Is beauty important? To begin, I believe it is of high importance to define beauty.
Beauty is not lotions, lipstick, or other beauty products. Beauty is not skinny cheeks and a slim waist, nor a muscular torso and clever smile. That is a more self-centred and narcissistic form beauty and “the beautiful” have taken in modern western culture. Here, we will be speaking of beauty which makes your mind start to wonder. Beauty which is itself a source of inspiration. Aesthetics such as nebulas, architecture, waterfalls, dance. Both alive and dead, but never dull.
Of course, beauty can be a person. However, that is not what beauty aims to be, as we have made it seem. We have a bias, usually rather strong, when it comes to what “the beautiful”, or even “the most beautiful” ought to be. Here, no such ranking or bias will be applied. This is not a ranking of aesthetic things; it is an examination of beauty itself, its qualities, and its meaning.
Beauty is difficulty made simple. It is relaxation under tension. Beauty has an impact on the mind. It can both relax and invigorate the mind with anything from the numinous and the elementary. These are all just examples: What can we say about aesthetics? Is beauty important?
Some may consider the beautiful to be only extra unnecessary work. A sort of mask, a layer, meant to make something seem more pleasing to the eye than it really is. One could save time and effort if one just convinced people that beauty is not important. This way of thinking is about as shallow as it claims beauty to be. Beauty is not a mask. It is not a body kit on a car, but the way the car is seamlessly built like it evolved by itself, being rigid and durable, and yet comfortable and quiet.
When a formal, well constructed logical argument is presented which takes premises that could be considered common and indisputable knowledge and concludes something utterly fascinating, such that denying it would be mindless, the argument is not just beautiful; it is stunning. This is how far beauty stretches. It is a sense of discovery of the truth. It seamlessly harmonizes with reality. Or at the very least, appears to do so.
Aesthetics and beauty are important because of this. It gives us a sense of what more easily corresponds with nature, with reality. And that which fits without struggle, is either easy or beautiful.
Text: Pål Øymoen
Illustration: Silje Førtoft