Yesterday a former colleague of mine, Dain Olsen, came by to help me get this site going, and we had a fascinating conversation about the diminished role of aesthetics in the conceptual underpinnings of western culture. Dain is a media arts teacher and has agreed to write something for this site. His thinking is dense and complex, but essentially, if I understand it, his argument is that ever since Plato, aesthetics – the processing of experience and knowledge through the senses rather than through pure reason – has been undervalued. John Dewey addresses this in his writings, and Dain also recommended a book called The Meaning of the Body, by Mark Thompson. Re-visioning the role of aesthetics would require a radical re-thinking of our educational systems and would greatly increase the role of arts engagement. Dain sees media arts as a potential catalyst for this needed transformation.
One connection I made as he explained this was a passage that Barbara Kingsolver wrote as an addendum to her novel The Lacuna. She points out that in Mexican culture (and in many world cultures) the arts play a much more significant role, even in politics.
Dain is hoping to write a book but struggling to carve out the time in his life. My hope is that this site will eventually be a place where people can post their exploratory thinking for feedback from others in the field. We need to keep each other inspired.