Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Aesthetic Arrest


Dr. Stimson Carrow introduced the concept of Aesthetic Arrest in a graduate Aesthetics course at Temple University. My classmate Dori and I snickered on the Broad Street Subway after class at the weighty pretentiousness of the term, but it turns out that the concept swirled through the remarkable minds and out through the pens of James Joyce and Joseph Campbell. Far be it from us to question the significance of Aesthetic Arrest.This is that phenomenon of being so overwhelmed with a thing of beauty that you just have to stop everything and stare. It can be a work of art, a scene in nature or even an original thought manifested in a well-built machine. Most of the time, it sneaks up on you. It's almost spiritual, or even completely spiritual.
Aesthetic Arrest snuck up on me Monday. It rained all morning and into the afternoon, and the accompanying wind was strong enough to knock out my phone service. Then the sun came out and I took Gladys (the dog) for a walk along the bay. I brought my Nikon along so that I could shoot some winter beach scenes for another project.

The bright post-storm sunlight changed to that magical golden light that happens just before the sun sets. I love to photograph Gladys in that light, but I think that goldenness would make anyone look good. The clouds were spectacular, probably from the edge of the storm.

Gradually, as I shot some photos for my project, the lovely golden light morphed into an oddly dark, filtered light. The residual storm clouds were covering up the sun, ruining the sunset for those folks in parked cars up on the street. Some of those clouds looked rather threatening and I thought I should probably get Gladys and my Nikon home safe and dry.
I could not get enough, though. It was Aesthetic Arrest for sure. I had never seen the bay quite like this and I have been coming to this beach at every time of day, in every season, for decades. I took more than my share of gorgeous photos.

Anyone know of a good contest?

2 comments:

Jen said...

I can't get enough of your blog! It is fantastic! I love the pictures... it makes me want to visit, lay on the beach, visit the area... awww relaxing!

Margaret said...

Thanks Jen! I love Cape May and I'm so glad my parents settled there so I can call myself a native! The beach Monday was spectacular. I hope you visit someday!