Monday, October 31, 2011

A Pair of Boots

I realized that I'm something like the bastion of conservatism on this blog. Everything I post is art-as-such. So this week, I decided to break the mold with a picture of my boots (if you've read Heidegger, I bet you know what I'm up to...). I've worn them everywhere for the last 3 years or so - they've been to three continents, on dozens of trails, soaked, scuffed, and filthy. They were handmade in America according to Red Wing blueprints from 1905. I think they're beautiful, but I can't shake the sense that this type of beauty is different from the beauty I'm usually talking about.


This photograph was taken by local artist Andre Perez. The person closest to the camera is my friend Desiree. When I first saw this shot, I was struck by the fact that I knew the most prominent person in the photo. Andre had submitted the photo to me for the magazine I run at Loyola, and Desiree's smile and energy just popped out at me from the screen. It was a beautiful moment of shock: seeing my friend so happy to be a part of a queer community and feeling like her smile was meant for me, even though she probably still doesn't know that I have this picture. And maybe I love that someone else can see the beauty that I see in someone else, beauty that isn't always recognized. But I think this post is really about the beauty of friendship, community, and coincidence. I don't know. I just know that every time I think about it, I feel moved.


This image of Ruth Madoff was in a New York Times article about her. The photo really caught my attention, because it captures a side of the story one never thinks about. It touches on something very human, and speaks of a truth we don't really want to face-- that in the end, we may have to answer to our past choices. Even scarier is the thought that we may be seen and remembered only for a failure while the rest of us as a whole is forgotten. Whether one wants to demonize her or pity her, the photograph itself is powerful.

Time Lapse in Pride and Prejudice
I find Joe Wright's cinematography in Pride and Prejudice so visually stunning that his works look like a series of fluid moving paintings. Wright perfectly captures the progression of time during the scene where Elizabeth Bennet is staring into her mirror (beginning at 00:50). While artificial lighting is used to create the scene, it is done so professionally and beautifully that it seems as though Elizabeth is frozen still from sunrise to sundown. Upon Mr. Darcy's arrival, the lack of focus on his body creates the illusion that he may be an imaginative ghost in Elizabeth's mind, even though he actually leaves a letter with her. Elizabeth's refusal to turn around in the ethereal Mr. Darcy's presence emphasizes both her somber state of mind and the power of this scene in general.

Moving pictures

This is a photo/animation from the collection by Jamie Beck. She specializes in creating animated photos- in most of her pictures only one or two elements are moving, while the rest remain a still photograph. What I find beautiful about the idea in general, as well as this picture in particular, is how it plays with the idea of motion and time. The fact that there is movement in the photo makes it come alive, but the fact that it is repeated movement kind of restricts its life to a moment (as any regular photo would). (

"Ciao" License Plate

This post is about the moment captured in my memory that cannot be captured with this picture. This summer I was blessed with the opportunity to go to Rome for a week. I was traveling with a group of strangers, essentially, and I knew I would not really have the ability to call/email my friends and family. Although I was excited, I was also nervous because it would be my first time abroad in a place where I was unfamiliar with the official language. This picture was taken literally the evening before my flight from O'Hare to Roma. I took it as a beautiful and reassuring "you'll be fine!" from the universe.

As You Like It

"Run, run Orlando; carve on every tree
The fair, the chaste, and unexpressive she."

This is a line from As You Like It (III.ii), quite possibly my favorite play by Shakespeare. Briefly, these lines are referring to the scene where Orlando writes love poems to Rosalind on tree branches in the Forest of Arden. The sonnets, however, are not well-received but actually criticized for being unskilled. Without going into specific details, I guess what I'm most attentive to in this incident is (to use a grossly worn-out term) the irony— the passionate sentiments at the source of Orlando’s actions are actually, through this particular manifestation, revolting against and negating his hopes of gaining what he desires through them. To say the least, Orlando is forced to correct for his initial artifice and extract his “true love” out from a genuine trust in florid expressions and exhalations of Rosalind. She nonetheless enjoys the verses and is ecstatic to be around Orlando, maybe confirming the thought that, according to Wilde, “Even bad poetry is sincere.”


