The Beauty of Beauty
Did you ever wonder why some things are just lovely to look at?
What makes some things beautiful and others, not so much?
Modern thinkers might say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but that may not really be true because beauty has a way of reaching a multitude of people even if no one utters a word about it.
In terms of music you might think of harmony vs. discord. We all (perhaps not the tone deaf) know what a discordant note sounds like. It’s unpleasant and sounds out of sync with the previous and subsequent notes. No one has to point this out, as it is evident.
Similar things can be said about beauty. No one needs to point out something that is truly beautiful. It’s only when someone is trying to convince us that something (which is not beautiful) is beautiful they’ll need to invent reasons to try to convince us. Our own eyes, and perhaps, our ears do not see or hear it.
According to Thomas Aquinas, beauty actually has attributes:
1. Unity, integrity or wholeness,
2. Proportion, and
So, unity, integrity or wholeness, means for example, that an object is completely itself all the way through. It’s not missing anything or doesn’t have anything added to it that wouldn’t naturally be there, like a dog with an extra set of eyes on the back of its head. A beautiful dog is one that is completely and utterly a dog will all its dog-ness all the way through.
Now, how about proportion? Well, that’s an easy one. If you look at the typical Greek column you’ll notice that they taper from bottom to top, the top being smaller in circumference than the bottom, kind of like a tapered candle. At at distance, however, this creates a more refined appearance than if it were the same circumference all the way through.
And finally, how does clarity point to beauty? Well, when something is blurry, we can’t make it out, and our eye has to work very hard to see what it is seeing. Our brain loves to see boundaries, and so, the more in focus and distinct something is, the more beautiful it appears.
You may disagree with these attributes, but it might be hard to prove opposing points on this matter.
Anyway, I think you’ll agree that the lovely bouquet I made this morning collecting flowers from my own trees and bushes and a couple from my neighbor’s yard (sorry about that, Scott) is actually quite beautiful. The flowers are flowers all the way through, to their very essence; the bouquet is in balanced proportion to the vase (what little of it you can see, of course), and you can easily see what it is before you: a colorful bouquet of spring flowers.
Enjoy the beauty, my friend, and see if you can’t find some in your travels today!