Thursday, January 9, 2014

Beauty's Bounty?

Can there be but one beauty for all? We drive different cars, and when having the same, choose different colours. Not every husband looks like Rock Hudson. Not every girl looks like Raquel Welch. I like Goldie Hawn. A friend finds "little about her" attractive. He prefers Angela Lansbury. And should you not know the difference between a Karmann Ghia or a Goggemobile you too may not know what it is that drives another's choice. There are paintings of three stripes that have fetched millions. There are masterworks that get no offers. And many a beauty, male or female, serves us somewhere and is never given opportunity to be splurged upon the silver screen. It is the old adage, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder." It can arrest the individual. Yet many a rose is passed by.

We easily judge. Something in us, as Randy Newman satirizes, "hates" another. Some of us like pigs; others just eat them. Some of us like horses. (From what I see in movies, most cowboys just ride them.) We take a stand; we adopt a stance; we make a decision never to support this or that political party; never to be swayed by that or this contention. We are raised to suspect "fence sitters". We are raised to make a choice. We are given to understand that preference becomes want which in turn becomes need. And we are embarrassed to be seen wearing certain clothes, driving in certain vehicles, being with certain others. We define ourselves according to the likes and dislikes inherent to us. And we circumscribe our lives by the proclivities of our practice. Our circumspection may grow by dint of influence, intentional or not. Yet we readily can cauterize the potential of acquiring new tastes. We baulk at the threat of being overwhelmed. Not all of us like simplicity. Many of us do not like complication. Beauty is given terms, Rococo, Dada-esque, or Abstraction. Instinctively, we like, love, find it appealing, or are turned off.

Point is that tastes change. Point is that the beauty is ephemeral. Point is that Sophia Loren may stay incredible, but she (and her physique) will be described in that ubiquitous phrase "for her age." And the point is that we look for beauty according to what we each have been accustomed to find beautiful. A Zulu beauty is quite different from Twiggy. A Ruben's beauty is quite different from today's. And we ourselves are quite different as we age from the younger persons we once looked like, year by year.

For me beauty exists in the gleam of accord in another's eye. That person can be of any size or shape, wear whatever, have a hairstyle of whatever, be driving whatever, be doing whatever, but when I see the interested interaction of care, appreciation, concentration or reciprocation with any given other, be it a sunset, a flower, a gift, or in converse with another, there's something in me that is invigorated by the beauty of that person's very being, seen in the energy in their eyes, in that moment. (And given that all around oneself there is a constancy of beauty, from the lift of a gull's wing to the shape of a grass blade, there is much of beauty by which readily to be invigorated.) When another person looks, and feels an accord with something, I see in them what for me is beauty, utterly.

Beauty is the link that binds us. The paradox is, it divides us too. Dylan and Domingo in the same CD collection is one thing, but Koos Kombuis and Chris Chameleon? Which part of Everything is not? The esoteric remains for the initiated; unless we identify we do not relate. (And to stretch ourselves to find out something takes often too much effort.) Just how to see ugly as beautiful too? Why is it then that some people can paint or photograph a junk yard?

Beauty, for me, indeed remains in the eye of the beholder. For you?

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