Tag Archives: opinion

An Aesthete’s Musings

Its 6:46 AM when I am writing this, I’ve spent the whole night staying awake thinking about stuff that matters, stuff that doesn’t and just some random meaningless stuff. Out of those musing is this post is born out. In the wee hour of morning somehow my chain of thoughts ended up on the concept of beauty. Having spent more than two years living in Scandinavia I’ve noticed a difference in the collective societal thinking of my homeland and this place. It is not to say that there is only a single difference, there are many..some marked and some subtle, this one although subtle but is perhaps significant since to me it looks like to be affecting a vast majority of youngster out there in here. In fact in much of the youth I’ve noticed it behind so many significant life choices they make that it astonishes me.  People who think they are fat want to be thin, thin want to be fat (or ‘less thin’ might be the right way to put it), pale wants to be tanned and tan (basically brown people) want to be white, it all seems to be a rat race of wannabe this or that or less of this or more of that.

I don’t want to sound too clichéd but beauty, to me (or at least what I think about how I think it is, there might be moments where I might be susceptible to the collective societal thinking)is a relative term, just like it was to Plato and by affect to Socrates as it was Platonic-Socrates that makes a reference to this string of thought in Phaedo, it is said that Socrates on his deathbed was involved in a discussion with two other Pythagorean philosophers and he purports the idea that beauty is a relative term, they are relative in a sense that whether or not something should be called beautiful or not is dependent upon the basis of comparison with the opposite, i.e. ugly. He used this analogy to conclude that just like beautiful comes from ugly and vice versa then so does the living come from the dead and hence the dead must exist as souls in Hades, he died at the conclusion of this discussion. Though the conclusion is of no particular philosophical value but the comparison drawn to prove it is not, at least in my opinion.

The Death of Socrates (1778)

The Death of Socrates as depicted by the French painter Jacques-Louis David.

Something else I find fascinating  about the concept of beauty (and remarkably superficial in the common societal concept of it) is the different ways it can be perceived, it’s not the slim, tall, blonde and blue-eyed maiden that is considered the most beautiful universally, but apparently in certain remote tribes of Uganda and Mauritania it is the extremely obese women who are thought of as knock-out babes, and the individual anatomical feature thought of as epitomizing the beauty are the stretch marks, while the slim women are thought of as malnourished and ugly, proves the point that Socrates and Plato were not that far off-mark in their thinking.  To stretch the point of perceptions, the most interesting perception of beauty I’ve ever heard of or read is that one defined by Haruki Murakami, in almost all his novels. The romantic interest of his protagonists are mostly women with below-average looks but the trait that attracts the protagonists most (and by extension probably to Murakami himself) is the way they move, generally or  when performing different tasks that attracts him most, it’s the nimble, swift,  precise economical movements and the body language that leaves him in awe..Not the looks.  To me it sounds like an incredible depth of perception and an interesting observation on the concept of beauty and how diversely it may be perceived.
So I guess what I am trying to say here in this untangled jumble of thoughts is that we as a specie should stop dragging our societies towards the superficial and should be graceful instead because you see it is ok to care about appearances but the moment one gets affected by them, weather when it comes to one’s own or the other’s, is the moment one becomes judgmental and judgmental people are never gracious and I for one, and perhaps it applies to everyone, will take grace over glib any day.