Eye of the Beholder

Today’s half-baked thought: I was walking through the neighborhood and observing the mint-clean grass, wondering, would you call this color chartreuse or pale green? And while chartreuse sounds lovelier on the tongue, pale green seems raw and simple, and I couldn’t decide whether I was being fussy or if this was an honest attempt at deciphering beauty.

There is this tumblr post of a scene from Elementary where Sherlock contemplates whether love exists or if it’s merely a human construct. Along with that, this morning there was a re-run of a talk on NPR concerning the nature of beauty, i.e. the science behind how we perceive beauty and how we respond to it. It’s interesting to think that beauty is essential toward survival: think of a classic, idyllic landscape with a gurgling river, a meadow, a forest, some white capped mountains in the background, some lilting flowers in the foreground. We look at the river and the grass and the forest and we think: water, food, shelter, the basic necessities of survival. It turns out, we may be hard-wired to seek beautiful things.

How, then, do you explain love and beauty among billions of humans?

Okay, so there’s the phrase, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” And that’s pretty self-explanatory‚ÄĒpeople acquire different tastes and opinions to form their own image of what’s beautiful. A Monet painting, a lush countryside, a pair of smooth hands, a slick design. Sometimes  we’re influenced by society (fashion models, movie stars, etc.) and sometimes we’re influenced by the need for idiosyncrasy. But when it comes to human relationships, is it possible to separate love from beauty? In other words, is love something that stands on its own, as opposed to something that relies on beauty? I’m trying to decrypt this from a cerebral point of view, because, in the end, they likely intersect and blend together: love can be the realization of something beautiful (a person, an idea, a physical object), and something beautiful can lead to love.

I mean, there are still millions of questions relating to these topics, and there’ll be no settling ground (an infinitely restless subject, I presume), but I suppose it’s worth keeping close at heart: why is beauty needed? More honestly, why is love needed?


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