of coin-rolling and packing in the paper rolls, what was that? Was it masturbatory, auto-erotic? I found no connection with the genital, and then it occurred to me that in the realm of mind, anything can be reduced to anything—sex to power strivings, either of them to archetypal patterns—it’s all permeable, mushy; so the real question is what formulation is most useful today? I think the concept “aesthetic indulgence” includes a far broader set of behaviors and impulses—includes sex in all its flavors, and power-competence needs (Adler), and other activities that still serve this source of good feeling without having to be subjected to the Procrustean bed of an unnecessarily biasing framework. My coffee in the morning, enjoying writing out and expressing ideas (and seeing them there on paper—or in this case, on the computer screen), a walk in the morning air, and so forth. Aesthetic indulgence. Yum.

I fear I could take off on this subject and extend it to so many things, but let it suffice to invite us to recognize also that we need a philosophy of reality and of life that includes the vivid recognition and significance of aesthetics, of doing stuff that feels good, activities that are fun for their own sake. This fills so much of life—perhaps for some far more than the more noble themes of constructing a better world, moving one’s skills, study, or profession forward, doing research, stuff having to do with concrete “achievement.” There’s also having fun while doing these things and in the many—perhaps the majority—of moments in-between. Experiencing moments of enjoyment in a multitudinous variety may be more descriptive of life than thinking of it more as a “doing.”

One Response to “Aesthetic Indulgence”

  • Priscilla says:

    It seems that the grief that comes from no longer rolling coins comes from a type of nostalgia for a little nugget of humanity that has been greatly overshadowed by other nuggets. So I’m curious, what is the fine line that separates “aesthetic indulgence” from nostalgia?

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