Friday, 26 November 2010

Lighten up T.S. Elliot, Keats did just fine

What is beauty? The question has been pondered since the dawn of sentience. Rightfully so. The human preoccupation with beauty is essential to our understanding of the universe. I don’t just mean physical beauty, although that’s included; I’m talking fluidity, symmetry, harmony, karma, progress, that sense of “rightness” you get in your gut when something feels “natural.” For the sake of argument, let’s define beauty as the epitome of positive and ugly as the abyss of negative.

Beautiful is the sunset, the bright pastels, the burst of light that confidently coats a once-blue canvas like a finger-painting. More beautiful is the person who takes in the sunset, not jaded by seeing thousands of sunsets in their lives, knowing that there will be another sunset tomorrow, yet takes it in for the sake appreciating the most colorful phenomenon in nature. Beautiful is counting the stars in constellations with a loved one, even if you don’t say word, whether it’s from bed or from a campfire. Beautiful is the best woman I know; more beautiful is the curl of her smile turning to a laugh.

Beautiful is a great idea, a joke, treatise, or cure for cancer. Brainstorming, sharing, and publishing an idea so complete it becomes synonymous with civilization itself, like refrigeration, indoor plumbing, and chess. Beauty is what excites you, makes your heart thump. It’s “starting as you mean to go on” and "let us go then you and I." Beauty is your favorite line from a movie, a dunk from the free-throw line, and the harmonic opening to “Bohemian Rhapsody.” It’s the line of a dress and making lists of what inspires you. Beauty is style and hard work; it's purpose, form and function.

There’s more to say, but here’s the truth--Keats and all. Ugliness, something reviled, is being jaded, numbed, uncaring, unfeeling, uninvolved, setting aside the intellect or emotions. Ugliness is hopelessness, “you can’t do it because I can't do it,” and denial. Truly banal is the person who can’t admit their physical or intellectual flaws, or more importantly, ugliness from their actions. Self-destruction trumping self-improvement. Ugliness is a lie, sewage, and quintessentially the incapacity and unwillingness to recognize all the amazing, awe-inspiring feats of intuition and know-how in this world. Whether someone is discounting a beautiful face or an expertly crafted pair of Italian dress shoes, saying beauty is not needed, even for a moment, is the ugliest thing a person has ever said.

And sadly, people say it every day.

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