"Aesthetics, on the contrary, has to do precisely with not being numb. Aesthetics has to do with feeling, sensing, perceiving, and imagining. It has to do with a heightened rather than a diminished receptivity, with the deployment of our senses - especially of sight and sound, but also of touch, taste, and smell - and of our abilities to conjure and suppose, to go beyond the given limitations of space and time. In aesthetic moments, our sense receptors get turned up, not off; they work harder, rather than shutting down. In aesthetic moments we awaken to kaleidoscopic worlds of sensation and stimulation. The aesthetic pulls us in and dares us to be fully present even at the risk of feeling some pain. In return, it offers us chances to discover new aspects of the world into which we have been thrust. It gives us intense pleasures. It arouses our ever-dormant proclivity for fantasy; it sharpens our powers of discrimination; and it expands, sometimes, our capacity for empathy. Occasionally, in its intensity, it momentarily blinds us to everything else and can, therefore, seem (as Plato taught) dangerous."
- from The Brightening Glance: Imagination and Childhood by Ellen Handler Spitz