April 9, 2018
True Beauty: What Society is Lacking
Beauty is defined as a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight. This definition sheds light onto the public’s perception of beauty, which is all about how we see beauty. I agree that when you see something extraordinarily beautiful, it takes your breath away, and it knocks you off of your feet. In spite of that, I do believe that beauty is more than what you see, I believe it is also how you react when you see something extraordinary. Art can be beneficial to how we perceive beauty as is the case for The school of Life’s “What is Art For?” video. The video shows how we interact to different forms of art in our everyday lives, and how art can make us feel lonely, or how art can rebalance us. Art and Beauty have always been bound together, as when we see an incredible piece of artwork, we call it beautiful, or when we see a beautiful landscape, we call that art. In John Armstrong’s “La Bella Vita”, he proposes the question: “Can beauty help us become better people-as individuals and as a society?” I do believe it can help us to become better people, but I also think beauty and the artistic insights that comes along with something beautiful can help us become better individuals. To suggest that beauty only pleases the visual sense shows a lack of understanding of how the human mind reacts to beauty.
When Schiller explains both “drives”, It shows how certain spots in our brain can react differently when something beautiful is put in front of us. What makes people have a strong enough reaction to say “that’s beautiful”? This question sums up what exactly German poet Friedrich Schiller is looking for. “Instead of asking which things are beautiful, Schiller is curious about what is going on in us when we respond with distinctive, intimate thrill and enthusiasm that leads us to say ‘that’s beautiful’” (Armstrong 2). A lot of the attention that surrounds beauty is created from the “thrill and enthusiasm” that comes from talking about beauty. This is why most of what is shown to us on news outlets is very similar. The media will show the same pretty girl in a bikini over and over, not because she is actually beautiful, but because everyone is saying she is. This idea can be related to Schiller’s explanation of the two powerful psychological drives that are constantly working within our brains. The “sense” drive as Schiller explains “lives in the moment and seeks immediate gratification. It craves contact and possession”. The sense drive is how the public consumes beauty, the immediate reaction and the immediate gratification shows how beauty is incorporated into our thinking. We all want to feed the sense drive, living in the moment, seeking gratification, and craving contact is something everyone secretly wants. However, the sense drive is another example of how beauty is misunderstood in the eyes of the viewer.
The last time I saw something truly beautiful was the California coast. It was late March, and I had been stuck in Maine’s bone chilling weather for the whole winter. Being able to walk around in shorts and a t-shirt looking at the beautiful scenery was a good way for me to escape from all of the obligations I had at school. When I finally got to the coast I was blown away at what was in front of me. The deep blue abyss that is the pacific ocean stretched for as far as the eye can see, and the perfect blue sky laid lazaly across the horizon. Seeing something truly beautiful like the coast really knocked me off my feet. When you find something truly beautiful, you do not know exactly why you are drawn to it, but you know you have to see more of the beauty. When watching The School of Life’s “What is Art For?” video, it helps explain why we are drawn to such beautiful things, like a beautiful coastline. In the video the narrator talks about how art and especially beauty can rebalance us, and create a totally different perspective for us. I can understand this because before I went out to California, I was stuck in Maine, in the cold, and doing the same routine over and over. As soon as I saw the coast I honestly felt more alive and better about myself. I think seeing something so fascinating, and something so vast like the pacific ocean makes you feel small. However, the beauty you also see gives you a different perspective, and it is able to rebalance your thinking on art and especially beauty. From seeing this beautiful image, I felt better when I got back to school, the weather got warmer in Maine and I felt better about how I was living my life.
True beauty does not only adhere to the visual sense, but to the “sense” and “form” drives as well. The psychological power in our minds is driven by “form” and “sense”, and it is how we comprehend abstract understanding and rational order. This power that we have deep inside of our minds allows us to look at art and examine it with both sides of our brain, or both drives. We all have this power that Schiller explains and beauty and art have an impact on this power. “We can’t hope to see why beauty matters to us unless we pay attention to them both. If we want to understand beauty, we can’t just talk about things we find beautiful. We have to talk about our lives” (Armstrong 2). Schiller makes the point that life is beauty, which I agree with, and that we can not just talk about beauty, we have to experience it ourselves. Being able to experience beauty is not just looking at it, but to have knowledge and perspective about it, that is how someone can really experience beauty.
Art and beauty can also be used as a powerful tool and a platform to help social issues. Beauty comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and forms. As is the case for Jacob’s presentation about rap and hip-hop and its way of using poetry as a way of human expression. Jacob explains that this form of art can be used to solve social issues “Rap has effectively generated a way for young americans to voice the gruesome issues in their communities and has given the artist the power to create a change through the power of their verses” (Jacob 1). I believe that this is one of the most powerful forms of art, the language that rappers speak can promote change, and show beauty with the poetic insights that many of them use.
Beauty can be portrayed in many different forms, yet there are so many definitions of something being beautiful. It is because there are so many opinions on beauty, as the human mind is so unique, everyone thinks of beauty in a different way. “For Schiller, true beauty is whatever speaks powerfully to both sides of our nature at the same time. When we find something beautiful, we are called towards a vision of harmonious perfection”. (Armstrong 3).
Armstrong, John. “La Bella Vita .” Aeon, Aeon, 26 Apr. 2018, aeon.co/essays/can-beauty-help-us-to-become-better-people.
“Let’s Talk About Art.” Jacob O’Neill, 3 Apr. 2018, joneill7.uneportfolio.org/2018/04/05/blog-13/.