Tuesday, March 3, 2009




Bruce Gee said...

I'm going to amend this a bit, by adding "...that you have yourself seen...".

Eye candy, is what it is. Standing rapt in subdued awe before Michelangelo's DAVID, or The School Of Athens.

This question is impossible to answer, IMO. Beauty is universal and perhaps even absolute, and in creating beauty we only mirror something Platonic, something Ideal. Or, something of heaven.

But seriously: I have no idea. The David comes to mind, and so much more. What have you got?

Bruce Gee said...

There is also the possibility that those things that we create that are beautiful are as beautiful as beauty gets, each in its own right. But I could be wrong about that.

Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake said...

As a possible counterpoint, I present three objectively very different buildings that I would list as my personal top three man-made objects in the world.

The K├Âlner Dom (Cologne Cathedral)

The Mosque of Ibn Tulun, in Cairo, Egypt.

The Taj Mahal, Agra, India. If I had to pick a single favorite, this would be it. Considering the brilliant sycretism of architectural styles, the absolutely incredible craftsmanship of the stone inlay, and the amazingly close shaves of its very survival, the Taj tops the list in my opinion.

Bruce Gee said...

Very impressive Evan! You've seen all three of these? Interesting that you pick architecture in each case.

Anonymous said...

My Aunt Ellen's caramel macademia nut cheesecake.

The Pieta' is second.

Bruce Gee said...

Steve, which Pieta, and have you set your very own eyes on it? I saw the St. Peter's Pieta two weeks before a madman hacked at it with a hammer, back in 1972. I do believe that Michelangelo sculpted four pietas. One at least is in Firenze, one in the Vatican, and one in Milano. There may be a fourth. I've seen them all, and indeed, they are most impressive and beautiful.

Ethan said...

I don't feel I've traveled enough to answer this question property. I think the most beautiful one I've witnessed would be a used bookstore, the kind with shelves stretching floor to ceiling that are crammed with books.

Bruce Gee said...

Answering any question "property", is always tough, heheheheh.

Remember the "...that you yourself have seen...". That brings it closer to home. Besides, the Midwest is God's country, so there ought to be something that is The Most Beautiful Manmade Thing somewhere around here. I would also add: it is possible that anything that is beautiful is in itself Most Beautiful.

"Whatever is...beautiful...dwell on these things..."

C U Thurs!! You do not have the option, this time, to be "too tired" or "not packed". Get thee thither to Grace.

A good used bookstore is very pretty, I'll give you that.

Anonymous said...

I am still meditating on this question. I was thinking about it over the weekend. I connect everything I see with what I feel, so I am trying to think of the most beautiful thing I have both seen and felt at the same time. This question is quite challenging. It has caused me to begin peeling through the layers of time and memory that have become crusted together with forgetfulness and adulthood nuisances. I am enjoying it so far.

Bruce Gee said...

Indecisive: the short answer is there is no final answer. Maybe beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I'd like to restate my initial thesis: I'm not sure you can say that there are degrees of beauty. I think beauty is absolute, and to the extent that a thing is beautiful, it is absolutely beautiful.

Man, there are more holes in that theory than in some of my socks.

But, how very Platonic of me, eh?

Keep digging. I want to hear what you come up with. Plus, the fact I'm peeling layers of your psychic onion is thrilling.

Elephantschild said...

"that I've seen myself" narrows it down.

Taliesin. Hands down, Taliesin.

(I've not had the breadth of travel opportunities that my dear brother has, or I'd likely list some European cathedral.)

Ethan said...

haha. I will be there Thursday, come Hell or high water or liberals in white coats with happy juice.

I don't know if 'beautiful' is the proper word, but House on the Rock keeps coming to mind. 'Weird as can be' might be a better way to describe it, but in some of that stuff there is buried a mysterious, possibly somewhat creepy, beauty.

Ooh. Though, the carousel there, definitely a thing of beauty. Actually, since we're limiting it to personal experience, I'm going to make that my answer.

Also, I AM quite proud of you for your Platonic ponderings, holes or not.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I certainly have done some psychic onion peeling. Funny how similar an onion is to memory; the deeper we go, the more intense and raw things can become. The longer we are exposed to the onion, the more our eyes usually water, as can happen with memory.

In my case, there is a tie breaker. My items will not be your typical selections, but to me they are quite astounding.

The first case involves a television set and videotape owned by my dear friend's father. I lost this dear friend to a drunk driver at the age of 15, and because she was cremated and her parents split the ashes (they were divorced), I had nowhere to go when I felt the need to "be near" her, if you will. Being 15 years old, I still wanted to be with her even though she was gone.

One day during a visit to her father's home, he played a home video of her that I didn't know he had. There she was, on the TV screen, her face animated and alive just as I'd remembered her. Her voice, the same as that I'd held onto since the last time we'd talked, coming out of the speakers as clear as the bright blue sky outside.

I reached out and touched the glass - trying to touch her face that was before me - feeling an ethereal joy that the TV and video together had brought her back to life for me, even if it was just for a little while.

The second case was experienced one day at Concordia University. I showed up at the free concert being given by my piano teacher. Before he started to play, I saw the piano sitting in the front of the chapel. Light was pouring in through the stained glass windows, as if it were preparing a spotlight for him or warming his piano bench. I played piano for many years as a child, so I already felt a unique connection whenever I saw one.

He finally came out and sat down, and began to play. For the next 8 to 10 minutes, I sat frozen, mouth open, ears and brain working ferociously hard at processing the incredible sounds that came from that piano as he played his first piece non-stop (for memory as well). I had never heard such beautiful playing (live) in my life.

The TV, videotape, and piano were all man-made objects, but they were only given the Most Beautiful award in my book after being used as mediums for something much more profound. A type of beauty that can't be captured in a photo or even re-created as it quietly resides in the "psychic onion," firing off sub-conscious hints to the mental process but remaining pure as it rarely presents itself in any rampant, fleeting, quickly metabolized daily thoughts...

Perhaps I over-peeled my onion while responding to your post, but I thank you for letting me share this with you and your readers, and thank you for asking such a question that required a different kind of thinking.

Bruce Gee said...

Indecisivegirl, you win the Best Answer award. Have you ever run across a poem by May Sarton entitled ON BEING GIVEN TIME?
Maybe I'll post it; one of my favorite poems. A line:

"Even a year's not long, but moments are.
This moment, yours and mine, and always given..."

You seem to have described two of those. Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

I have not run across that poem, but I am interested in reading it sometime. I might be able to find it online. Thanks for the suggestion!

Bruce Gee said...

Indecisivegirl, you can find it here: http://pagantolutheran.blogspot.com/2009/03/favorite-poem.html