If you read Natalie’s writing about perfume, you will quickly recognize that her blog is not just ‘another’ perfume blog. Her writing is incisive and honest and provides interesting ‘angles’ on perfume : an approach that I identify with and which keeps me coming back for more.
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?
Oh boy! You are not going to ask the fluffy, easy questions, are you? 😉
Off the cuff, I would say that my definition of beauty is broad and flexible, and so the variety in how I use the word relates more to the characteristics “beauty” encompasses than to the object I might be describing. One commonality: when I use the word beautiful, it is usually in an effusive moment of deep appreciation, whether I’m seeing something beautiful for the first time or the millionth.
When I use the word to describe a person, I’m usually using it as shorthand for the intrinsic beauty of that person, describing a quality or qualities that are unique to them. I’m not apt to comment on a person’s appearance as often.
I tend to use “beautiful” to describe art that conveys truthful and serious emotion. I don’t have less appreciation for humorous or satirical pieces, but I am less likely to call them beautiful. In landscapes, I’m pretty equal opportunity. I love urban landscapes and the countryside, so I’ve definitely been known to enjoy the beauty of a trashed-out alleyway or an abandoned building. As for people, I still maintain that every person is beautiful on the outside in some way. Watch someone doing the thing they love to do best, and their beauty is immediately evident.
2) Is there something that you find beautiful that is an exception to the above definition or which lacks the above characteristic/s?
I don’t think so.
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?
Yes and no. I might feel or realize that something is aesthetically pleasing to others, or by an objective measure, without myself feeling that it is beautiful. The easy example is a person who is objectively attractive, but has some other characteristic that negates his or her attractiveness for me. I feel the same about some people’s art, for example the work of Hemingway, Tarantino, Hockney. I can recognize the value and quality of their work, but I have an instinctive reaction against it their aesthetics (as well as some intellectual arguments against their work, but that’s neither here nor there)
4) Do you have physical reactions to beauty? (e.g. eyes opening wide, tears etc)
No, I save my tears for nostalgic crap.
5) Could you list examples of ‘things’ you find beautiful under the following categories
“Love” by Stephan Sinding
Vol de Nuit by Guerlain
d) Male Face
Oh, ugh. Famous men usually seem like douches. Exceptions: Kevin Spacey, Alan Rickman, Jon Stewart, and Hugh Jackman seem like awesome people.
For looks alone, Adrien Brody.
e) Female Face
Sophia Coppola is smart, individual, and beautiful.
f) Music from your own country
g) Music from a foreign country
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?
There are things that I admire that I know are not commonly admired, but in the age of the internet, I think it’s always possible to find someone who shares the opinion.
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?
The Eiffel Tower doesn’t speak to me, which has always made me sad. I think because its beauty lies as much in its scale and the landscape where it is placed as it does in the structure itself, and it is difficult to find exactly the right position and atmosphere to take it in (especially because of one’s fellow tourists). I will keep trying, however. Someday I hope to be in Paris and just, blammo, be struck by its beauty.
Natalie makes a very interesting point that humorous and satirical pieces are less likely to be called beautiful by her, even though she doesn’t appreciate them less. I find that observation to be true for me as well. And I wonder why.
* Question 6 was suggested by Suzanne
Picture Credits Pictures of Natalie via Natalie Picture of Love by Stephan Sinding image via Pbase Pictures of Jon Stewart via ivillage Picture of Venice via 123rf