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文章来源:中国翻译协会 发布时间:2019-06-28 11:09 作者:中国翻译协会 点击:


An Experience of Aesthetics

Robert Ginsberg

I climbed the heights above Yosemite Valley, California in order to see the splendid granite mountain, Half Dome, in its fullest view. Approaching the edge through the woods I was filled with heightened expectation. I saw the ruin of a cabin and my approach caused the alignment of the chimney on this side of the valley with the shorn mountain across the valley. I stopped. Something happened. The stone verticals corresponded, one human-shaped, the other natural. The human site was still engaged in sightseeing. I was on its side. I saw the famous sight through the eyes of the ruin. I had come expecting beauty; I discovered an unexpected dimension to the beauty of the scene/seen.

In this experience I had been seeking the aesthetic. I knew I would find it, for I had seen post cards in advance and was following the trail map. The seeking took considerable effort and time. It was a heavy investment. I was not going for the scientific purpose of studying rock formation, nor was it for the recreational purpose of exercising my limbs in the fresh air, though that exertion added intensity to the experience and was its context. Primarily, I was going for the scenic wonders. No wonder that I would take delight in seeing Half Dome. The expectation elicited the outcome. I was suitably prepared. No distractions of practical consideration — or theoretic — detracted from my concentrated expectancy. Indeed, the world all around me on the climb contributed to the context for my goal. I was on the terrain of Nature in a national park, following the trail to a viewpoint upon a celebrated natural formation. Each step in the climb not only brought me closer but obliged me to sense the altitude. Moving through the thick woods was in anticipatory contrast to the great gap of the valley and the starkness of the treeless granite boulder.

My spirit and my senses were heightened. I was keenly aware of the world, eager to experience it. My senses were willing to be gratified by their fullest exercise. Hence my eye was sharp, but so was my ear and my nose, I was open to experiencing aesthetically. And on the way I did take minor pleasure in a bird's song, a tree's sway, and a cloud's contortion. I was in the world considered as potential aesthetic realm. Any pleasing feature that appeared would be welcomed. And that welcoming mode drew forth pleasing features. A tonic subjective at-homeness with the world pervaded my feelings. I was in the right mood to enjoy Nature.

Then the unexpected happened. I had no thought in reaching the natural heights that a human structure would be present. Normally, I would have avoided any such structure as I directed my steps toward the natural view. In retrospect it makes sense that a service building be present at the trail end. It may have had facilities for visitors and played an interpretive role. But the building was not present when I arrived. It was absent though its ruin was present. And that ruin spoke to my experience as related to what I had come to see. If I had been trudging on in a dulled state, passing the time in surroundings — like those of the railway station — that did not draw interest, I might well have missed the chimney, walked past it as if it were another tree on the way to the goal. The heightened intensity of my sensibility allowed the chimney to be integrated into the experiencing aesthetically. Readiness was all. The extraterrestrial aesthetician would explain that the creature it was observing on the trail was a specimen of an aesthetic being whose experiencing apparatus for the aesthetic was on full alert. The individual was completely given over to the enjoyment of its experience. And while headed in the direction of an anticipated goal it was nonetheless open to enjoying anything that came its way. Something quite unexpected came its way, and it was ready to attend to it, getting the maximum aesthetic value out of the encounter. The creature was embarked on an adventure in experience. Given the wide range of accessible natural wonders in the national park, the individual in the right mood was bound to make gratifying discoveries.

What are the contents of the aesthetic discovery? Formal properties of beauty may be pointed to in what I saw: the verticals as distinctively shaped and gathering space about them, and the interplay between the two kinds of vertical shapes over the enormous intervening space. The pleasure of perspective entered, for though the chimney is miniscule compared to Half Dome, my approaching it from the trail made it assume visual and spatial dignity equal to the mountain. Complexity of human meaning is encountered with poignant irony. The chimney is an enduring marker of the human value placed on the mountain visible from this point. Here human hands raised stones to shelter an experience of pure stone. So I have come to the right place; I am at home. But the human occupation has been lifted; our presence has turned to stone. Nature has reclaimed its elements. Half Dome presides over the petrifaction of the world. Chimney and mountain are in dialogue as I sense the switching between their perspectives. I am present in ruin and in unity.


审美的体验 罗伯特·金斯伯格







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