My first response to Elaine Scarry’s, On Beauty and Being Just, is that this piece of literature is that I needed to read this several years ago. I’m saying before taking part on my own artistic journey and going further with my decision to pursue my education in the arts.
It lays a foundation that sets up a view to consider what is beauty and what we hold as beautiful. This is a topic that is a crucial element when participating in the arts, and even in this so-called world of design. I enjoyed the most significant part of the book where we were asked to think back to a point to where we made a mistake about considering beauty.
Many people will walk away from reading this book wondering, “Does the author define beauty?” I have to say I was looking for her definition, but I don’t feel that she did, nor would further seek for it. Thinking about it more, it would be her own interpretation or vision of what beauty is and I think it is up to personal identification and experience to consider beauty. I don’t think there is a matter of education that needs to be stated and reached before anyone can consider beauty. A farmer from Iowa and a banker from New York would most likely find beauty in different places. Would they both be wrong?
Keep your distance
I think there is a main focus on the errors or the mistakes that we all make within considering what is beautiful. I think she feels that holding something in beauty is destructing that object. She seems to be consistently maintaining a distance with a beautiful object. Perhaps meaning that we are always holding something within something that it is not. So this analyzing bids the questions, “How does beauty relate to truth?” “Can an object always live up to the standards and adjectives that we give it?” When she discusses people, I began to see how we view people as beautiful and their relation to it. It sort of “clicked” for me, that perhaps beauty and its consideration is definitely a property that is based on outwardly appearance and reacted to by what is on the surface.
As reading through this book I found myself criticizing the things that have been holding as beautiful. Not because it doesn’t hold some level of word, but I really broke them down into practical formal elements and saw them in a new way. This book gave me a new perspective on beauty.
What does beauty mean to you?