I don’t want to be the type of person that makes drinking alcohol a regular habit, but there’s something about being hungover that allows me to work at peak productivity. There’s this weird focus I get where my mild headache liberates me from the distractions that surround me. It doesn’t matter if I’m working next to a construction site (which I am right now); the only thing I seem to be able to focus on is my work, and it’s because this mild feeling of pain allows my mind to finally concentrate on something. It makes me think, if I drank less water after a night out during undergrad, maybe my grades would’ve been better.
It’s one part of my sense of aesthetics that is rather at odds with what our current society considers to be aesthetically acceptable. I hate to be the one to advocate for causing mild pain to yourself to live a more fulfilling life, but old habits die hard, and this is just what I’m into. At this point, the entire reason I exercise or study or add chilli pepper to my pizza is because it’s a more socially acceptable way to hurt yourself. People won’t ever admit that they enjoy hurting themselves, but I don’t think there’s ever been a point in my life where I didn’t want to hurt myself. For me, it’s just a matter of what means I channel it through.
There are more “unhealthy” means that I’ve tried when I was younger, which made me somewhat a social outcast growing up. Eventually, I figured out a way to make it societally acceptable to hurt myself. I could study until my brain turns into jelly or run until my lungs bursts like a balloon — all of which hurt immensely — but I could say I do in the name of “hustle” or “health”. Maturity, to me, isn’t so much a matter of becoming more comfortable with yourself that you become immune to the opinions of others. Lately, I’ve thought of maturity as reconciling the frowned-upon parts of your identity with societal expectations of what is considered an acceptable and desirable identity.
The thing about money that I like is that it truly has the ability to create a desireable aesthetic out of anything. It’s funny; I remember during undergrad how I read a lot of critical theory about how capitalism creates structures in the artistic world that reaffirms its own legitimacy and how we reached a tipping point in the popular consciousness where it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism (see: capitalist realism). It’s funny because the agenda of critical theory is to encourage people to, well, critique capitalism, but my main takeaway from those readings was that I should accumulate as much capital as possible to shape what people consider to be an ideal life under capitalism.
It’s hard to imagine a world where capital doesn’t translate into aesthetics. Money doesn’t buy style, but enough money allows you to hire a personal shopper that could shop for you, which does indeed buy style. Another way of looking at it is that it’s hard to imagine a world where ordinary people aren’t interested in learning about the lives of the rich and wealthy.
I’d like to think that if I accumulate enough capital, eventually people would care about what I have to say. Given the capital I’ve accumulated over the past year, it makes sense that no one really cares about what I have to say. However, if you make a billion dollars in a year, then all of a sudden people from the media want to interview you. You can say anything you want, and people would write about it. If you can create art that reaches people, then you have even more aesthetic power in communicating your ideas than if you didn’t create art. When enough people write about your ideas and share your ideas, eventually your ideas end up being a part of the popular consciousness and actually shape people’s sense of aesthetics.
I think art for art’s sake is a neat idea, but to me that’s more of a motivation as opposed to a goal. I can’t imagine any artist would who prefer to create art viewed by no one.
It’s unfortunate that there’s such a distinct relationship between capital and aesthetics in this world. It’s unfortunate that art created by artists who have not “made it” (and thus do not have seven-figure savings) does not hold as much attention in the popular consciousness as artists that have indeed “made it”. It’s unfortunate that media outlets continue to glamourize the lives of the rich and create content that makes ordinary life seem inadequate. But, above all, it’s unfortunate that we, as consumers, have allowed and encouraged this system to exist as it does because of our own obsession with money and wealth.
A lot of philosophers I read were angsty incels who never received recognition for their work during the time they were alive. While recently it’s been more chic to live the “outsider” aesthetic, I think that Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Kierkegaard all had profoundly unhappy lives due to their inability to achieve recognition and make lasting relationships. Personally, I think all of their problems could’ve been solved if they made a billion dollars. As much as I like some of their ideas, I’m determined not to follow in their footsteps.
A lot of the time, I feel that I am not beautiful. My solution is to do everything I can to maximize my chances in becoming a billionaire, so I can finally feel that I am beautiful.