This is another one of my roommate's pictures from her trip to Africa, and I love it because it seems to capture so much. The lines, light, and textures work together in a way that makes me really appreciate the beauty of nature. The photo does not make me necessarily want to be in this place, but rather I am in awe of the vastness demonstrated here.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

President Lincoln Art

This is a Norman Rockwell painting that is on display at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio, my hometown. It is called "Lincoln the Rail-splitter." I think the concept of putting one of America's most famous and likable presidents in a lower position of power makes this painting a great reflective piece for its audience. Do we still place importance on a great thinker such as Lincoln when he is not in such a high position of power? Do we in America place too much importance of the value of a person on his or her profession?

Thursday, October 27, 2011


This is the view from the back of the campus chapel, Madonna della Strada. Every time I walk out of these doors, I am amazed at how strikingly beautiful this scene is, mostly because it is all natural: the lake, the clouds, the sun. The church itself is very beautiful because it is detailed with golden stations of the cross, huge archways, and a marble altar. This exact location (in the doorway)is the transition from man-made beauty to natural beauty, which contrast each other, but also compliment each other.


These are woodcut prints by a Ukrainian artist. I find them striking and blunt, yet delicate. There's a kind of respect for the object, while making it into something else, what the artist sees, what he wants us to see. Putting these up all over your room or apartment or house totally alter the frame of mind the space allows you to be in.

Somewhere like that...

When it gets cold and gloomy, I really want to go somewhere like this- just for a week or so :) Now, I know perfectly well that this is a commercialized environment, and that the photographer has an agenda for taking this picture. I also know that the country this is taken in, is probably living exclusively off the tourist business; and that the majority of the country is not as well off as the hotel district. However, when it gets this gloomy out in Chicago, all the politics seem so irrelevant, considering that somewhere it is this beautiful.

Loan Town

This is an editorial by John Hendrix. I think it concretely demonstrates the frustration many people are feeling these days. By creating a "Loan Town," Hendrix shows an individual moving from one such town into the next.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Minnesota Bluffs

On my most recent trip to Minnesota, it was a very rainy day. We stopped by the Mississippi rest stop to stretch our legs and enjoy the view. The view of the river isn't really as impressive in that area, so I wandered around and came upon this view of the tree-covered bluffs. They always impress me (probably because I've spent most of my life in plain, flat Illinois), but that day they stunned me in a different way. I don't want to describe it in words because every time I try it comes out sounding so much less majestic than it actually looked. I've attached a picture, but it's not the best one and can't quite capture the full effect. It's just a glimpse into that ineffable moment of beauty.

Baby Birds

This photo was taken in the spring before I came to Loyola. This nest was built on top of one of the lamps attached to my garage. Even though it looks really close, we maintained a safe distance between us and the baby birds. In fact, all we had seen were their beaks because it wasn't until I took this picture did we see what they actually looked like. I must say, they probably don't have enough feathers to win any contests for being the most adorable but they were definitely a sign of new beginnings and limitless potential, which I find to be beautiful. I guess the mother bird liked the spot because she has come back to lay her eggs every year since then.

Portal Puddles

I know this isn't the best picture, but it serves well to give the general idea. I'm not commenting on the beauty of the picture itself, but on the thing in the picture. Not too long ago I visited a forest preserve after a rainfall, and I noticed all these very small, odd puddles scattered around the picnic area. I remembered them vaguely from childhood, so I went for a closer look. It seems like all of the exposed roots of the trees collected water until it formed a very reflective puddle. In such a small space, you could see the sky, the canopy, and sometimes even yourself reflected. When I was little, I used to imagine that these puddles were actually portals (probably after reading a few very imaginative books), and then if you could jump through them, the canopy reflected in the puddle would be directly above your head. Needless to say, this inspired many hours of rambles in my imagination and tons of enjoyment, which is a big part of the reason why I find the temporary portal puddles so beautiful.

