The Aesthetic Seance

Aesthetics in the visual arts is ultimately the evaluation of qualia under a given theory of value. Qualia are irreducible aesthetic experiences or feelings that we have no power of introspection over. They cannot be studied materialistically through scientific naturalism. [1]

Qualia are therefore supernatural.

Supernatural entities can be summoned and given expression in the material world through seances. [2] Therefore it should be possible to summon a quale through a seance and give it a means of expression. Rather than theorising about it, ask it directly, see what it has to say for itself.

Summon “red”, for example, and give it access to a ouija board or pencil. Ask it what it contains, how it relates to other colours, what its favourite use by an artist is, whether it really is opposed to green. Summon “line” and ask it if it’s infinite. Extend the criteria used from “supernatural” to “abstract” and summon “portraiture”, “chiaroscuro” or “pop art”.

Qualia are clearly both real and supernatural so belief or disbelief in the supernatural is not an issue. Belief in the efficacy of seance is also not an issue. [3] This is different from summoning up dead artists to create new works as every individual has direct personal experience of the reality of qualia even if they do not have direct personal experience of ghosts.

There are therefore no methodological or metaphysical barriers to the exciting possibilities of the parapsychological investigation of aesthetics.

(Individuals of a nervous disposition, with mental health problems, or on medication should not take part in seances. Local law regarding the holding and recording of seances should be investigated before organizing one. This article makes no claims for the reality of the supernatural beyond the definition of qualia given.)



[3] See for example “Conjuring Up Philip”, M. Owen with Margaret Sparrow, 1976, Harper & Row, New York. Adapted in “Parapsychology, The Controversial Science”, Richard Broughton, 1992, Rider, London.

Posted in Aesthetics, Satire