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Thread: Define Beauty

  1. #1
    Senior Member Makers!*'s Avatar
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    Define Beauty

    Rainer Maria Rilke has a definition I wrestle with:

    "beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, which we are still just able to endure,
    and we are so awed because it serenely disdains to destroy us."

    From the Duino Elegy #1

    Serenely disdains to destroy is a great line. I think storm clouds and mountain peaks, oceanic waves. My problem is I want to ascribe beauty to other things, like flowers and women. Though, maybe, the latter can destroy, as they create.

    How do you define beauty?

  2. #2
    The Experience Catoptric's Avatar
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    When The Great Leader compels it:



    *****************

    Beauty is often the sublimation of symmetry, and the desire for it. If what is viewed as asynchronous is perceived as beauty, it is only due to the self-perceived flaw or exploitation of such in others. The same reason a deformed child is often stricken with suffering their entire life, and only eased from the burden of such a life due to the compassion of others. Why one nation would prefer to destroy another through radioactive waste and not their own, should hint at the inherent inferiority complex at play. That some are compelled to seek out slights of suffering for their own malaise, either through the creation or the vicarious identity compelled to comfort in it; is beauty.

  3. #3
    dormant jigglypuff's Avatar
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    it's when you understand something completely.

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    Senior Member Makers!*'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jigglypuff View Post
    it's when you understand something completely.
    Once I figure something out, I often lose interest.

  5. #5
    dormant jigglypuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Makers!* View Post
    Once I figure something out, I often lose interest.
    that's not what i mean, but i guess you can't convey the feeling this way, by trying to explain it. it's not something understood intellectually. it's a complete understanding that you feel, with your entire being.

    sometimes when i'm experiencing a landscape or a person (or even a political demonstration, fueled by a collective vision of a better world), pondering the state of things, i suddenly find myself looking mortality in the face, and accepting it completely.

    from trying to talk about this, i get the impression some people are very attuned to this feeling, while others don't experience it much at all.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mono_no_aware
    Last edited by jigglypuff; 06-10-2015 at 09:44 PM.

  6. #6
    Minister of Love Roger Mexico's Avatar
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    I don't know. I think mystery is a part of it.

    That which I understand fully seldom compels my attention. Something that hints at what I don't understand it about it is more likely to be hard to pull my attention away from.

    I'd say it's more the sense of possibility of understanding.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ptah View Post
    No history, no exposition, no anecdote or argument changes the invariant: we are all human beings, and some humans are idiots.

  7. #7
    Merry Christmas Blorg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jigglypuff View Post
    I like your whole post, and this is such a beautiful phrase. I feel like I've been looking for it for a long time. It reminds me of this quote:

    The nostalgia he felt, though, was not nostalgia for a particular place or person but a generalized nostalgia for what he called “time passing.” Cornell sensed, and in his art dramatized, the difference between two opposed kinds of nostalgia. What’s nostalgic in Cornell’s art is not that it’s made of old things; a lot of the things are so new that no one would have yet thought of them as potential art—Hollywood stills and penny-arcade chutes. What’s nostalgic is that, behind glass, fixed in place, the new things become old even as we look at them: it is the fate of everything, each box proposes, to become part of a vivid and longed-for past, as real and yet as remote from us as the Paris hotel we never got to. There is, he saw, a kind of nostalgia that posits a world that never existed and a set of virtues never put into practice—the kind that idealizes the heroic forties, or the roaring twenties, or the fabulous fifties—and a kind that finds a bottomless melancholy in the simple desolation of life by time. The false kind of nostalgia promotes the superiority of life past; the true kind captures the sadness of life passing.
    I think there's a strong link between nostalgia and beauty - there are different types of beauty, which produce and perpetuate different types of nostalgia. One type is "fashionable," maybe a bit garish, catching but empty: poshlost. It recycles old patterns without really hinting at anything new or interesting beneath the surface. Like the way lots of songs that people talk shit about reuse rhythms from songs that were popular in the past - engaging, beautiful rhythms - but don't go so far as to add a lasting "soul" of their own: a "soul" that people in the future will feel nostalgic about and inspired to copy. Another kind of beauty is better at holding its own. That type of beauty "captures the sadness of life passing." It's the transcendent type. The first type replicates old beauty effectively; the second type replicates old beauty while adding a new and beautiful soul to it, something that we will miss if no one replicates.

