Alien Anthropology

The Aesthetics of Poverty

Aesthetics is not only about the appraisal and critical assessment of beauty in art or any other form. It is also an analysis of sensory experience, of perception. Perception is directly related to assessments of beauty, of symmetry and of value and inflates our experience with judgements – both known and unknown, recognised and unacknowledged.

I found myself walking today on an unseasonally cold, grey and windy Spring day. My regular pastime on such (lonely) walks is to consider nature, beauty and philosophy – all to me being different facets of the same enigmatic crystal. Pondering the beauty of some flowers, as I do, I was struck by just how arbitrary our definitions of beauty can be. It is not, after all a property or quality of the world itself to be beautuful or to possess beauty other than that which we project upon it.

It strikes me how we have a tendency to assert value to a thing as measured by the degree or extent of its rarity. Consider the proliferation of poverty in our world – its devaluation in (and of) wealth may not only be a consequence and inevitability of its commonality and Global ubiquity, the shared perception of a cultural devaluation and positive, if often unspoken or unacknowledged, abhorrence of it may be a secondary psychological (as much as economic) consequence of its widespread presence and persistence.

Poor people are more common than rich people and it is unfortunate that this then biases the cultural perception of wealth as having more intrinsic or implicit (perceived, aesthetic) value than poverty. Never mind that the only way any central salience and enduring parasitic dissipative system such as (extreme) wealth can persist is by displacing its entropy and cost onto the vast tides of long-suffering poor and disenfranchised that over-populate all the nations of our world.

We all do not, in general, understand the psychological and cultural mechanisms and symmetries of value and by virtue of this, we are bound to forever and unwittingly cultivate and nurture the conditions and rationale by which poverty is forever recreated.

One reply on “The Aesthetics of Poverty”

Hello G….i liked this post. A lot! And i was sad when you said your walk was lonely. We are all lonely for some strange reason, or for many different reasons. But, thats part of life. You are more aware than others so you notice it more, thats all. Hope you are ok, and suggest some purposeful walking. like in the forest…like Thoreau.


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