“Wow! That’s beautiful!” was the enthusiastic and highly animated response that my dear friend’s four-year-old daughter would say to just about anything she found even remotely exciting, cute, adorable, or beautiful. Whether it was her little brother reaching a developmental milestone or the floral cushions on my couch.
In celebration of this week’s photo challenge Rise/Set, I couldn’t help but think about not only the brilliant colors and light refractions that define the beauty of sunrises and sunsets, but the beautiful representation of another day gone and another day to come.
In trying to pick out a beautiful photo, I also found it rather difficult to separate the aesthetic appeal from the personal value attached to it. Value in the form of awe-inspiring moments and places shared with family and friends while watching the sun’s disappearance or emergence from the horizon.
In celebration of beauty, I’d like to first present various definitions of the word. The Merriam-Webster dictionary says “beauty is the quality of being physically attractive, the qualities in a person or a thing that give pleasure to the senses or the mind. “The example provided is described as being full of beauty, such as a beautiful woman.
Interestingly enough when beautiful first became a part of the English language, it was used to describe men as much as it was of women. Nowadays, handsome is the adjective of appreciation most commonly used of men.
Ancient Greek Society used the word kalos (“beautiful”) to describe the aesthetic viewing pleasure of objects and people in addition to morally admirable character. Translations describe it as an adjective meaning “good” or “of fine quality.” Saint Augustine ascribed the origin of beauty, goodness, and existence, as coming from the Creator alone. Plato attributed beauty, goodness, and justice as divine existences and of divine realm.
Alexander G. Baumgarten coined the term “aesthetics” in the 18th century and the literal meaning was a study of human sensibility. Later, in the 19th century, French philosopher Victor Cousin would state “Moral beauty is the basis of all true beauty.”
More recently, Forbes magazine published an article in Spring of 2017 about the estimated $445 billion in sales from at least 40 new beauty companies that were founded by women. While this astronomical amount of value on beautifying products and services may raise some eyebrows, I don’t think it’s a surprise that many of the beautifying marketing terms and techniques are geared towards youthfulness.
It’s a significant contrast; however, to the Koine Greek roots for the word beauty which means “hour” as in the literal appeal of “being of one’s hour.”
One of my all-time favorite films about life and culture is Fiddler on the Roof. I remember listening to the song “Sunrise, Sunset” and being intrigued by it’s hypnotic tune while attending my 4th grade music class. The song is quite subdued and was performed at the wedding of Tevye and Golde’s eldest daughter. It’s a beautiful song about time passing by as depicted by the sunrise and sunset.
Is this the little girl i carried,
Is this the little boy at play?
I don’t remember growing older, when did they?
When did she get to be a beauty,
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn’t it yesterday when they were small?
Sunrise sunset, sunrise sunset
Swiftly flow the days.
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers,
Blossoming even as we gaze.
Sunrise sunset, sunrise sunset,
Swiftly fly the years,
One season following another,
Laiden with happiness and tears.
What words of wisdom can i give them,
How can i help to ease their way?
Now they must learn from one another, day by day.
They look so natural together.
Just like two newlyweds should be.
PERCHIK & HODEL:
Is there a canopy in store for me?
Sunrise sunset, sunrise sunset,
Swiftly fly the years,
One season following another,
Laiden with happiness, and tears
Here’s about a quarter of my collection of sample perfumes, many of which are impart due to product substitutions from Sephora. Interestingly enough, the name Sephora comes from the Greek spelling of Zipporah, which can mean “little bird,” likely from the beautiful phonetic sound of chirping. Zipporah was also the wife to Moses from the Bible. Scholars have described her as having positively beautiful traits both physically and in her influential social disposition.
