Archive | June 2017

Beauty and Pathos

 

While I have defined beauty as something delights, inspires, and enriches, I honestly have to admit that beauty is nearly always accompanied by a brush of pathos. Even as I revel in the enchantment of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, in the pleasure of a mesmerizing sunset hanging over the high plains that is so gorgeous it almost seems artificial, in the satisfaction of careful make-up and flattering outfits, or in the joy expressed by a baby’s spontaneous laughter, I also feel a twinge of longing, mostly because I know the gratification will be temporary. The music stops. The sunset darkens into night. The mascara runs. The sweater is snagged. The baby cries as unexpectedly he began to laugh.

 

And yet, even the mere memory of any particular delight of beauty continues to lift my spirits. And for that reason, I seek it zealously where ever I can find it. I need beauty at least as intensely as an addict needs a “fix.” Life is tough for all of us, and much of our current, crass culture encourages depression. But beauty can stem the tide of despondency and lift one to another level of existence. I want to create it, see it, hold it, hear it, feel it in every possible way because each experience of beauty becomes nourishment that heals my soul.

 

I want to walk in beauty every day.

 

Copyright 2017 by Kaye Fairweather

F. Scott Fitzgerald on Beautiful Women

 

“She was beautiful, but not like those girls in the magazines. She was beautiful, for the way she thought. She was beautiful, for the sparkle in her eyes when she talked about something she loved. She was beautiful, for her ability to make other people smile, even if she was sad. No, she wasn’t beautiful for something as temporary as her looks. She was beautiful, deep down to her soul. She is beautiful.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

 

PS: These are two easily available photos that I think illustrate Fitzgerald’s idea of a beautiful woman. I invite anyone who reads this to add their own pics of women who fit his guidelines with a comment.

Can Beauty Save The World? Luis Haza’s Answer

 

Luis’ father was Chief of Police in Santiago, Cuba when Fidel Castro first gained power and forced an end to Batista’s government. At first, Col. Haza gladly supported the Castro brothers, believing that a sparkling new era of freedom was just on the horizon. But, like many Cubans, he openly objected when the new regime admitted its Communist intentions.

Like all revolutionaries, Castro then methodically began to kill or imprison anyone in any position of authority who did not value the new rules and turn of events. Thus, the Chief of Police and seventy other men were lined up in a nearby cow pasture and shot for their lack of appreciation.

Eight-year-old Luis Haza found solace for his grief only when funneling energy and attention into violin lessons. By age eleven, he began performing solos all over the country. When he was twelve, the Castro regime “invited” him to perform for a gala television special to be shown nationwide.

Instead, Luis chose not to show up for his great “honor.” A few days later, a group of armed soldiers stormed his home, broke into his practice studio, and demanded that he play for them – or else.

Trembling, the young lad picked up his bow and violin. Slowly, gingerly he began to play just as the soldiers had insisted. But the government thugs were stupefied into silence and paralyzed with uncertainty as the unmistakable strains of ‘The Star Spangled Banner” filled the room.

Luiz Haza escaped from Cuba, grew up in the United States, and continued his life as a human rights advocate, violin virtuoso, and Grammy Award winning conductor. After performing in many venues around the world, gaining both acclaim and accolades, Haza now serves as Music Director and Conductor for the Coastal Symphony of Georgia.

Beauty did save his world!

Can Beauty Really Save The World?

“Beauty will save the world” is a well-known quote from Dostoevsky’s novel, The Idiot. Furthermore, the “idiot” speaks that particular line. But most readers dismiss it as creative hyperbole, a totally impractical weapon against the ever present evil one encounters.

However, when fellow Russian, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, could not leave the Soviet Union in 1970 to accept his Nobel Prize for Literature, he used Dostoevsky’s line in an acceptance letter as a spring board for sharing himself with the world beyond the Iron Curtain.

In his introduction, the former prisoner of the infamous Gulag admitted that he had downplayed the importance of that statement for years. Like most of the rest of the world, it seemed unrealistic – perhaps even idiotic. The stark horrors of life and death in the prison camps belied the possibility that beauty was anything more than ornamental.

But when he tried to write about those years and testify to the brutality encountered and the heroism observed, Solzhenitsyn began to reealize that beauty could effect change. How could anyone but a fellow prisoner understand the depravity inherent in forcing harsh government control over individuals without expressive writing? In other words, the presentation of his and others’ experiences must be beautifully written if the reader is to enter into their experience and learn from it.

Beautiful literature can at least begin changing the world.

Another towering figure of the twentieth century, Pope John Paul II, also referenced Dostoevsky’s belief about beauty in his Letter to Young Artists in 1999. First he acknowledges that each person is building his own life with every decision made and action performed. Hopefully all build lives of loving integrity that become works of art. He explains that while each person faces daunting challenges throughout life, the energy and enthusiasm needed to overcome them is found in beauty. In fact, he insists that “beauty will save the world” is a profound insight.

But the focus of the letter eloquently encourages artists to develop their talents for the common good, fully aware their work echoes God’s creativity. It will encourage present and future generations since beauty not only delights, but exhilarates.

Pope John Paul II’s closing sentences themselves inspire his readers:

““From chaos there rises the world of the spirit.” These words of Adam Mickiewicz, written at a time of great hardship for his Polish homeland, prompt my hope for you: may your art help to affirm that true beauty which, as a glimmer of the Spirit of God, will transfigure matter, opening the human soul to the sense of the eternal.”

 

Choose? Or Go Along to Get Along?

I see people every day who long for beauty, but easily settle for what is new, striking

or momentarily fashionable; then wonder at the emptiness inside.

 

 

“The human soul longs for things higher, warmer and purer than those offered by today’s mass living habits; introduced by the revolting invasion of publicity, by TV stupor, and by intolerable music.”

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn