This I Believe

Robert - Houston, Texas
Entered on March 20, 2008
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe in beauty

I believe in beauty. Not the facile kind of ‘beautiful people” beauty, but in what I would call authentic beauty.

Beauty is a term that applies in objective and subjective ways. Two persons can pass by a field of wildflowers and remark

on its beauty, no argument whatsoever. The same two people can disagree about a book, a movie or building, however.

The point is that they are still agreeing on the fundamental value of beauty, even while they disagree. In fact when we say a movie

or other work of art is “good,” we are saying it possesses beauty.

So beauty is a virtue: it is always good. You cannot say that anything is “too beautiful” in the sense that I am using here.

But what is beauty? The psychologist Rollo May defined it as something that brings you joy and peace at the same time.

Think of it. You can feel joy when your favorite team wins the championship, but that is a kind of frenetic high, and short lived.

That is not to demean sports at all; they are great in their way, but unless there is some added element, a victory is not beautiful.

Beauty is present in highest and humble forms of human endeavor. Even a simple plate of fruit, artfully

arranged, can be beautiful.

It is not an esoteric thing, but quite the opposite. When I put the popcorn in an attractive bowl for my teenager, something is added,

compared to if I just handed her the bag straight from the microwave.

I believe beauty requires effort; no matter how small, there is a certain extra effort.

My definitoin: Beauty is that thing when you experience it you walk away feeling uplifted.

Pleasure is short-lived, no matter how intense. But a thing of Beauty is a Joy forever, as someone said. A well crafted meal,

a well kept room, a play by Shakespeare, Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue: they all make you feel this way independent of their message.

Beauty endures. Lesser, even evil people have created beautiful things, but their beauty is still beautiful.

The meal disappears, but the experience of beauty is remembered.

Beauty implies form; even paintings that appear formless have an idea under girding them, a driving force.

Some things are beautiful, and some are not. Some people somehow got the idea that because there can be a disagreement about

a work of art, the concept of beauty is bankrupt.

And that makes for interesting, potentially beautiful, conversation, (another art form).