Monday, December 12, 2011

Tim Tebow


Man wins two national championships in college and the Heisman trophy, at Florida State, and the thing he's most well known for is his morality and Christian celibacy.

Denounced for his size and limited play style, he sits a season on the last place Denver Bronco bench behind Kyle Orton , an action that prompted his die-hard fans to buy billboard space all over Colorado advocating for his start.

Upon finally getting the starting nod halfway through the season, he racks up enough wins to put Denver in first place in the division through what have become trademark 4th quarter comebacks.

He's this polemic force of nature, lining his own stat column with figures that would make Kyle Boller embarrassed but filling the win-loss column with numbers that'd fill any Bronco fan with glee.

The man is beautiful: everything about him, from his lifestyle choices to his successful challenge of what it means to be a professional athlete in the most physically taxing sport there is, defies every cynical thing that I've come to know in sports.

The man makes you believe that not only can you be better, but that everyone else can better better. No, it's more than that. You have to be better if you're going to keep up with him, in everything you do.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Bad Clown by Michael Earl Craig

The Bad Clown

I was at the acupuncturist's.
It was my first time.
She put the needles in as I told jokes
to the ceiling. She put more needles in.
I tensed up and let out a demented clown laugh.
It made her stop for a second.
There was a gentle gong-and-bell track
piped in via hidden speakers.
"The speakers are in the jade plant," she said.
I tensed up again. I was golden brown.
I felt like one of those bad clowns.
The kind that hide in the sewers.
The acupuncturist was trying to help me.

Craig uses simple language to describe a single moment that seems to speak of something more poignant. What I really find beautiful is Craig's ability to use a seemingly vague phrase such as "bad clowns" to create an image and feeling that connects with readers. The description of "the kind that hide in the sewers" is enough to create a picture of the "demented clown laugh" and the awkward moment created in the situation. Craig's ability to say so much in such few words adds to the beauty of the poem. 

The World's Best Pizza Hut

Fortunately, my roommate and I were lucky enough to decide to blow all of our money while we were abroad last year on a trip to Egypt.

This picture was taken from the roof of a Pizza Hut that is literally right across the street from the pyramids at Giza.

I'm not sure if its beautiful or just heart-breaking in the worst sort of post-colonial way, but what I do know is that one of my favorite meals that I've ever had, ever, was at this restaurant with my roommate and a Chinese national named Hayden that we met at our hostel.

Gauguin



This is called something like "Two Breton Women in the Road." I think the plain surety of the texture and repetition of color in swatches is beautiful, especially when those colors are so vibrant and the most delicate, visually drawing part of the painting is not the hills or trees or women's bodies or clothes, but the careful attention on the one peasant's face as she listens to the other. This painting compels me and confuses me by its ability to do so.

Dangerous Laughter



Millhauser's "Dangerous Laughter" is one of the most beautiful collections of short stories that I have encountered. He artfully takes metaphors to the levels of fantastic stories, but at the same time grounds the fantasy in a language that argues for their reality. The reader is simultaneously amused by the impossibility of it all and fighting the strong desire to check if some of the events described have actually occurred. This collection walks a fine line between reality and fantasy and in exploiting the division creates some incredibly rich metaphors.

Babette's Feast

"Babette's Feast" is a Danish film from the late 80's that is about the confluence of Christianity, tolerance, and art. The first section of the film examines life in a rather hard-line Protestant community in northern Jutland. Two spinster sisters have a French emigre (who left France for political reasons) as their servant. There is a very palpable feeling of distance not only between the Catholic Frenchwoman (Babette) and the Protestant community, but between the members of the community themselves. They've taken the most divisive interpretations of their pastor's teachings to heart.

In the course of time, Babette wins the French National Lottery (her nephews(?) enter her every year), and she elects to spend all the money on one luxurious, perfect meal that slowly, inexorably breaks down the divisions between the people in the community, their understanding of the demands that their religion places on them change entirely in the face of the incredible beauty of this feast and the act of generosity on the part of Babette. This has got to be one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen, not so much because of its cinematography or mise-en-scene, but because of the feeling of absolute warmth it projects.

This is the feast scene itself, broken into two parts. Important background information: the members of the community, used to self-denial, have sworn not to enjoy the decadent and, in their minds, decidedly Catholic meal.



Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Attraction

No matter how hard I have tried to stay away from issues of vanity on our blog, I couldn't help myself but make my last post to be on a more controversial subject matter in terms of the topic of beauty. So without further ado, I think Ryan Gosling is beautiful.
In all seriousness, I do believe that there is some form of pleasure that we derive from something beautiful upon encountering it. I personally don't believe that pleasure is a completely separate reaction that diverges from experiencing true beauty, the way some of our philosophers have stated. Setting aside sensual attraction for a moment, our attraction to certain objects like paintings or concepts like math equations creates some type of response, whether to act fair and just as Scarry would have us believe, or to try to recreate it or share it with others.
Although some may say that sensual attraction has no validity in the argument of things that are beautiful, I do not find our tendency to find certain people "beautiful" as being a misuse of the word. I find a tremendous amount of beauty in the concept of attraction and what it takes for an individual to bond with another in a very personal way. Stemming from these ideas, I would like to argue that although humans derive pleasure from sex, I am certain that many individuals would find the act and the experience to be beautiful nonetheless.