    Related to that, I think there's a link between sadness and beauty - it's called "heartaching beauty" for a reason. Beauty unites emotions that are usually kept in separate boxes, like sadness and joy. It creates new associations. In that way it's similar to how effective visual art makes use of negative space. Beauty takes disparate elements and heightens their difference, while also unifying them in unexpected ways.
    "Better not to feel too much until the crisis ends—and if it never ends, at least we’ll have suffered a little less, developed a useful dullness...The constant—and very real—fear of being hurt, the fear of death, of intolerable loss, or even of “mere” humiliation, leads each of us, the citizens and prisoners of the conflict, to dampen our own vitality, our emotional and intellectual range, and to cloak ourselves in more and more protective layers until we suffocate." - Toni Morrison

  8. #8
    igKnight Hephaestus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jigglypuff View Post
    that's not what i mean, but i guess you can't convey the feeling this way, by trying to explain it. it's not something understood intellectually. it's a complete understanding that you feel, with your entire being.
    I grok that.
    --Mention of these things is so taboo, they aren't even allowed a name for the prohibition. It is just not done.

  9. #9
    dormant jigglypuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Mexico View Post
    I don't know. I think mystery is a part of it.

    That which I understand fully seldom compels my attention. Something that hints at what I don't understand it about it is more likely to be hard to pull my attention away from.

    I'd say it's more the sense of possibility of understanding.
    i hate to do this again, but that reminds me of this term: yugen

    Quote Originally Posted by Dot View Post
    I think there's a strong link between nostalgia and beauty - there are different types of beauty, which produce and perpetuate different types of nostalgia. One type is "fashionable," maybe a bit garish, catching but empty: poshlost. It recycles old patterns without really hinting at anything new or interesting beneath the surface. Like the way lots of songs that people talk shit about reuse rhythms from songs that were popular in the past - engaging, beautiful rhythms - but don't go so far as to add a lasting "soul" of their own: a "soul" that people in the future will feel nostalgic about and inspired to copy. Another kind of beauty is better at holding its own. That type of beauty "captures the sadness of life passing." It's the transcendent type. The first type replicates old beauty effectively; the second type replicates old beauty while adding a new and beautiful soul to it, something that we will miss if no one replicates.

    Related to that, I think there's a link between sadness and beauty - it's called "heartaching beauty" for a reason. Beauty unites emotions that are usually kept in separate boxes, like sadness and joy. It creates new associations. In that way it's similar to how effective visual art makes use of negative space. Beauty takes disparate elements and heightens their difference, while also unifying them in unexpected ways.
    in my mind there's always been this strong link between nostalgia and (usually romantic) love, but i guess love is just the beauty you experience with/of another person.

    that creation of new associations is what makes it feel like you're being swallowed by something large and significant. it's experiencing sadness and joy, the past, present and future, and life and death, all in one moment.

    the idea of different types of beauty (timeless/deep VS superficial/current/old/trendy) is an interesting one and the experience of beauty does feel very timeless, but i wonder how much beauty is passed over and dismissed cuz it's perceived as trendy, elitist and/or commercially produced crap created for sheeple. it's all subjective (which is the beauty of it *slaps self*). this makes me think of distinctions between high & low brow in art which often seem pretty arbitrary, if you see it as who's fortunate enough to give the money/resources and who receives it (& if you see art history as the history of well-funded art; that's if you really wanna hurt your brain/heart/soul).

    thanks for that new term, poshlost. i didn't know that one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hephaestus View Post
    I grok that.
    huh... yeah. it's not something that has to be martian or otherworldly, though (maybe that's less beautiful to me :P).

  10. #10
    igKnight Hephaestus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jigglypuff View Post
    huh... yeah. it's not something that has to be martian or otherworldly, though (maybe that's less beautiful to me :P).
    I think it was a meta-pun at the expense of humans. The joke is that the idea of grokking is so far removed from normal human experience of things, it's otherworldly and alien.

    To put some context on it, we humans rarely grok anything--it's a special experience when we do, or think we do. But in the book, grokking things was just how Martians did things. They took the time to grok things, and did so frequently enough as to have a common verb to describe it.
    --Mention of these things is so taboo, they aren't even allowed a name for the prohibition. It is just not done.

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