Six Word Poems

I feel that Six Word Poems, a self-explanatory type of flash fiction, are quite simple in their objective and conceptual understanding, but they demand more from the poet to create an inspiring work of art because there are only a few words to move the reader. Hegel stresses the importance of the experience we get from reading a work of poetry, and I find that these poems are no exception. Each are remarkable because they have multiple interpretations especially because the voice of the speaker is unknown. If you take each poem from the male and female perspective, it is quite interesting. I find beauty in how versatile these poems are and how much they say with so little language.

For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn. —Ernest Hemingway

Longed for him. Got him. Shit. —Margaret Atwood

All those pages in the fire. —Janet Burroway

First sex. I came. She didn’t. —Sherman Alexie

A Bridge to Many Lands

Many of the philosophers we've read have talked about how art is art when it represents one thing. I can't even define it correctly, because I feel just the opposite about art. In fact, in middle school, I wrote a paper on how the best art is that which inspires the most ideas and the most future art. I wouldn't necessarily agree with that anymore, but I often find the play of ideas to be the part of art that intrigues me the most. In this photograph, I see childhood (A Bridge to Terabithia), a hiding place, a natural oasis, sadness, mystery, and so much more. I don't like to limit what I can see in a work of art. I'd rather let my mind float along.

Danse Russe

If I when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,--
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
"I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!"
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
against the yellow drawn shades,--

Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?

--William Carlos Williams


This is my favorite poem. Why it's beautiful is best stated like this:

If you think that it isn't beautiful, then try to explain why it's not.

Not Being Homeless

I forgot to post for Monday, so I'll post two things in a row. This is a picture taken from the front step of my apartment building. Beautiful. But not just because of the tree and the bushes and the other natural elements of this picture. It's because this photograph was taken in front of my home. I have a home. I've not always had one. Sometimes I had to stay in terrible places, with terrible people. When I see people who are homeless, I feel guilty. Not just guilty because I can't give them much but because I know how awful it is not to have a home or food or people who care. To have no future. This springtime, I took a picture outside my home, and it was beautiful.

This Is Water

What is it about David Foster Wallace? He's so capable of cutting through all the bullshit we get worked up over and of taking seriously the inane, cliche, and totally obvious things that actually matter to us on a daily basis. He gave a commencement address at Kenyon College in 2005 called This Is Water, which you can read here. I think much of what he's talking about is really valuable to bear in mind when thinking about Beauty.

The Leopard

I find this scene from The Leopard (of which this clip is only a fractional excerpt) to be beautiful not only for gratifying my general love of period pieces, but also for the way in which it accomplishes something I have never even remotely seen in other films. I’ll accept that some might think of this as aristocratic superficiality, but I’m still enthralled by the procedures that have fashioned the final result. The entire ball scene is 45 minutes long and, for me at least, never once tiresome. Often, in some parts the camera might rest in a single location for some time and let the action simply unfold before it. You’d have to see the whole thing, but I like this effect as if there is no director or crew working on the set. It’s almost like viewers are given the chance to simply sit in the room and eavesdrop on conversations. The attention to detail is in all actuality painstaking (for instance, real candles were used in the chandeliers and had to be replaced hourly), but the outcome never seems contrived. How I see it is kind of hard to explain, but it’s as if the film both does and doesn’t care about the viewer—the ball is going to take place whether anyone really cares and is watching or not.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Arizona Sunset

Being from Arizona, specifically the Phoenix metro area, I have an extreme bias toward Arizona Sunsets. It's the reason why our native sports teams have names like "The Phoenix Suns" or, in the instances of the Diamondbacks and Coyotes, their official jersey colors are awkward shades of Arizona-specific red.

The reason why they're so spectacular (which they are, and much more so in person) is decidedly less thrilling-- the colors of the sunsets come in large part from pollution.

