Sunday, September 15, 2013

Recognizing beauty

When I was in high school I spent a lot of time browsing the internet for nothing more than pictures of pretty things. I copied folders, discs, thumb drives, you name it with pictures of things that I thought were pretty. I spent loads of time just trying to appreciate pretty things. There were obviously some I liked better than others, but I would literally just sit there, look at the screen, and appreciate the beauty that other people had managed to capture in those little lighted pixels.

When I had learned about what Plato described as the idea of beauty, it made me think about why it was that I collected these images. Plato thought of things as Forms. Beauty is a Form or an ideal. There is really no existing object in the world that can embody all of the aspects of beauty, but objects that you call beautiful have some aspect or another of what would be considered part of the Form of beauty. It is an idea in your head of what beauty is, not an actual thing. Each person perceives the Form of beauty in their own way. Thus what aspects are contained in the Form of beauty, can be debated by individuals. For example the color of an apple can be the aspect of beauty that you see in the apple. Thus Beauty must be in part the color of that apple. Another example is the smell of a tree. If that is something associated with beauty, then the Form of beauty must include both the color of the apple and the smell of the tree. So, if a person were to try to convey the entire essence of the Form of beauty, they would spend the rest of their life trying to collect all of these aspects, and in the end, most likely have collected the entire world as a demonstration of beauty.

That last bit is part of my own conclusion. Because it occurred to me that if I were to completely understand why it was I had so many countless images of beauty collected on my computer, and yet I was still collecting them, I needed to understand the Form of beauty. When I understood that no single picture or object could account for all of the aspects of the Form of beauty, I decided to change my way of thinking. I didn't need to search for that illusive picture that I could look at and find perfect beauty. All I had to do was to recognize the aspects of beauty in everything that is around me.

This idea changes the way you can see the world around you. when you are looking for aspects of a Form in everything you will probably find it. Everything has at least one aspect of beauty about it. When you learn to recognize that aspect of beauty in an everyday object, it is harder to take that object for granted any more. It is in part Beautiful and that is really all you can hope for since nothing can personify all of the beauty.

What all of this had taught me is that even when the house is a mess, and I feel disheveled and not nearly as pretty as I want to be, I and my home at least still share some aspects with the Form of beauty. When I feel down about my own looks, I can still see that I am not completely ugly, the color of my hair is still an aspect of beauty, or the shape of my eyes are an aspect of beauty. When it feel like the house is an uncontrollable  mess I can at least say that I still surround myself with things of beauty. The dirt on the floor has some aspect of beauty, and the dirty dishes still have aspects of beauty, even if they are covered in grime.

I try not to let this reasoning stop me from maintaining my house, but I also realize that it is still beautiful in its own way. I just work to clean and keep up appearances to include more aspects of beauty in my home, but when it is messy, it is not like I have no beauty around me to appreciate. It is just a little hidden, all I have to do it look at it in the right light to find it again.

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