'Flights like poetry': Exploring aesthetic experiences in the practice of hunting with birds of prey.
Sara Asu Schroer (University of Aberdeen)
Paper short abstract:
In falconry the hunting process in general and the flights of the birds in particular are highly appreciated and create moments of aesthetic intensity. This paper explores aesthetic experiences of falconry practitioners through focussing on the creative and performative aspects of the practice.
Paper long abstract:
In my research I am looking at falconry, a hunting method in which the abilities of birds of prey are on centre stage. These are seen to be superior to those of the human being who becomes - if skilful enough - an assisting hunting companion. During a hunting day the practitioners intuitively use skills to anticipate movements and rhythms of quarry as well as their falconry birds. This multi-sensory involvement in the hunting process in general and the flights of the birds in particular are highly appreciated and create moments of aesthetic intensity. It is this aesthetic experience of hunting with birds of prey that I would like to explore in this paper. Here I adopt an approach to thinking about aesthetic experience as intrinsically situated and relational. The appreciation of a 'good hawking day' or a 'dramatic flight' of a peregrine falcon cannot be understood when conceptualising 'beauty' or 'ugliness' as inherent properties of objects that can be understood by a disinterested onlooker or by an objectified set of rules of judgement. Aesthetic appreciation, as I understand it, rather encourages a participatory engagement of the perceiver and emerges out of a resonance between perceiver and the perceived. Furthermore aesthetic experience is more than personal or subjective, but is learned, highly communicative and social. Through focussing on the creative and performative dimensions of the falconry practice I will explore how the shared immersion in an aesthetic experience is a central element of creating as well as re-creating a sense of community and belonging.
Exploring aesthetic experiences and practices