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Small happiness: aesthetic strategies for witting consumers

Beyond being moral and intellectual, we believe in our heart of hearts that true happiness endures and surpasses all tests of time--a criterion that sometimes proves too challenging for those who stake happiness on but a handful of epic life events. Felicitously, robustness is the strong suit of the small when the small is practiced as a wise ecosystem. Finally, true happiness becomes substantial when it not only endures, but in fact, creates and flourishes. True love ripens like a fine wine, and children make their parents prouder by each year. Yet so too can small happiness flourish and multiply if one believes in the unlimited creative potential of aesthetic multiplicities. With the wisdom of a well-trained imagination, each passing day we will even recognize new beauties in that which is already before us.

From programming the unconscious to aesthetic technologies

My view of aesthetics is much closer to Freud"s. His insight was that the experience of art and beauty arises when everyday situations cause the unconscious mind to erupt with emotion. Using that revolutionary idea, Freud was able to interpret dreams and laughter--two central problems of aesthetics. Freud"s explanation emboldens computational inquiry into aesthetics because it implies that art and beauty"s sublime are psychological rather than divine; art and beauty are not inferior to the rational, but rather, are circumstances more contextually sophisticated than rationality. In Computational Aesthetics, we have applied many AI techniques to "implement" Freudian psychoanalysis in computer programs and machines. This affords new lines of inquiry into a great variety of aesthetic questions--for example, happiness, taste, imagination, humor, frustration, suffering, irony, myth, intimacy, memories, and morality.

Superconsumer: a postmodern romance

But where is this in-between and how can a bricoleur find this space? Bhabha gives away the secret--it is located in "those moments or processes that are produced in the articulation of cultural differences." The bricoleur is accustomed to undermining one culture"s teachings with the teachings of another, but if he were to focus on the difference between the two teachings and let that space of difference fill his imagination, a continuum of a thousands possible teachings would appear. Thus, to be in-between the space of difference affords even greater freedom than rebellion.

Articulation, the letter, and the spirit in the aesthetics of narrative

We posed the aesthetics of narrative as problematics of articulation, the letter, and the spirit. We established the letter as the agency of social language, of the explicit, known, mundane, habituated, and thus, unaesthetic. In contrast, the spirit is the agency of the aesthetic; it is an amorphous, anomic space that is alive with meaning, fraught with creative tension, and home to the unarticulated, unarticulatable, mystified, sacred, and mythical. Whereas the letter is socially constructed and maintained, the spirit arises out of the personal and collective unconscious, its chief vehicle to the realm of the conscious being through the agency of intuition.