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Beauty In Arbitrariness

12 November 2020

Abdur Rahman :
Among beauty, happiness, right and wrong, beauty has been at the highest height of relativity to be interpreted. Since the planet's beginning, there has been an effort to define beauty by the people from ordinary man to great poet, from the learner to great philosopher. Since it's not a mathematical or grammatical phenomenon, monopoly goes to none to fix it rather it depends on the eye beholds it, the heart feels it. At times, it seems like water, as water takes the colour of the container contains it, similarly beauty gets defined by the eye witnesses it. Over time, culture, tradition, geography, history, race, faith beauty varies. But from some limited notions and tendencies mostly from the common mass it is found that they often seek beauty in nature and its elements as well as their arrangement. From man-made elements they often seek beauty in decorated, organized and bright things. But this corner is purely tiny in the fathomless gamut of beauty. Beauty magnifies further complexity not when it is sought in visible objects but when it is sought in invisible things. As human is free in his world of imagination, he shapes beauty in his imagination. Sometimes he gives the non-existent beauty into existent one. Though the common people can not always shape their imagined beauty into a being but artists and poets very often can do it. Poets and artists have shaped beauty from their imagination but some of them have illustrated beauty in a very bizarre way. Leonardo da Vinci from his imagination, portrayed Monalisa, a portrait with global riddle for millions for centuries, over whether the face is smiling or gloomy. Apparently it's not a smiling and glossy face but Vinci portrayed it and found beauty in it more over since then it has been catching global fancy as an eye-catchy picture. Though Pablo Picasso's Guernica portrays the ravages of Spanish civil war, everything there is in shambles, people find beauty in it. Sometimes, beholder's sense of beauty diverts from the content of the art to the artistry of the artist in its creation. That's why people find beauty sometimes in horrific and scattered things. In literature, the most fertile field for cultivating aesthetics, beauty gets very unusual and bizarre portrayal debunking the traditional human inclination to seek beauty in rhythm and order. Robert Herrick (1591-1674), an English Cavalier poet titling a poem 'Delight in Disorder' promulgates and enjoys beauty in disorder. He seems very unconventional and paradoxical in his portrayal-
A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness…
…….I see a wild civility:
Do more bewitch me, than when art
Is too precise in every part.
'sweet disorder' disorder but sweet,  'dress kindles in a wantonness' dress kindles but in wantonness,' a wild civility' wild but civil.
Even two centuries after Herrick, the Romantic soul, Lord Byron (788-1824) goes no less unconventional in terms of portraying beauty in his poem 'She Walks in Beauty' -
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
Unlike others who compare beauty with bright things like sun, moon or flower, Byron compares his
beloved's beauty with 'Night' and her beauty is not purely a single entity of brightness but the
meeting or combination of both the darkness and brightness. Furthermore he does not call her
beauty 'gaudy' or extremely bright but tender light.
Predecessor of both these great poets, William Shakespeare (1564-1616), the dramatist of the
planet, overturns all traditions or known ways of portraying beauty and its comparison with other
things in his famous poem Sonnet 130. Every poet or lover puts his beloved's beauty over all other
things he compares with but here Shakespeare puts all other things over his beloved's beauty and
shows every exception. But he firmly asserts that his love is a rare one without any false
comparison -
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
In modern age, as sense of artistic beauty is largely sought in the assemblage of the fragments and scatters, Montage and Collage, two modern techniques of assemblage of different forms creating a new whole, have developed widely. After the world wars modern man's mirror is broken so his world reflected on the mirror is also broken. That's why advocate of our modern time, T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) calls the modern man's world "A heap of broken images". So our concept of beauty lies in broken unity (unity of broken things). In other fields- colour, dress, hair style, light, construction, concept of beauty wears unconventional and diverse colour. In terms of the colour of painting the wall or the colour of tiles, grey or ash is considered attractive colour which is not any bright colour, in terms of dress, faded, crept and rifted jeans are preferred attractive, in case of hairstyles- Low Fade, High Fade, Mid Fade, Temple Fade, Bald Fade, Afro Fade are considered beautiful and attractive hairstyles. In case of light, sometimes dim light is preferred to the bright as attractive colour. So beauty is something that can quench the thirst of human heart and human eyes in any form.

(Mr. Rahman is Lecturer in English, Birshreshtha Noor Mohammad Public College, Peelkhana, Dhaka; Email: abdurrahmaniueng@gmail.com)

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