Phoenix is situated in a valley and, without large quantities of naturally occurring carbon sinks, such as bodies of water or leafy trees, the pollution from the 5th largest city in America stays largely in the city: even the mountains surrounding the city keep the wind from moving the pollution out.

The beauty of the sunset stands in juxtaposition to the sunrise, since the pollution cools during the night and sinks to the ground, a literal brown cloud of smog rises visibly up from the city every morning only to descend brilliantly at the day's close. Though, in reality, its the awful sunrises that make the sunsets so wonderful.

Good Will Hunting Clip

Good Will Hunting is filled with tons of beautiful scenes that are not only moving, but extremely beautiful. The clip I picked is between the orphaned Will (Matt Damon), and the psychiatrist, Sean (Robin Williams). Sean's speech brings both Will and the audience back down to Earth. Also, Sean emphasizes how one cannot know someone based off of just outer appearances, or through just reading about what that person is going through; experiences have more value than just reading and observing. One of my favorite lines was when Sean stated how Will could read all about the Sistine Chapel, but he would never know how it smelled like. It just emphasizes the difference between experiencing and reading. There was just a lot of honesty and reality in this clip. Furthermore, even though this conversation was between Sean and Matt (a concrete particular), this conversation can apply universally to all humankind.

The fact that this scene made me reflect on myself, and the acting completely moved me is enough for me to call it beautiful.

Lee Friedlander

I believe this image is from Friedlander's Sticks and Stones. It strikes me in particular because of how the high contrast (the sea of white with stark, thin black lines) and placement of view point in respect to the shadows and street replicate not only a very specific, ephemeral landscape, but an experience. For all we know, the sky could be bright blue, the fire hydrant bright red, the ground full of grass, the buildings brightly painted, and the weather that day cool or even freezing. But what the viewer is given is a very particular experience--to me, almost eerie in its totality and exclusionary exactness--allowed by what actually exists but used in a way that accomplishes the artist's goal of imaginatively unreal, and somewhat suffocating, experience.

Slam Poetry: New Word for Love

This video is of Ottawa slam master Rusty Priske orating his work "A New Word for Love," which is disarmingly smile-inducing. He has more powerful stuff, of a certainty, but this one has a certain thing to say about inadequacy of language and the power of aesthetics, kind of. You'll find the text after the video, but, because it's slam, reading it will not give you the power that seeing it will, even if the video is rubbish because poets can't seem to master filming things. If you like what you saw/read, he's got a few other videos up on the Youtube, including a work inspired by a Caravaggio painting that I really enjoy. His blog's at


    A New Word for Love

Don’t you just love a good meal?
A lovely dish served with love
Like braised artichoke hearts with
Passionfruit for dessert?
Then I love going with you to a
Movie after dinner.
I loved that film we saw last
With the two lovers who showed
That love will triumph as their
Heart leapt in everlasting love
For the full two hours.
And I loved being there with you
Because I love you.
But is that the right thing to say if I can
Use the same word for you
That I used for dinner and a movie, too?
We need a new word for love.
A word that wraps around your tongue
Like a sticky-sweet, ambrosia-drenched
Full-body hug of love.
But there is that word again.
I have no shortage of love -
I love my friends
I love my neighbours
But is that really true?
How can one word also mean that OTHER
Kind of love?
The knee-quaking, earth-shaking,
Brain-liquidating kind of love.
And if I say one kind minimizes
The other, do I sound like the
Closed-minded who say that
One marriage can minimize
Even if they are both formed
Out of love?

But there is that word again.

I’m not talking about that fire, now
That turns into just one of
Those things that torch songs
And American Idol contestants
Trade for legitimacy.

No – I’m talking about that slow burn
That sinks into your soul
And brands you like a Texas
Cattle-man marking you for
The circle bar ranch -
But the circle is shaped more
Like a heart and the bar
Has the markings of cupid all over it.

