On aesthetics

As a student, I have never been intrigued of deciphering the symbolism within a poem.  On the other hand as a singer, I have always been amazed at how a song can move people and how much it can influence people.  I tried applying the Lederach readings to my own personal search for a unique voice and began to see the symbolism of the haiku of the dragonfly.  It teaches to give life to ones poetry. Because like Lederach most of us write during our most stressful times in life (complexity).

One line that really stuck out to me was the line “he who writes three to five haiku poems in a lifetime is a haiku poet” (simplicity).  Also I think music is poetry in song and dance is poetry in motion, which I believe is why I am naturally drawn to poetry. One component of the haiku which i believe is important for all forms of art is to that a “haiku must capture in a few words the complex fullness of a moment, setting or as the poets themselves are fond of saying, an experience”  (Lederach, 67)  This all leads to the thought “how do we  determine the complexity of a all situations and then solve those problems”  I think Roland said it best that we should “focus on finding the most elegant solution”



Poetry has never been something that I’ve enjoyed. I find myself tripping over the words, images, and emotions they are supposed to provoke and usually find myself stuck in my own head without a clue about what I am reading. That’s why reading “On Aesthetics” surprised me a bit. Focusing on haikus during the first section, the author discusses how the word itself means “being sharp in the senses” and how important it is to “embrace complexity through simplicity.” Although this is easier said that done, I found the actual purpose of haikus to be rather surprising. Before, I had found them rather annoying and idiotically short (if I am being honest). Anyways, what I enjoyed most of the article and what has stuck with me is how she listens for poetry on a daily basis. I love that. I feel like a lot of time the honesty and simplicity of what people say without thinking is better than the words carefully attended to. And the fact that she actually listens to them and looks for more than everybody else does is wonderful. So, while poetry may still not come easily to me – especially the whole simplicity thing – maybe just the act of enjoying the words and feeling something will get me farther than thinking. In the meantime, here is a great toothpastefordinner comic!

On Aesthetics

After reading “On Aesthetics: The Art of Social Change”, I am somewhat wanting to put my foot in my mouth.  As I stated in class a few weeks ago, my vision of poetry had always been something that rhymed, no matter what words were used.  However as I mature and delve into deeper reading (such as this piece) I am realizing that there is so much more to this art then rhyming words.  In fact the two haikus at the beginning of this reading and how they were presented with different meanings really amazed me.  By flipping words around, the poem’s moral lesson changed completely.

Poetry in my opinion is a combination of two simple things: How you say what you want to say and the words you use to say it.  I loved the quote “People talk in images” because it is very true.  Whenever someone is explaining something they are picturing it in their mind and trying to express what they see.  The video I came across when I thought about this is Sarah Kay performing “B” at a TED conference.  While few of her words rhyme, her wordplay and imagery is absolutely brilliant, and really stirs emotions.  I hope some of you take the time to watch it.

On Aesthestics

In reading “On Aesthestics”, I was struck by the concepts of intuition and the ways in which it can be related to performance through the audience reaction. As the author describes, intuition is like the “heart’s core” and it “sees things in the heart” (71). It takes the core of complex and intricate experiences and strips them down to the simplest and most pure form . For Lederach, he best saw this through haikus because they are so simple in form, that it’s structure allowed the writer to approach intuition. And when you do this, as he goes on to note, “ you capture the heart of a complex experience, you have arrived at insight and often at way forward” (71).

In connecting this to performance, I found that this principle was best illustrated through an audience’s reaction to a performance. In the instant emotion that comes from viewing or identifying with a performance, the audience is feeling the “heart’s core” of the issue. And since emotion is, by nature, reactionary, I think that it’s structure also allows a person to embody and represent the core and essence of a situation just as the haiku does. With this, here is so much power and beauty in the fact that performance can be used to strip down a matter so that it can be acknowledged, experienced, and understood at its core. Below I have attached a video of a performance that always bring up an emotional reaction for me and allows me to experience a issue in a its core without much though on my behalf—just purely feeling.


