Sigrun Olafsdottir’s perfume reviews come as a breath of fresh air. Her descriptions are often unusual, yet spot on. I still remember her review of Aftelier’s Cepes and Tuberose, and how, to her, the perfume embodied the scent of a pair of (nice) trolls in a Swedish horror story. If you can’t see the connection, go read her review!
After reading her thoughts on beauty of course.
1) What do you mean when you call something beautiful? Do you have different definitions when you talk of different things like faces, art, landscape? Or is everything you find beautiful characterized by something similar?
Beautiful is anything that creates a positive inner movement. Different things that I find beautiful might make me feel differently, sometimes I feel warm inside, sometimes fluttery with excitement, sometimes clam, but as long as the feeling is positive, it’s beauty.
I have two patterns when it comes to beauty; clarity and love. When an idea is expressed as completely as possibly with no redundancy – that’s beautiful (and especially applicable on math and computer code). Also, the people, things and landscapes I love, I do find beautiful
2) Is there something that you find beautiful that is an exception to the above definition or which lacks the above characteristic/s?
Nothing that I can think of.
3) Do you make a distinction between aesthetically pleasing (or appealing to the senses) and beautiful? Can you call something one without it being the other? Is something that is aesthetically pleasing to you also defined by the characteristics described above?
“Aesthetically pleasing” is something I feel in my head, my brain realizes that “Oh, this has been put together with great care, how very well done”. “Beautiful” I feel in my heart or stomach area, it bypasses the brain and goes straight to my heart or guts.
4) Do you have physical reactions to beauty? (e.g. eyes opening wide, tears etc)
Yes, I smile (most usual), I might also get tear-eyed or forget to breathe for a little while.
5) Could you list examples of ‘things’ you find beautiful under the following categories
This Kay Nielsen image: (that I found after reading Suzannes blog post mentioning Kay Nielsen lately)
b) Perfume c) Smell
I often find perfumes and smells beautiful. Most recently it was Serge Lutens “Bois et Fruits”. I love how it emits the feeling of fondling a perfectly ripe plum, succulent, mouth watering, catching the equilibrium between sweet flesh and tart skin. (And I can give many many more examples about beauty in perfume 🙂 )
Perfumes can be beautiful in themselves (like Bois et Fruits) but they also have the extra feature that they can trigger memories, make me find forgotten stashes of love within myself, which adds an extra dimension of beauty. I rarely experience this with other mediums. Of course, this is a double edged sword, they can also bring up bad memories which will make me like them less.
d) Male Face e) Female Face
What faces I find the most beautiful: a very easy question to answer, my two children. There are many beautiful persons in the world, but I find it very unlikely that I’ll ever come across a person I’ll be more happily content watching hours after hours than my kids 🙂
f) Music from your own country g) Music from a foreign country
I think with music, I might be suffering from some kind of burn out syndrome. I practiced violin throughout my childhood.** When I was practicing the violin there was always very much tension and competitiveness. My connection to the beauty of the music itself got lost and I haven’t reconnected. Maybe I’ll do one day when I’ve worked my way through enough issues or maybe I never was very musically gifted in the first place 😉
The vastness of the Icelandic landscape. As there are hardly no trees and the air is extremely pure, you can see how the volcanic mountain ridges stretch for miles and miles into the distance.
Pieces of software that very clearly and efficiently solve a certain task, with no unnecessary overhead. (I’m a programmer and this was actually the first thing I thought of)
How mathematic formulas can exactly describe a situation.
When my children express affection for one another (and, really, when anyone shows affection and love toward something/someone)
6)* Is there a piece of art (or ‘thing’ or face) that you find particularly beautiful even though you are in the clear minority in that opinion? If so, could you discuss it and explain why it appeals to you?
That would be the computer code and math mentioned above. In my opinion, math doesn’t turn interesting enough to be labeled beautiful until at University level. Most people don’t stick with it that far. If more did, I’m sure there would be more people seeing it’s beauty 🙂
7) Is there something that is renowned to be beautiful that either doesn’t appeal to you or that you don’t find beautiful? Could you explain why?
I like to listen to and enjoy music but I very seldom find it to be beautiful. When I was younger I was forced to play the violin for many years and I ended up being rather good but I never loved playing and I never did it for my own enjoyment. Now when I listen to music, I can admire it from a technical point of view and sometimes it feels nice to have some background noise, but I can not compare the feelings I have for music with, say, the feelings I have for other people, perfume or visual arts.
I received Laurie’s and Sigrun’s responses in quick succession and thought it quite the coincidence that both of them mentioned the beauty in Math. I also found the relationship Sigrun has with music particularly interesting, and wonder whether that applies to a specific kind of music or to all music in general.
** Sigrun wants to makes sure no one thinks playing the violin is a harmful hobby to take up..:)
* Question 6 was suggested by Suzanne
Picture Credits Pictures of Sigrun Olafsdottir via Sigrun Picture of Kay Neilson image via Tumbler Picture of Muchas print via App State Pictures of Sigrun's kids via Sigrun Picture of Icelandic landscape via pictures-iceland