It isn’t the love you can have
For a good cup of tea or a warm
Night in early June.
No, it is the kind of love that hooks
You in even when things are bad.
The kind of love that shows you
Not to be so quick to dismiss
The power of tears
As one could drown you quicker than
The deepest ocean.
The kind of love that can magnify the pain
That she feels so that you would
Trade anything to feel the pain yourself
Rather than see it in her.

That kind of love sounds
Pretty awful, actually.
But it isn’t.
Forget the love of a great new poem or song
Because this other kind of love
Makes the good feel better too.
It is the sunset kind of love
The spring flowers kind of love
The essence of two month old kittens
Brewed into a potion of pure joy
Kind of love.

But it is more than that, too.

It is the ‘I have trouble sleeping
When you aren’t here’ kind of love.
The ‘you are never far even when
We aren’t near’ kind of love.
It’s the ‘rolling over and seeing you
Sleeping there for nearly 20 years’
Kind of love and
‘Thinking that we are just getting
Started’ kind of love.

That’s a lot for one word to handle
But maybe that’s okay since it is a
‘Words unspoken’ kind of love
And sometimes a word is not enough
Even when that word is…

Forefathers' Eve

“The souls of Purgatory! In any side of the world: whether you are burning in tar, freezing at the bottom of a brook, or for a severer punishment you are implanted into austere wood, while being bit by embers of a stove you cry mournfully and moan. Each of you hurry to join our herd! Let the herd meet. We are having Forefathers’ Eve!"

This quote is the beginning line from the play Forefathers' Eve (Part II) by Adam Mickiewicz, the man who single-handedly created Polish identity (which was especially remarkable since he was writing during the Partitions when Poland did not have political autonomy) through his writing. Every Polish writer since then has reacted to his literary works. Although this creation of identity can be problematic, I am impressed with the way in which a literary genius is able to unite a nation of people who otherwise were not allowed to participate in their culture.

Because Forefather's Eve is next week and the play reminds me of Paradise Lost, I thought it would be highly appropriate to share the translation of that first line today.

Monday, October 24, 2011

ND Basilica

This is a picture of the University of Notre Dame's basilica.
At eye level, the basilica's architecture is very modest: long white pillars, wooden pews, and a wooden altar. However, when you look above, the ceiling of the basilica is full of intricate detailing and arches covered in rich navy and gold. Both parts are beautiful, but together, they create a sense that there is a power much greater than can be seen by the naked eye; in that power is where the most grand beautiful is found. In this way, I believe that the church is beautiful, both aesthetically, and because of its purpose as a reminder of God's power and beauty.

David and Goliath

Most people know the story of David and Goliath, but seeing an interpretation such as Caravaggio's gives a concreteness to it in its narrative. In Caravaggio's depiction, Goliath's face is shown, giving him a more human portrayal. His head seems detached from his body, which severs him from what he's mostly characterized as-- a giant warrior. We see the moment after defeat, and the reality of murder as triumph is put upon us. I thought of the painting when watching the news about Gaddafi's death. I in no way feel sorry for him, but seeing the actual pictures and videos of people excited over a murdered body causes conflicting feelings--ones I think this painting explores.

Pencil vs. photo

These photos/pictures are from a series of works by a Belgian photographer/illustrator/artist Ben Heine. His technique is combining photos with pencil drawings to create a unique and very interesting artwork. The first time I saw these it reminded me of a commercial that was on TV recently- I am not sure what product it's for but the idea of it was to place old photos in a shot of the landscape in present time. Heine's work is similar, perspective-wise, but I feel that what makes his idea beautiful is the combination of imagination and reality. The pencil drawings he creates fit into the real landscape seamlessly, but at the same time they are of a different world. In a way, they combine the imaginary and the real in one, very cool picture.


