• Caroline Ruivo

A mundane masterpiece

Dave and Cindy have been wanting to visit the Musée du Louvre for the past 10 years. They recently booked their trip to one of the world's most visited museums and are thrilled to embark on this new adventure together.

When they finally arrive in Paris, Cindy is captivated by Leonardo da Vinci's archetypal masterpiece: The Mona Lisa. Cindy tries her best to study the cracks and grooves of the painting, the grittiness of the brush strokes against the wood panel, and the mysterious way the Mona Lisa seems to be following her every move as she observes her from left to right.

"Isn't this fascinating?" Cindy exclaims. Dave isn't sure how to reply. The truth is, he is quite surprised to find that he doesn't feel moved by what he is seeing at all. The oil painting is no bigger than 30 inches and the Mona Lisa's complexion is much more dull than what he imagined it to be.

In this moment, Dave feels dissonance between what he feels obligated to say (i.e., that the painting is beautiful) and how he truly feels inside (i.e., that he finds it mundane). This is an example of how aesthetic perception differs from person to person.

As we develop our own taste for our aesthetic preference, we will be able to truly know and accept ourselves fully. Only then will we be able to lead an authentic life.

Reflection Question: How much of our taste is determined by what other people decide?

Photo by Jean Pierre