Creating Beauty

Creating beauty requires love, skill, and craftsmanship. Displaying beauty well requires a good eye, appreciation, and adequate raw materials. Copying beauty without keeping its essence requires none of the above.

What is beauty? Half my library is devoted to this discussion. We all know beauty when we see it, but pinning it down is problematic. One can consider it a whisper of truth, a window into the infinite, an absolute.

“But beautiful things, … always carry greetings from other worlds within them.”

Elaine Scarry, On Beauty and Being Just, pg 47

Creating beauty from raw materials requires an intimate knowledge of the materials to be used, skill, sweat, tears – and a vision. Take a luthier – to make a violin on par with a Stradivarius, one must know wood (oh to find the singing wood!), stains, strings, how the shape of a hole or its placement affects the physics of sound and even how the direction of one’s woodplane affects the final result. Such skill, such knowledge, is not cheaply bought. It cannot be replicated with industrial machines or laser cutters – only imitated.

Displaying beauty, on the other hand, while it is best done with respect, need not cost years of sweat and missed marks. One needs beauty, and one must not cheapen it. Rosepetals or the cheek of a young girl do not require glitter to be seen clearly – but one must see the emepheral, translucency of either in order to encourage others to use it as a window to another world.

The difference is much like the difference between French cooking, with intricate sauces and many ingredients and Italian cooking, which relies more heavily on the freshest ingredients presented simply.

Beauty creates within us a hunger, that is part of its nature. The hunger is not merely for the object, but for the other worlds within it, for that precious drop of truth, of what is Real beyond Reality.

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