Whether others scoff at the expression or not, I do think “we eat with our eyes first,” or that presentation has at least some effect on how we experience food. At Alinea in Chicago, a restaurant often called the “best” in the country whatever that might mean, I find the way in which food is presented to be extremely beautiful. As you can see in this gallery of images on their site, the food displays are painstakingly arranged. I’m fascinated by the attempt to evoke a particular concept or flavor through an unexpected medium (e.g. “pb&j” or “apple”) and deconstruct a specific food item into variegated parts (e.g. “rhubarb”). The experience becomes defamiliarizing, which I think says something about its overall merit. But really, the entire premise verges on being ridiculously pointless. You’re probably going to look at the food for 30 seconds or a minute before you eat it. Yet I still admire what the food is endeavoring to grasp at, similar to formal artwork in terms of color, composition, and texture.

White Painting

The white paintings of Robert Ryman's late career are so straightforward. Each one is like a solved problem: Ryman never takes painting for granted, but throughout his interrogation of gesture, color, stroke, etc. (in other words, the formal technologies of the medium), he seems to aim at specular beauty. The clarity of the painted surface is unlike almost anything I know in contemporary painting.


My boyfriend was part of a wedding this weekend, and sadly I was not able to attend to be his date. Instead, I lived vicariously through the photos he took and through speaking with one of my best friends who is planning to get married in the near future. I know that not everyone will agree with me when I say this but I do believe that there is some magic-like or spiritual quality when it comes to the official union between two people who love one another. I went to my first wedding last year and I was so moved by some of the speeches to the bride and groom and the dances between the bride and father of the bride as well as the groom and mother of the groom. There is so much beauty behind the power of love and idea of making a commitment to share the best and worst parts of your life with another individual.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


I was drawn to this photograph, taken by Damion Berger, because it takes a moment for the eye to perceive what is really happening in the picture (or at least it did for me). In that moment before the mind has situated itself inside the premise of the photo, there is a feeling of disorientation. It is while the mind is flailing for perspective that I find the beauty in this picture.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dilemma Fish

This picture, called "Dilemma Fish," is one of the pieces of artwork that will be displayed at the Dr. Seuss exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry this week. I find it beautiful, not aesthetically, but because of its ability to form a sibling bond. My brother and I are almost 9 years apart in age, so we've just recently begun to understand each other as I grow into adulthood. However, this picture and others in the exhibit, reminders of our favorite childhood books, have made us reminsce about our childhoods and therefore talk about our parents, our family, and keeping family traditions alive: much deeper subject matters than I expected from a Dr. Seuss picture.

Cathedra Sancti Petri cum Lauriis

I'm on an architecture kick currently, and so I wanted to choose something that not only served to demonstrate the beautiful (if ostentatious), but also the importance of proportion. The picture if of the apse of the St. Peter's Basilica in rome. Above the altar is the chair of St. Peter, above which is a stained glass window at the center of which is what appears to be a tiny dove.
The dove's wingspan is six feet.
Likewise, the lettering of the Credo that wraps around the band at the juncture of wall and dome is seven feet tall. The only thing preventing these elements from becoming grotesque is near-perfect proportion. Architects have got to be mathematical geniuses, because instead the human eye is able to adjust to this grand scale in such a way as to make it palatable. Now, whether you like all of that intermingled gold and bronze is another question entirely, but mathematically speaking, this is tops.


Okay, this picture isn't really of diamonds, it's of graphite. But graphite and diamonds are both made out of the same stuff (carbon), but carbon just has different physical forms. This picture shows different forms of graphite and how scientists just discovered they can manipulate graphite's physical form. Graphite is usually softer than diamonds, but when put under a lot of pressure, it takes the shape of a diamond and both look pretty similar. However, when the pressure is taken away, the graphite goes back to it's original form.

Even though I don't personally think graphite is as "beautiful" as diamonds, I find the chemistry and manipulative properties behind graphite more beautiful than the form of graphite itself.

If you want to read more about this, check out this article:

The Windmill Movie

These are a couple stills from a film directed by Alexander Olch, constructed almost entirely out of shots from the unfinished autobiographical documentary Richard P. Rogers tried making but never finished before his death.
I think these images, and the film as a whole, could be appreciated through a hybrid Shaftesburian-Kantian-Hegelian lens. Design with purpose without always grasping the purpose and not caring, since the experience of the idea is relayed through the object as experience of viewing and judging, while moving beyond what the object alone can accomplish.

