Why is beauty important?
As Giggles has written, twice now, (damn her grasp of Latin it took me fifteen minutes and a dictionary to reply to her! and my endings aren’t right and I think one of the words is past historic tense) I think therefore I am, not I am beautiful therefore I am. She is correct, without thought beauty is meaningless.
But can’t we appreciate beauty without thought as well as intellectualising beauty? Art critics and theorists who’s names currently escape me put it best as aesthesis and theoria, dammit thats Ruskin isn’t it….ok Ruskin describes aesthesis as the initial, animal response to something pretty, something truly beautiful makes rise within us the irresistable urge to enjoy it; theoria is understanding that this is beauty we are looking at and oh my God isn’t it wonderful. Theoria, an intellectual (or possibly over thought?) reaction to beauty.
I dislike over-thinking things, a reaction is a reaction is a reaction and over-thinking often intellectualises a feeling, a primal state, an emotion; by this I do not mean to de-value thought becuase without the ability of thought and thinking I would not be sat here saying and thinking this, cogito ergo sum and all. So do I think that beauty is more important than thought? Sorry what’s the argument? How could be appreciate what beauty is without the thought?
I do not think that thought and beauty are polar or philosophical opposites, but I would like to make it quite clear that critics and theorists have a habit of sitting away form reality and writing about it rather than living it which I think devalues what they have to say on the subject. It is over thinking in fact that has led to the distinguishing of aesthesis and theoria. We have two entirely separate reactions to beauty? We have an initial gut reaction which is subborned (is that a word, and if it is is it the right one?) to our thinking brain?
I will agree that this is the logical conclusion to everything that we usually come across; people – initial gut reaction, book judging by the cover etc. then get to know them and make a rational decision. But. Beauty.
If you believe the feminists in the 70s I can’t possibly understand beauty, perhaps I exagerate or perhaps they did. But as a woman I naturally see through the evil male construct of beauty. I am not a viewer I am not a chattel to be viewed therefore for me beauty does not exist, I am free of the chains of patriachy I do not need to worry about making myself up for some man. I need not fret about beauty, it should be unimportant to me as a freethinking woman.
What is this beauty? I have not yet decided entirely and think I shall save my thoughts on that for another day. But why is it important? Don’t I know that thought is more important? I am free from physical constraints, I have a brain in my head and I can think. Beauty without thought is vapid and meaningless, thought without appreciation of beauty is mechanical and a process without joy.
Beauty is not merely found, as those feminists seemed to think, in a woman caked over with make-up concious of all eyes upon her. Attention-seeking and beauty are entirely diferent creatures. Beauty is found in the smallest of things, a mouse eating crumbs by a wainscot, or in the largest of things, a sunset in the desert. It is found in people, not just in physical attributes but also in their thoughts and words and deeds. And it is important because beauty in its very essence makes the world breathable and a place in which it is a pleasure to think.