08 September 2010

Definition of the day

Beauty: simplicity + depth of field

As an example

A starry moonlight night is generally regarded as a tranquil and beautiful object to perceive.

What makes it powerful though, beautiful, isn't the scene, which is quite simple. It's the powerful factors that had to interact to create it. The effects of light waves bounding through the atmosphere after traveling millions and billions and trillions of miles to get here. The small space that humanity, this planet, and so on must occupy in the infinite vastness of space. When you really look at it, it's a powerful, and reflective effect on the day that passed to reach that view, that night.

Most flowers have this effect also, as a smaller thing. There's the intricacies of the natural process to develop and evolve flowering plants to spread a form of life, to use pollen and seed gathering insects to spread it further, and then to be cultivated by human beings for their own unique visual purposes. And then there's the simplicity of the thing in itself, the shapes and colours as they catch our eyes and the scent as it wafts through the air. We may squabble and argue over seemingly much larger things than the "perfect beauty" (such as humans can perceive) of a night sky or a flower, but I think what we're actually arguing about is usually the same things over and over again. Beauty ultimately is a concept of elegant perfection that takes its forms throughout our society, through political philosophies and ethical systems and empirical analysis "down to" appreciation of art and music and food and sex.

It's all the same object. We just have very different eyeballs and ears and noses and minds for perceiving it and ordering it together, and ultimately, must suffer through the indignity of making use of a word to try to capture what that means to us personally and express it to another that unique perspective.
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