SEEING BEAUTY

BY: JAMES F. O’NEIL

“Oh, say, can you see…”

Yes, I admit, I am always on the “look” out for things “beautiful.”

“Beauty is only skin deep.” “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.”

Yes, as I was often told, and taught in school, me with acne-filled pores.

“Beauty,” says Thomas Aquinas, is “That which seen pleases.”  I had a more difficult time with this one saying, both in philosophy class and in my art history classes. [Aquinas…is still being interpreted.]

How do I know what beauty is? Will it be like pornography, as the Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart defined that: “I know it when I see it” [Jacobellis v. Ohio, 1964]? (Can pornography–whatever it is–be beautiful?) Therefore, seeing, looking then is pleasing.

Ah, the beauty of it all. Oh, that ‘57 Chevy, candy-apple red hardtop, so pleasing, so beautiful!

“One man’s trash is another’s treasure.” As in, “That was a beautiful garage sale.” Or, in American Pickers: “That Texaco sign is just in beautiful condition.”

TEXACO SIGNTEXACO SIGN Credit: eBay

And what about a beautiful Scotch? “Single-malt, 15-year-old: just beautiful. Look at that color!” However, what about the taste? No dispute, is there, with taste/tastes?

“Mmm, mmm good. Mmm, mmm good. Campbell’s soups are mmm, mmm good.” Andy Warhol could attest to that!

ANDY AND SOUP CANANDY AND SOUP

What do you like? Any favorites? Is it/are they “beautiful”? The kids? The small of a woman’s back (in Kevin Costner’s litany in Bull Durham)? The Mona Lisa?

But about Venus de Milo, the original, which I saw in the Louvre, not the #2 pencil, not Salvador Dali’s huge “magnificent” symbolic painting, but the original: How can it/she be “beautiful”? No arms. Measurements just not “right” [34”-31.2”-40.8”], or . . . . “Look at those hips!” Some beauty. Out of proportion. Proportion is that essential quality of beauty, says those aestheticians (those who decide what is aesthetic or “beautiful”–or “art”–and there is Thomas Aquinas, again).

VENUS DE MILOVENUS DE MILO

And something beautiful is also supposed to be good because of integrity, wholeness. It’s “bad” (even sometimes originally translated as “evil”), from any little defect. (I have always mused over “flawed” and “flawless” diamonds, even those “beautiful” three-carat, “cloudy” ones!) [Our engagement ring, 51 years ago, was a AAA, 0.39-carat, about the only affordable “way back then.” But how beautiful!]

Aesthetics: too philosophical for me.

And so, what could be beautiful?

Could be a song or musical piece (“Moon River” or Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony); could be a color or something colorful (burnt sienna or a sunset over the Gulf of Mexico); could be a building (certainly nothing “Gaudi”!), like Hagia Sophia; could be a “babbling brook”; could be a Girl with a Pearl Earring, the book, the painting, the movie (how beautiful is that?!); could be that ice-cold RC Cola washing down a Moon Pie (Yum! Right beautiful!); could be all those older couples holding hands, older sisters, younger brothers; could be an emotionally charged and tear-evoking episode of Grey’s Anatomy, or a scene from Shakespeare in Love or Romeo and Juliet; could be a Serta, or Sealy Posturepedic for a beautiful night’s sleep.

Could be.

Oh, I can’t get enough. Looking for the pleasures to be found in The Beautiful.

“O Beautiful, for spacious skies…amber waves of grain…mountain majesties….”

Can you see? See? Do you see what I see? Can you find the beauty? Are you looking?

Remember: “‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,’”–that is all…ye need to know.” –John Keats

© JAMES F. O’NEIL   4 JULY 2014

sunset over cape coralSUNSET

 

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7 comments
  1. THANKS. I AM “VACATIONING,” SO BLOGGING IS NOT GOING WELL. BUT I TRY TO KEEP UP WITH MY READINGS. REGARDS, JIM O

  2. mcwoman said:

    You have stirred my gray matter with this piece, Jim. I was going to say my favorite beautiful thing was a summer sunset on the water when the sky becomes swirls of so many colors. But then there’s Monet’s paintings and my little pug Ernie, and the diamond ring Ken gave me when we pledged our love for each other, and on and on. I think when you let in beauty, your heart rejoices and spreads the wonderful feeling through your entire being. Great piece. Thanks. Barbara

    • Thanks for the response. That diamond ring is a real beauty, right? And sunsets? Awe-ful… Kindest regards. JIM

  3. Beauty depends on who sees it, some people find everything beautiful, others only see the ugliest in everything. I like the TEXACO sign, when I was a kid my father used this oil in his trucks, it brought me good memories.

    • I AM “ENJOYING” YOUR POSTINGS. I LIKE PHOTOGRAPHY, THOUGH I AM NOT A PHOTOGRAPHER. WE JUST RECENTLY VISITED ROSCOE, OHIO–A RESTORED VILLAGE. IN THE MUSEUM IS A CURRENT DISPLAY OF SIGNS AND TRAYS MADE BY COMPANIES IN COSHOCTON, OHIO–THE BEGINNING OF PUBLIC ADVERTISING. I WAS IN BLISSFUL HEAVEN… KINDEST REGARDS, JIM O

  4. Certainly a lot to consider in this piece, and to set one thinking about what each of us all find beautiful. Well written and interesting post…

    • THANKS FOR THE COMMENT. AND I DO LIKE SUNSETS AND DIAMONDS… REGARDS, JIM O

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