I was really struck by the profound message in the Moral Imagination article. I have never thought of a Haiku as being able to convey a powerful message, but the thought of using simplicity to speak to an issue really stood out to me. I like the idea of using few words that translate into a lot of meaning. Often times words stand as fillers, and depart from the point of the conversation. Lederach also uses haikus as a form of peacemaking. The haikus get to the root of the problem, rather than beat around the bush with meaningless words. Looking at words in its simplest composition, as Lederach describes, allows the audience to look at the bigger picture and find a resolution.

The idea of using a haiku to convey meaning reminded me of the exercises we do in class. Creating a scene or image to convey meaning is similar to using poetry as a means of communication. Despite their differences, acting and poetry can communicate more simply and effectively than other forms than may cloud the mind.

Complexity and Simplicity

I thought that the aspect of the article when the author is talking about his journey with poetry was particularly interesting because he writes briefly about how you should just write and not take too much time. The idea that you shouldn’t “think of words when you stop but to see picture better.” I feel like this idea allows you to let your mind teach you what you want to say and how you want to express yourself. This relates to a lot of the performance aspects that we use in class–we let our bodies move the way that we feel that they should based on what we are embodying.

I also thought the idea of haiku begin the intersection of complexity and simplicity was interesting. The idea of using a few words to express larger topics and concerns was something I haven’t really thought about too much. I feel like that idea embodies a much larger notion that within simple, straightforward problems exists larger issues.

After reading the article, I find myself relating poetry writing to performance in the context of what we have studied so far. Poetry also allows for personal interpretations that people can develop. If haiku is used for a call to action like many of the work we have looked at this semester, people will respond in many different ways and have many different voices based on responses to that poetry.

Complexity and Simplicity

The thing that struck me about the talk about the haiku in the reading was how it became a union of complexity and simplicity. A simple poem could be an expression of much greater complexity, and a large, complex problem may arise from a relatively simple issue.

In response to this comment made in the blog that I was reading just now:

“We live in a postmodern age where singular solutions have become incompatible with convoluted, compound problems. ”

I would like to talk about something that I learned in some computer programming classes that I’ve taken in the past, and that is “elegance”.

When talking about “good” computer code, one of the words used to describe such code is “elegance”. There has been much discussion about elegance and what it means in computer programming, so I don’t hope to provide an answer or repeat every side of the discussion here. But I would like to offer it as a response to the above quotation.

An elegant solution does not necessarily mean it is a singular solution. It also does not mean it is a “simple” solution to a complex problem. An elegant solution (in the context of computer programming, and elegant piece of code, or in the context of international relations, an elegant diplomatic policy) can be multifaceted, intricate, and address a variety of topics.

Maybe it’s easier to define it by what it is not. It is not convoluted. It does not have a list of exceptions that must be checked off each time you wish to implement the solution. It is not cumbersome. It does not lumber through an issue each time it makes itself known.

It is subtle, nuanced, efficient, effective, and neither more simple nor more complex than it absolutely needs to be.

I think we tend to view things in a binary of “simple” and “complex”, and that duality clouds our vision from seeing what needs to be seen. Rather than looking to solve a “simple” or “complex” problem in a “simple” or “complex” way, we should instead focus on finding the most “elegant” solution. Sometimes this may lead us to performing a simple act. Sometimes this may lead us to a series of actions. The emphasis should be on how we can solve the problem in the best way, and not how we can keep it within some framework of “simplicity” or “complexity”.

And, of course, we must maintain awareness of the larger issues at hand:


After reading Lederach’s article I found myself feeling how I often feel after hearing a haiku recitation- as if, in attempting to capture a sense of fullness in a scant conundrum of syllables, nothing had been said. Contrary to Lederach’s claim, a haiku approach to any effort of mediation in arenas of social change is inherently problematic for a variety of reasons. First, such an argument presupposes that opposing voices share a common aesthetic around which they can formulate a possibility for social change. If antagonists could conceive a collective sentiment for resolution, there would be no antagonism. The fundamental essence of antagonism is the inability to agree on prospects for synthetic progress. Secondly, a mediator, rather than serving to streamline a barrier of communication and understanding, more often than not, only serves to add to the cacophony of voices and miscommunication/misunderstanding that underscores and perpetuates conflict. A mediator is not a poet. A violent conflict is not a hodgepodge of images that only requires a creative intercessor capable of composing a visual amalgamation to find its resolution. To find, and speak to, the essence of things, one must assume an essentialist perspective. Any such essentialist approach to complex, multifaceted conflicts will never approach any true prospects for lasting, meaningful change. Mediators should help others speak for themselves, not speak for those others.