But there is one very memorable perfume that debuted in 1985. I remember my grandma wearing it and being gifted to me when it made its reemergence in the 90s. Estée Lauder’s vision, carried out by Evelyn Lauder, was to create a fragrance that made every woman feel she was the most beautiful woman in the room. Beautiful is represented by a bride and is said to be a perfume of a thousand flowers. It’s described as romantic, feminine, and memorable with a rich blend of rose, lily, tuberose, and orange flower. It has notes of brightness due to citrus and warm base notes of sandalwood, vetiver, and amber. It’s very nostalgic for me.
In this post I’d also like to introduce you to a few things, in different forms of media, that I have found to be beautiful and I hope you can enjoy them as much as I have.
I have a great appreciation for the celebration of beauty through makeup. One book that I’ve been reading (though it’s taken me forever to finish because of what I like to call “Wikipedia spiral”), is Face Paint: The Story of Makeup by Lisa Eldridge. She’s a talented makeup artist who put together a well-curated historical timeline of people and events through the use of different makeup mediums and applications.
It’s interesting to read about the extremes people went to in order to achieve and maintain an aesthetically-pleasing appearance which was often thought of as charm, elegance, nobility, importance, high social status, and power. Cosmetics of the past were often laden with arsenic or lead, such as in the Venetian ceruse. And there were transition periods between ignorance of such ill-effects and outright denial and defiance for the sake of beauty at the expense of one’s health. Interestingly enough, we can still see practice of this concept in mainstream culture to a certain degree today.
With this, I can’t help but think about a beautiful sermon which Martin Luther King Jr. gave called The Drum Major Instinct. The sermon was an adaptation of the 1952 discourse “Drum-Major Instincts” by J. Wallace Hamilton. King brought up the familiar phrase keeping up with the Joneses and the human desire for importance, among many other social inferences.
I will also note that 50 years ago today, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and it’s amazing how his sermons are still relevant today. He didn’t necessarily self-depreciate, but instead, celebrated his life accomplishments using a very different standard. “Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice… Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”
I think the celebration of beauty, talents, and accomplishments appreciated by other people from this aspect are often undervalued. Some people may have a distorted view of humility and hence a hard time responding to compliments at times. They refute them instead of simply saying “Thank you” or dumb them down for the sake of reciprocity.
I think it’s important to learn how to better acknowledge someone else’s appreciation. After watching too many episodes of Shark Tank, it’s actually become an ongoing joke in my family that after someone compliments you or after sharing something you did well, we follow it up with the words “That’s one thing I really like about myself.” It brings a comical, yet subtle satirical, humble tone to something that someone else has appreciated. On that side note, wouldn’t you love to see a Mr. Wonderful doll be made where you pull a string and out comes some of Kevin’s most self-acknowledging phrases?
In attempt to gain a better appreciation of the arts in the form of writing, painting, language, and photography, I’ve been enjoying all that The Great Courses Plus has to offer. I highly recommend you check out their courses. It’s a great way to feed your passion for lifelong learning and give you a fresh perspective of beauty and inspiration.
Stefan Kunz is amazing at lettering art. I like his motto “Create something today even if it sucks!”
On that same note, there is a young man from Kazakhstan named Dimash Kudaibergen whose voice has been declared as having the most amazing in the world. He sings with beautiful resonance and it’s amazing how he can control his voice, spanning 5 octaves, 4 tones, and a half tone, effortlessly. From lower baritone to whistle, when you think he’s done tagging the chorus and showcasing the max of his talent range, he takes it up not only a key, but a full octave at times.
Idealistic proportions, such as the form of the golden ratio in creative design, makes for beautiful architecture. This is done in attempt to find universal validity by applying various mathematical equations. Near perfect symmetry contributes to the mesmerizing fascination of beautiful butterfly wings like this one I shot a while back.
A beautiful story, The Broccoli Tree: A Parable, John Green tells about a tree famously photographed by Patrik Svedberg.
Sunrises and sunsets. I’m always in awe of them.
This was a long one but I hope you enjoyed it.
Let me know about your appreciation of beautiful things that you’d like to share, something that has made you say “Wow! That’s beautiful!”