Friday, December 29, 2006

Pulchritude

THE PRETTIEST

And have you ever noticed that people describe the ‘experience’ of beauty. They can’t tell you what it is -- it's like it's a feeling. The famous philosopher Santayana asserted that beauty was “pleasure objectified.” Does that mean “in the eye of the beholder?” Or is it simply saying that if you took pleasure and personified it, molded it into a human being, that it would be beautiful? I don't know.

But did you know this? All human beings, the ugly and the almost divine, respond to beauty viscerally. It’s a gut reaction. True beauty punches you right in the primeval areas of the limbic system. So beauty, on one level, is immune to rational thought processes -- it is just a response to the ferocious imagery, the energetic urgency of physical attributes. True beauty is, literally, ‘breathtaking.’ And at times, it brings about cerebral immotility. Else why Ezra Pound’s essential two line poem, unfolding a series of beautiful faces, one after another?

“The apparition of these faces in the crowd:
Petals on a wet, black bough.”


I have a question, though: to what do we compare the beautiful? Surely, not simply the unsightly, the unattractive. Some have posited that each of us has somewhere within in us a model of beauty, a ‘picture’ of pulchritude, a universal ideal -- a beauty-o-meter, if you will. It is, again, universal -- we all have one. And the criteria are common.

My own experience underscores this theory. Except I am honest enough to assert that I find dismaying flaws in every beautiful person that I meet. And these flaws tend to repulse me, rather than attract me. I discover myself wanting to perfect the imperfection. I am truly seeking the Perfect Beautiful Person. And the more beautiful they are, that is, the closer they come to perfection, the more glaring their flaws -- and the more put off I become.

Valery propounds three different ‘bodies’ for each human being:
1. The one that we have and live in -- our own body. The flesh. It usually becomes the center of our universe. No, more. It becomes The center of the universe. For if it grows old and dies, then I am no more! That which is ‘Me’ is gone. And it is here that theology and philosophy slip into the room, looming like dark clouds on a sunny day.
2. The body general, which is the body that we observe in everyday life, in living. The body as it is adorned, portrayed on postcards, in magazines, in television ads. It could be called the ‘body in art.’ This is the body that we desire to feel, to touch, to kiss, to caress.
3. The body as a machine: the body that is composed of parts, organs, veins, blood, etc. It is the body most of us never see, never want to see, never hope to see. For it is not real -- to ‘us.’ And its reality is attended by a realization of immortality -- which is an offense dirus. Immortality, death -- is the ugly!

And I want to be beautiful! I do. I so desire to be attractive -- for if I am, then I can attract you. You might love me -- that is, if I’m beautiful enough. But if I’m not, then I will be rejected, abandoned and tossed aside. Perhaps that is why the human race values physical beauty so very much: we want it. And if we have it, then others will want us. And maybe, just maybe, they will love us. So then, perhaps Love is the only real, true beauty that exists. And if that is true, then real beauty is spiritual, is it not? Indeed, Plato asserted that beauty made the spiritual perceptible. But might it not be the obverse? Might not the spiritual be the source of beauty. Yes, I would say that is more accurate. Even Tolstoy remarked on this: “It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.” And maybe that’s why the Bible says, “That God looks upon the heart, while man looks upon the outward appearance.”

But attractiveness attracts, doesn’t it?

Beautiful people, or just beauty, surpass the ordinary fluxions of circumstance. And by that, I mean this: that beauty, and beautiful people, require, command, and demand space around them. Beauty acts and moves forward through the space/time continuum on grounds of procedural effect. Beauty and the beautiful ones shimmer in color as they advance -- and they progress un-self-consciously.

That all being said, from a purely psychological perspective “behavior often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.” In other words, if and when beauty is granted special favored status, i.e., power, is it any wonder then that beauty assumes its role? This ‘halo effect,’ or nimbus precedes beauty and preprograms responses. Axiom: mankind has difficulty believing that something evil could dwell in such an elegant package. To most minds, the very suggestion lacks merit. Thus, beauty is commodi, an advantage; it blinds others, those that we call ‘average,’ or even ‘ugly,’ to realism. For the ‘average’ find themselves irretrievably part of a collectivity with only mass communications to shape their hopes, formulate their values and arrange their thinking. These ‘vulgar’ ones idolize beauty; they worship at the altar that is not theirs; they accede to mankind’s topmost graven image, before which they readily prostrate themselves -- the erotica for dreams.

1 Comments:

Blogger The Bizarre Jokester said...

Happy New Year! May this year be happy, successful and prosperous for you :)

7:01 AM  

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