We live in a postmodern age where singular solutions have become incompatible with convoluted, compound problems. The dissonance of competing claims can no longer find common expression in any shared language or aesthetic; rather, these claims can only be balanced against each other to ensure the greatest possible common good for all. A poetic approach to mediating social change is an inherently dictatorial one. The mediator is no longer practical. What is needed more now than ever is a paradigm shift in our conceptions of representation. Figureheads cannot, and should not, speak for their constituents. The constituents must be empowered to speak for, and amongst, themselves in order to both make their claims heard and negotiate their enactment. The Occupy movements have, more than anything else, demonstrated these emergent elements of postmodern social evolution. There is no Occupy manifesto per se, nor is there any identifiable leader. Though there is a New York Times article entitled “A Manifesto for Wall Street Protestors”(http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/06/business/a-manifesto-for-wall-street-protesters.html), the demands outlined by said article demonstrate the most basic common conception of the problem, not any concrete, ideologically unified proposition for its solution. The only element of Lederach’s article that I agree with is that the core of conflicts must be uncovered to progress towards any solution; however, the prospect of any solution is not as harmonious or reducible as Lederach seems to believe. We are not going to solve our problems by condensing their imagined elements into a succinct poesy. What is required is a collage of independent images that retain both independence and unity, as tensely as the two can attempt to be balanced.

The role of mediators as defined by Lederach seemed opposed to the ‘facilitators’ of Occupy movements. Lederach seems to advocate for mediation that conveys the basic meaning for others, rather than allowing those others to mediate their own meanings. Facilitators, on the other hand, simply guide others in their vocalizations of their own meanings and desires. This is, itself, a performative process with its own codified signs. A brief summary, and short instances, of this performance can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odFygPMwbIM


When reading this passage I began think about just how trivial words can really be. The idea that a Haiku with only 17 syllables can be used to describe or draw up a complex human emotion is very powerful to me. So often we find ourselves talking and talking and talking without saying anything at all. At the bottom of it all words really are worthless. Words are not universal and only hold as much value as the listener interprets them to have. In this world there is only one thing that really has value and that is emotions or experiences. As described by this reading the Haiku limits the use of language in describing experiences. The experience and emotions are what is important in any poetry or performance and words may only get in the way. This reading also reminded me of what I read about two weeks ago (I think) about the power of performance as it’s own universal language. Again. words may only get in the way of allowing an audience to experience a performance. Ballet also reminds me of this principle. When I witch people dance I feel connected to their performance without even hearing them speak.


As I read “On Aesthetics” from The Moral Imagination I thought it was really insightful as the writing went in depth about aesthetics.  I’ve always thought as aesthetics as just simply what brings pleasure to somewhere and that everyone aesthetics are different but I’ve never thought about it more in depth.  I thought it was really interesting how the reading discussed intuition as a part of aesthetics.  I found it interesting that Yeats said that intuition reacts to the “heart’s core”.  I agree that intuition is what builds aesthetics to us as people and it made me wonder about how much our intuition affects everything we do.  I think intuition is built while growing up and the experiences that one has.  If someone is constantly lied to then you would think their intuition in the future would be to be very cautious of trusting anyone.  An example that I thought of how developed intuition would affect aesthetics comes from the media.  We as a culture are always sold on a certain style or look as what is “beautiful” in people.  Through years of growing up and seeing these images I think it builds into our intuition and ultimately affects our aesthetics in regard to beauty in people.  The one question this reading brought up to me in relation to human beauty is if the media was not as powerful as it is in our country, would our aesthetics towards people change?  I just think that idea is interesting especially when you look at other cultures and their aesthetics.