Beauty and the beautiful aren’t often on my mind, in any sense of the terms. Although, as I typed that sentence out, I thought back on the day when I commented on how beautiful my partner looked in her new sunglasses and how pretty the day was thanks to the sun finally coming out after days of snow. Does that latter comment constitute “beauty?” Is there a difference between “pretty” and “beautiful?”
“For Burke (1757) ‘an eternal distinction’ between the Sublime and the Beautiful is that the former is founded on pain, thus capable of producing the strongest emotion that the mind is able to feel, whereas the latter is founded on pleasure.” - from Ohnuki-Tierney’s Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers.
While beauty may be founded on pleasure, would that necessarily mean that anything that causes pleasure is beautiful, in a less conventional sense?
I feel like I derive pleasure from many things: the feel of a cool breeze on my face, the shining of the sun after long ugly days, the thought that people I love may be happy, the nostalgic chills an old song gives, or the silent pride I feel when I actually give time to decipher the mess of thoughts and emotions I have in my head. Are all of these a thing of beauty, then? Maybe it would just be easier to not think about it and say “yes!”
Behind all of these seemingly beautiful moments there’s the existence of the ugly: the snowy days that give rise to the pleasure of the sun, the fact that the people I love may not necessarily be happy, or the countless days where I don’t bother poking and prodding at my head and allow shit to rummage around in there. All of these seem like points that inspire pain, or are founded on pain, such as the Sublime is. I don’t actually know what the Sublime means, I’m just talking out of my ass and letting that quote do some heavy-lifting. Still, there seems to be elements of pain behind these “beautiful” acts.
Lol I really don’t wanna come out of this with the boring conlusion that “pain is beautiful” or whatever. I don’t think it is. But pain, pleasure, and beauty obviously have a relationship with each other.
They’re all kissy among themselves.
Fuck this I’m going to bed.