Mind Shadows      Beauty: Point, Counterpoint, and a Different View: VS Ramachandran, Gerald Schroeder, & ee cummings

I chanced upon two different points of view on the aesthetics of beauty, one by VS Ramachandran, with remarkably keen insights into the workings of the brain, but with physical explanations for all that. The other view is couched by Gerald Schroeder, a physicist who sees something more than the merely physical behind our perceptions of beauty. I set them side by side, and to phrase a different viewpoint I drew on poet ee cummings about an average Joe. The poem is its own explanation.

Point: " . . . what the Chola bronze artist does is something quite clever. There are some postures that are forbidden to a male. I can't stand like that even if I want to. But a woman can do it effortlessly. So what he does is he goes into an abstract space I call 'posture space', and then subtracts the average male posture from the female and then exaggerates the feminine posture —and then you get elegant triple flexion—or tribhanga—pose, where the head is tilted one way, the body is tilted exactly the opposite way, and the hips again the other way. And again you don't say: 'My God, that's anatomically inappropriate. Nobody can stand like that.' You say: 'My God! It's gorgeous. It's beautiful! It's a celestial goddess.' So the image is extremely evocative and it's an example of the peak shift principle in Indian art."
--VS Ramachandran, 2003 Reith Lectures on neuroscience & a physicalist explanation of consciousness

Counterpoint: "Viewing a work of art such as Auguste Rodin's The Burghers of Calais might give that pleasure [of ecstasy]. Even such a totally intellectual experience as discovering a piece of deep wisdom and incite this feeling of awesome wonder. Some common aspect within these diverse experiences transcends the details, resides in the eternal."
--Gerald L. Schroeder, The Hidden Face of God, subtitled, Science Reveals The Ultimate Truth

Different view:
mr youse needn't be so spry
concernin questions arty

each has his tastes but as for i
i likes a certain party

gimme the he-man's solid bliss
for youse ideas i'll match youse

a pretty girl who naked is
is worth a million statues
--ee cummings, "mr youse needn't be so spry"


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