‘Changing Your Life’: Aesthetic Experience As Experience of Transfiguration

S. B. Nikonova


The intensity of aesthetic experience can be seen as endowed with the power to transform and transfigure. This effect is revealed in the article through the analysis of Rilke’s poem “The Archaic Torso of Apollo” (1908), which describes a concentrated aesthetic experience when contemplating a sculptural fragment, as if this experience called for a change in one’s life, but without indicating the direction of change. The nature of this experience is defined in terms of the concept of presence of H.U. Gumbrecht. The absence of a meaningful indication in aesthetic experience connected with the perception of a work of art correlates with Kantian definitions of the sublime. The aesthetically sublime indicates not concrete content, but awakens in us the idea of the infinite, and it, in turn, can be associated both with the religious experience, and with the principle of transforming and transcending oneself as the basis of a person’s spiritual life. Accordingly, it is concluded that in the post-metaphysical secular epoch, the intensity of aesthetic experience, appealing to transformation and to “another life”, replaces the metaphysical search for supernatural harmony and religious faith.


aesthetic experience; art; intensity; experience; trauma; transformation; transfiguration; sublime; spiritual act


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.31312/2310-1245-2023-58-142-152


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