Here's also a link to the trailer (which I think is better watched muted)--the best shot from the entire documentary, one which exemplifies form allowing one to experience a concept, lasts from oo:54 to 00:57 and is of a sailboat boom pushing through tall grass.

Carne Griffiths

I was delighted and intrigued to discover that Carne Griffiths mostly uses calligraphy ink and liquids such as tea, vodka, and whiskey in his paintings. Carne's artwork emphasizes the notion of escapism and connectivity to the natural world that I find both calming and beautiful. I could not decide on which painting to post, so here are a handful.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Descent from the Cross

This deposition by Rogier van der Weyden is one of my favorite. I post it because I think for Hegel all art attains to something like the incarnation. Beauty is the perfect individuation of the Spirit in sensuous form, right? In a manner of speaking, that's also exactly what Christ is.

Christina's World

I've viewed the painting Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth many times. I find that the narrative I construct for the painting changes with each viewing. I think the title is part of the reason--"world" gives the impression that this painting is capturing more than just a moment in time.


Scrabble is, to me, a perfect game: the difficulty of the game increases as the individual player understands the game's limits; not necessarily the skill limit of the other player.

The first step to becoming good at scrabble is building a vocabulary-- but the longest word is not always the best word to play in a given context. As soon as a player has memorized enough 2 and 3 letter words then the game becomes purely spacial, more or less dominos with an incredibly complicated scoring structure. At a certain point a threshold is reached where a player memorizes the tile distribution, and begins to compute the basic probabilities of their opponents' tiles, and then the probabilities of future tile placements. In essence, Scrabble is a game of ever-increasing limits and the beauty of that is that the only real opponent is the game itself.

Obviously, it's incredibly difficult to find people to play with me. It's the one game where I'm genuinely more excited when I lose than I am when I win because that means that someone else is thinking about Scrabble just as hard as I am, and that there's glaring evidence that I can improve.

Blow Northern Wind

I first listened to this song in another class of mine when a student was presenting on it. We only got to hear a snippet of the song but it was so beautiful I had to go back and find it on my own. Just the way the voices harmonize is wonderful, and the fact that this song is so old (if you look at the lyrics, you'll see they're in Middle English) is part of what makes it beautiful to me. It's not quite a lullaby, but I'm not sure I'd want it to be. I like it how it is, just a peaceful love song.

Performance Photography

I stumbled upon this blog and I think its images are beautiful because they are startling and somewhat comical. They provoke curiosity and reaction.

Grace Lee Boggs

Grace Lee Boggs is a 95 year old woman, daughter of Chinese immigrants, who is arguably one of the most important American activists. She has been a part of the labor, civil rights, Black Power, women's, Asian American, environmental justice, and antiwar movements. I have just started reading her most recent work, The Next American Revolution, and these words, although copyrighted in April of this year, seem to mirror current events. Aside from that, Boggs claims that much of her personal philosophy was inspired by her reading of Hegel, so I felt this would be an appropriate time to post her words.

"This movement has no central leadership and is not bound together by any ism. Its very diverse and widely scattered individuals and groups are connected mainly by the Internet and other information technologies. But they are joined at the heart by their commitment to achieving social justice, establishing new forms of more democratic governance, and creating new ways of living at the local level that will reconnect us with the Earth and with one another. Above all, they are linked by their indomitable faith in our ability to create the world anew."

