Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 10/24/2022
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is usually attributed to Plato, with the attendant meaning that the perception of beauty is subjective and transient. What I find beautiful you may find mundane or even ugly.
Really? The Mona Lisa? The Grand Canyon? Sunset on Nantucket? The David? The Pietà? Appalachian Spring?
We are under the trance of science these days (trying to explain away a universe we really don’t have a clue about). One wouldn’t say, “Well, the speed of light is in the eye of the beholder,” or “I have other ideas about water being H2O.”
Just because beauty can’t be scientifically proved doesn’t mean that it’s totally and solely relative, does it? Does any rational person want to remove forests and pave the land with asphalt because the result would be more beautiful?
Western liberalism has placed an emphasis on individual taste and judgment. But if someone standing next to me on the edge of the Grand Canyon told me it was unimpressive, I’d conclude the person has neither taste nor judgment, or is merely dissembling. (If you read social media daily, you have a surfeit of proof of a lack of taste and judgment.)
I understand that some people find tattoos or piercings attractive, for example, even if I don’t, but those are simply legitimate differences in taste (or life style). But if you make that final turn in the Accademia Gallery in Firenze and see The David for the first time, and you tell me you’re not impressed, well, there’s something missing in your experience and perspective.
I find “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” somewhat dismissive. While not as scientific or factual, perhaps, as water boiling at 212° Fahrenheit, think about looking at a newborn baby for the first time. It seems to me that’s an act of universal beauty no less consistent than the laws of gravity.
I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains. —Anne Frank
Beauty awakens the soul to act. —Dante Alighieri
To love beauty is to see light. —Victor Hugo