From the division of Man into introvert and extrovert, came the suggestion that the conscious mind of the introvert is driven by his ego, and the extrovert by his sense of relatedness with the world. Subconciously, the introvert finds joy when emotionally satisfied by a beautiful intellectual system, whereas the extrovert finds happiness when held intellectually rapt by a beautiful sensual world. It is the dual satisfaction of both conscious will and unconscious mind that results in an optimal state of well-being.
Schiller suggested that “creative/wise play” allowed for the appreciation and development of Art/Beauty. This appreciation of the Aesthetic allows both introvert and extrovert to satisfy their conscious and unconscious needs. It is interesting to consider what forms of Art miight satisfy these two different types. It has been suggested that two branches of Art exist: the Empathic and the Abstract. Empathic art creates identifiable objects; representations of reality to which we feel an emotional response. An example would be the work of an Old Master. Abstract art requires an intellectual leap of reasoning to imbue with it with meaning and emotional content. Examples would include modern works of installation art.
Empathic art derives its power from its representative function; the real world idea it depicts and gives larger-than-life meaning to. It is not a stretch to suggest that it would appeal more to an introvert, who, in their desire to externalise themselves onto the outside world, consciously recognises the depicted idea, and fills it with emotional meaning in their subconscious inner world. Abstract art may appeal more to the extrovert, who notes his own overt emotional response to an otherwise meaningless abstraction and is then forced to internally derive an intellectual meaning. Thus, each type of art encourages each type of man to draw on both his conscious and subconscious mind into order to fully appreciate it, albeit by mirror-image methods.
Of course few of us are extremes of type, so few of us consume Art so rigidly. And even in extreme cases, practice and familiarity can lead to appreciation of the other form of Art than would otherwise be predicted. But the underlying theme being suggested is that when indulging in creative play, the form of play chosen by each type is such that it satisfies both conscious and unconscious yearnings.
The appreciation of the aesthetic thus enriches our entire psyche and so increases our sense of fulfilment and happiness. It is, as one writer put it, “objectified self-enjoyment”.
It does not require a great artist to appreciate the aesthetic; merely a mind willing to appreciate possibilities other than the crudely concrete. On the other hand, the creation of art offers a more interactive, possibly synergistic, medium for achieving happiness compared to the mere appreciation of pre-existing work. Naturally, not all of us are meant to be the next Turner Prize winner, but it is not the end-point of Art that is important, nor even the nature of it, but rather the process by which it is created, that is likely to drive the enrichment of our whole self. Whether the Art produced is bad or good is largely irrelevant under this theory.
What is more, Art can be defined exceptionally broadly. It is not just painting or sculpture, nor just literature or music. It is any activity where the aim is to blend conscious and unconscious, and rationality with sensuality. That opens it up to nearly everyone, although not all will feel confident enough to try.
For myself, as a strongly expressed introvert with no great skill with a brush or pen, one example of how I find some small creative release is the simple act of dressing every day. What are clothes but a means by which we design a collage for the day, or a theme to whistle as we go out about our life? We choose colour, pattern, form and shape and blend them together, adding in the vital ingredients of intellectual design and emotional response, and crucially, we do this to our very bodies, and then wear the product in full view of the outside world. What more vital way of creating Art could there be?
Perhaps I over-reach, and in truth, my tongue felt firmly pressed against my cheek while typing the more purple patches of prose in the above paragraph. But I do believe this: finding, appreciating and creating Art in its broadest sense – living the aesthetic life – elevates an otherwise mundane and tramelled existence into something that can satisfy both the conscious and the unconscious mind, and so pave the way to self-actualisation and individuation.
In short? Happiness beckons for the snappy dresser!