Naked Perfection

For Hegel, sculpture as an art form reached its apex in classical Greece. Greek sculptures represented an “ideal” beauty because they were the means by which the spiritual or an Idea found perfect sensuous expression in the human form. When I came across this website, I wondered how Hegel would handle its assertion. Basically, it claims that ancient Greek sculptors were so preoccupied with perfection that they manipulated certain features of the human body to such an extent that they became unrealistic. Or as the site puts it, “they are more human than human.” I’m not sure if Hegel would be concerned with the complete set of anatomical specificities, but I still think this hyperreality or authentic irreality (?) says something about the way in which Greek sculpture sought to capture beauty. It seems as if Hegel admired these works so much because they were models where genuine human forms and bodies free of defects became manifest through symbiosis. Some sculptures of impossible and unattainable human forms might potentially call this into question.

this picture haunts me

This picture haunts me. It feels so bleak and dreary, though it may not have had that intention at all. I mean the actuality of the people moving through the street: were they sad, happy, just normally going about their day? But the end result of the photograph reminds me of death, ghosts, despair, monotony, drudgery, decay. Yet I find it beautiful. Maybe it's because I like sadness and embrace the spectrum of emotion. Whatever it is, I love this.

Dad's dinner

This is a painting entitled "Here is dad's dinner" and it depicts a young serf boy who dropped a pitcher of milk (which was suppose to be his father's dinner). This work was part of the Romantics movement, in so far as it strives to capture the "spirit" of the people. What I find beautiful is the simplicity of the situation and the absence of ambiguity of emotions. It's not complicated, it's just a childish way. To me, the painting captures perfectly its main character and his genuine grief over spilled milk; the painter is so in tune with the subject of his work that it almost seems like he is the boy in the painting.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesdays With Morrie

This weekend I finally read Tuesday's With Morrie, a wonderful book about appreciating life and not fearing death. As i was reading, i stumbled upon this quote:

"As you grow old, you learn more. If you stayed at twenty-two, you'd always be as ignorant as you were at twenty-two. Aging is not just decay, you know. It's growth"

I read this and I immediately thought how different this perspective was from various philosophers who believed that beauty was found mostly in the youth, not in the old and the decrepit. I agree with Morrie when he states that old age is something to embrace. Aging is actually a very beautiful process, and it's important to note that being young also has it's downfall. Overall, I thought this book was extremely insightful/powerful and should be considered beautiful.

Architecture+Lots o' Books.

As I flipped through Hegel, I became aware that he sees architecture as a somewhat inadequate form of art. That's cool, he's entitled to think that way, and it certainly fits into the overall philosophical framework he's constructed, but I find the conclusion unsatisfying. Not least because of the above.
That's the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and it is awesome on several levels. Not only is it a fine-looking building (especially in this light), but it is a repository of knowledge with few peers. I understand that Hegel is not likely to consider architectural forms to be bound with the purpose of the building (of course, neither does Kant), but in this case, not only does the form suit the purpose (check out pictures of the interior: they're svelte), the purpose is an ideal beauty all its own.


A full moon is always a beautiful sight to see in the night sky, but I feel that when it is seen at an unusual time, or in an unusual manner that it is especially beautiful. Here, photographers have taken advantage of the moon being so big and bright at what appears to be dusk, and used it to create very interesting photographs with the help of a few props. The fun perspectives here are helped along by the fact that most people do not see the moon so visible at dusk (or dawn) on an everyday basis, so it adds to the fun and the beauty of the picture when one realizes the unusual circumstances that must take place in order to make such pictures possible.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Chocolate Pot

I love this painting. The pastels are restrained, the lines and execution are even, and the subject matter is almost bland, but for that, all the more charming in its sincerity (look at the drapery, the tie of the apron, and her shoes!) It feels totally effortless, as though Liotard got every detail exactly right by intuition. It has such firm graphic force. I know it from a cheap Phaidon book of reproductions my Dad bought me when I was a little kid. I still have the book - I was thumbing through it just now and thought of the Beauty blog when I saw this picture for the first time in years.


This is my downstairs neighbor, DJ, and a good friend of mine. This image is beautiful because it's tangible proof that he'd rather look like the filthiest man alive for two days, in public, than go back on his word. Or, to phrase it another way, this image is beautiful because it proves that he's actually as tough as his mustache tries to be.