An analogy – which takes place between ancient and modern times – with the ultimate purpose of enabling everyone to dance with their daimon through life.
In Greek mythology the nine Muses, daughters of Zeus, presided over music and dance. The importance the Hellenes gave to music is very relevant. The art of the arts – which gives the human being the opportunity to transform simple air into something that transports souls far beyond the senses, capable of enchanting countless generations from its origin.
In Aristotle’s view, music is so important that he even introduced the word “ethos”, used for the power of music to influence and balance emotions and morals. In the Aristotelian theory, music has two main purposes: education and pleasure. He observed that humans are inclined to imitations from early childhood, as a way of learning. So, according to him, all arts are imitative, and music education has its focus on imitating states of the moral good. Regarding music as pleasure, he believes that making or listening to music can be a source of pleasure by nature, and even with this only feature it is beneficial in itself.
To ancient Greeks, music was inevitably combined with dance and poetry; and dance cultures have always been driven by a kind of extreme hedonism. Hedonism means living and behaving in ways that get you as much immediate physical pleasure out of life as possible, by the belief that the most important thing in life is enjoying yourself. The Rave culture in particular has always been seen as purely hedonistic, but actually those events are frequently regarded as spiritual by the people involved. Even if hedonism and aesthetic experience are opposite at first glance, they have a common purpose which is pleasure, in two different forms.
Let’s dig into the term “aesthetic experience” now. “Aesthetic” is of Greek origin too, meaning “of sense perception”. It was used both as a noun and an adjective. Experience displays the same dual objective/subjective character of the aesthetic. It can denote both what is experienced – object of experience – and the way that the object is experienced by a subject. Experience is both a noun and a verb. It can relate not only to a finished event but also to a continuing process of experiencing.
According to Aristotle, the experience of beauty is an aesthetic experience that must indisputably lead to a katharsis. He introduces the artistic katharsis which has the purpose of purifying inwardly, leading to contemplation, awakening sensations never experienced before and, by moving thoughts and emotions, must help to get free from anxieties. Techno experience can be seen as an aesthetic practice of purification. This experience begins with Eidos, also known as the “form”, which captures our attention and inexplicably involves us by stimulating our thoughts and imagination. The common goal of those who participate in these events is to let off steam and have fun, for this reason it is a moment that arouses pleasure and is considered an emotionally beautiful experience. However, it must contain two natures expressed by a single term: Kalokagathia, composed of kalòs, beautiful and fulfilling, and agathòs, good and with a useful value. It is an immersive experience that involves and stimulates body and mind; it also generates a sense of belonging and mutual understanding between the participants. There is a tangible energy that goes along with dancing to loud beats with lots of people. Race, gender, age, sexual preference and everything else,
on which society places so much emphasis, simply disappear into the background creating an atmosphere of love, acceptance and belonging. An escape from the reality of mainstream society into a utopian world for a few hours. The creation of a separate space where, although apparently there are no laws, there is respect for others and, consequently, for their limits. People are normally inhibited from expressing love, moving freely and enjoying themselves because of fear but in this safe space everyone can feel free to be what they truly are or want to be. This sums up the essence of the “vibe” so commonly talked about.
In Aristotelian philosophy, however, there are also artistic practices that do not lead to an aesthetic experience, thus too much or too little intense where in both cases the katharsis is not reached. Many factors contribute to make the techno experience an aesthetic experience or not. Personal projections, empathy and energy, as well as the physical state of the subject come into play. Then there is the attitude, the inclination for a particular mental activity, or how the propensities of the personality affect the aesthetic appreciation. In addition to all the factors just mentioned, in the techno experience an important role is also played by the music, the environment, the people and the intake of substances that, combined with the mental state of the subject who uses them, may improve the cathartic journey or contribute to the possible failure of it. One must be able to perceive beauty and assume the appropriate attitude towards it to live it fully.
But what is the real purpose of all of this?
According to Aristotle, the purpose and the ultimate goal in life is to achieve Eudaimonia (happiness). Eudaimonia, from Greek “eu”: good and “daimon”: demon, literally means “to be in the company of a good demon”. Daimon (δαίμων), translatable as “Demon”, in Greek mythology and philosophy is a being who stands halfway between a divine creature and a mortal one, with the function of mediating between these two dimensions. Individuals have the responsibility to recognize and live in agreement with their daimon which is their true self. The daimon refers to the potentialities and possibilities of each person and the achievement of that represents the greatest fulfillment in living of which each is capable. It is an ideal in the sense of being an excellence, the perfection to aspire to, and it can give life real meaning and direction. Each individual has a personal conception of his own well-being and the search for happiness is linked to the understanding that the conditions for achieving it are within ourselves, as Aristotle said “Happiness belongs to the self-sufficient”. So let’s just keep dancing with our daimon through life.
Techno and Aristotle / An aesthetic experience
Words: Dania Miatello / @daniamiatello
Artwork: Lisa Bender / @etions_formidables