For me an aesthetic experience is an experience that speaks to you – something that either rekindles a memory from the past or ignites a new type of excitement. For example, an event might invoke a feeling that connects you to your childhood, and might shower you with a warm gush of comfort. Or an event might pave a new path and spark a completely different feeling that you were foreign too. An aesthetic experience is a derivative of what you enjoy.
When I spoke with my peers regarding their definitions of aesthetic experience, I was showered with a variety of interpretations, but all with the same theme: To explore upon something that you enjoy. An aesthetic experience can not be achieved unless the person is doing something that he enjoys to some extent. To enjoy something, a relative level of control and excitement has to be exerted over that specific experience. For example, for some people, can aesthetic experience can border from a life threatening experience, but even so the person has some form of control over the situation to be able to enjoy that experience.
My peers mostly agreed with my interpretation of an aesthetic experience. I am sure, all of us have had experiences that revisit fond memories from the past and also spark new feelings that we would like to further expand upon. An aesthetic experience can also be achieved through a combination of both – an experience that seeks to appreciate what we already know and also explore beyond into the unknown.
For me an aesthetic experience that I treasured a lot during my Winter holidays was a revisit of the Chinese night market that I always used to visit as a kid. I had the pleasure of flying back to China to visit relatives over the winter and through my time in China i was able to rekindle with many of the things I used to be fond of as a kid. One such was my love for late night streets snacks. As a kid, I would visit streets in my hometown, Shanghai, filled with vendors that sell various types of street food such as grilled lamb skewers, fresh baked bread, fried tofu, fried chicken and many more delicious snacks. Even though, these stalls are shutting down more and more across the city due to stricter health guidelines and government control, there are still a handful left in the vast metropolitan city.
Through my visit to the Chinese night market I was able to connect back with the past me, the five year old me, and what he enjoyed. It helped me understand how much I’ve grown as a person, and how much my perspective has changed. I am now more aware of the many details that I did not care for in the past. For example, the dirty ethic that vendors might display, like touching money whilst cooking the food. All in all, re-visiting this memory brought me great joy, but also has helped me understand more about the experience that i otherwise would not have known.