Thursday, July 17, 2014

Published 9:04 AM by with 0 comment

Thoughtful Thursday: Human Reaction to the Beautiful

"Well, why has this... why has this happened?"

Domenica sighed. "It's happened for a very simple reason," she said. "It's a matter of human reaction to the beautiful. It's a matter of aesthetics."

"I feel this way about Bruce because he's..." It was difficult for her to say it, but the word was there in the air between them.

"Precisely," said Domenica. "And that's nothing new, is it? That's how people react to beauty, in a person or an object. We become intoxicated with it. We want to be with it. We want to possess it. And when that happens, we shouldn't be the least bit surprised, although we often are.

It's an age old issue," she went on. "Our reaction to the beautiful occurs in the face of every single one of our intellectual pretensions. We may be very well aware that the call of beauty is a siren-call, but that doesn't stop it from arresting us, seizing us, rendering us helpless. A soul-beguiling face will make anybody stop in their tracks, in spite of themselves."


Pat looked at him, and noticed the way that the hairs lay flat against the skin of his wrist, and the way that one of his eyebrows was slightly shorter than the other, as if it had been shaved off. And she noticed, too, his eyes, which she had never really looked at before, and the way the irises were flecked with gray. 

And Matthew, for his part, suddenly noticed that Pat had small ears, and that one of them had two piercings. For a few moments neither spoke, as each felt sympathy for the other, as the same conclusion - quite remarkably- occurred to each: here is a person, another, who is so important to himself, to herself, and so weak, and ordinary, and human as we all are.


Those regularly-featured Hollywood males made her feel slightly nauseous; and the same could be said for their females equivalents, hardly intellectuals they. These peole had regular features but were actually ugly because they tended to be so completely vacuous. Regularity without some metaphysical value behind it, some beauty of soul or character, was more disappointing- and indeed repulsive- than the honestly haphazard, the humanly messy. 

It was more disappointing because it promised something that was not there: it should engage the soul, but did not. It was shallow and meretricious. So Mother Teresa of Calcutta, with her weepy eyes and her lined face, was infinitely more beautiful than...? Than the current icons of feminine beauty? Than that woman who called herself Madonna (whoever she was)? Of course Mother Teresa was more beautiful- infinitely so. Only a culture with a thoroughly upside-down sense of values could think otherwise. 

And that, mused Domenica ruefully, is precisely the sort of culture we have become.

~ Excerpts from 44 Scotland Street, by Alexander McCall Smith

A thoughtful quote can be the bridge that leads us farther
along the path of understanding ourselves and the world.