Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Beauty, they say, exists in the eye of the beholder. (So, of course, does pornography, but that’s another story.) I’ve always put beauty into three loose categories: far-off (mountains, the ocean, clouds), the near-by (people, paintings, sculpture), and close up...those things which must be seen up close to be fully appreciated: (individual stones and pebbles, especially those still wet from being picked up from the shore, babies of most species). And sight is not the only sense by which we absorb beauty into ourselves. Music is the purview of the ears. (It’s rather odd, now that I think of it, that smell and taste are seldom referred to as “beautiful”—though one could argue that the smell and taste of fresh-baked bread would certainly qualify.

Words are not intrinsically beautiful as they lie there on the page, but when filtered through the eyes into the brain, the images they create are among the most beautiful things in the world.

When it comes to human beauty, I concentrate totally on the male of the species. “Women and sexuality” is interpreted in my brain as “xmprbht and i’xvy”. For whatever reason, I am simply unable to relate the two. When Kinsey devised his famous 1-to-100 range of human sexuality, with 1 being totally, exclusively homosexual and 100 being totally, exclusively heterosexual, he noted that almost no one was either a 1 or a 100. Well, I am a 1. I love women as human beings, but not as sex objects. I leave the full appreciation of female beauty to lesbians and heterosexual men. I am fixated by male beauty, and have been since I was old enough to know that men and women were different. I am being quite serious when I say, as I often do, that someone is so beautiful (to me) that my chest aches. I mean it literally.

In my periods of self-analysis, I long ago realized (and, again, have often said) that a basic element of my homosexuality is that I have always been attracted to men whose physical qualities I longed to possess myself, but felt I never did. And I found, in the days before I aged out of the market, as it were, that “cruising” had for me the special thrill of the fact that the person I went home with had somehow found me attractive enough to go home with. A strange but powerful form of validation.

But I’ve gotten somewhat off the subject…which will strike those who know me as a great surprise. Beauty and fascination are nearly synonymous—the difference being that something can be fascinating without being beautiful, I can think of nothing beautiful that is also not fascinating. Who can look at a cloud…really look at it; concentrate on it…without finding it both beautiful and fascinating? Is there anything more beautiful or fascinating than the fingers and toes and skin of a baby? Or the wide-eyed innocence of a kitten whose eyes have just opened? Have you ever really looked closely at a dandelion, or at the swirls of your own fingerprints, or at dew on a spider web.

The very idea that I can even begin to address the subject in the course of one brief blog is ludicrous, but consider this just a small arrow aiming in the direction of the subject. Beauty is everywhere. That we so seldom take time to really notice or pay attention to it robs us infinite pleasure.

Look around.

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