Sunday, July 24, 2005

Everything is Beautiful ...

"Without a foundation of principles taste is superficial, grace must arise from something deeper than imitation." --Mary Wollstonecraft

My feeling today may be a timeless lament ... a sensation that currently there is more interest in fashion trends and cell phone cameras and the latest "cool" trainers, than there is in heartful social engagement. Than there is in creative genius or originality, service or examples of humanity in action. Than there is in the (human and environmental) cost of producing the extraneous things we are compelled to buy.

There is an idolatry of the heightened image, and the image has nothing to do with authenticity, creativity, integrity, intelligence or accomplishment. It has to do with the right clothes, a "rockin' body," or a one-dimensional face. I am astonished at the amount of money tossed to the glamorous, merely for being "pretty." I am sad at the amount of money and attention that (especially those with oodles of it) won't contribute to issues like third world debt, alternative forms of energy, etc.

Aesthetics is a philosophical area of interest of mine. On a basic level, many of us are drawn to beautiful things, many of us propose that there are movements and content that are innately lovely. What those things specifically are, become the landscape of the Arts. There is good argument made that beauty can be evoked merely by form. But more profoundly, I agree with Mary Wollstonecraft--beauty is hollow without content. I cannot speak to relative intelligence of the myriad entertainers that are considered "beautiful" today, but my imaginary "list of three" is blank. Men and women are uninteresting to me unless they are both true to themselves, compassionate, and intellectually engaged on some level.

That said, I ponder beauty today and some images have floated into my mental camera. I have encountered several beauties in the past week or so:

* The young man with severe cerebral palsy, who patiently crossed a busy intersection in downtown Portland.

* My cousin's new wife playing guitar in my backyard on a pristine summer's evening.

* My cat, curled into my belly, glancing up at me with sleepy, almond eyes. (A rare treat because Aaron is away)

* My neighbor's Pugs running toward me with bodies wiggling in happy greeting.

* My friend, Najwa, proudly displaying to me her crystal collection (her prized possession) with stories to match each piece.

* Two small bats cavorting around my yard shortly after sunset yesterday.

* A peanut-tiny girl I saw in a store yesterday, dressed up and sporting a huge straw hat.

* The extraordinary pathos of the mother of young Samantha (who was kidnapped from her Stanton, CA home, and then killed, about 5 years ago) as she addressed her daughter's killer in court.

* An elderly couple I saw walking hand-in-hand, swinging their arms like teenagers.

Can you add to my list?


At 3:35 PM, Blogger Carole said...

*The moments when I stare into my grandson's eyes and he stares back into mine.

*The little old lady in her clean and pressed dress who is fighting to the last breath to rid her neighborhood of drugs and criminals.

*The dignity of some people who are dying.

At 11:39 PM, Blogger jon said...

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