One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Saturday, December 3, 2011

"Bouvard and Pecuchet" on the "Beautiful"

They've been dabbling into the abyss of aesthetics:

   In the first place, what is the Beautiful?
   For Schelling, it is the infinite expressing itself through the finite; for Reid, an occult quality; for De Maistre, that which is pleasing to virtue; for P. Andre, that which agrees with reason.
   And there are many kinds of beauty: a beauty in the sciences--geometry is beautiful; a beauty in morals--it cannot be denied that the death of Socrates was beautiful; a beauty in the animal kingdom--the beauty of the dog consists in his sense of smell. A pig could not be beautiful, having regard to his dirty habits; no more could a serpent, for it awakens in us ideas of vileness. The flowers, the butterflies, the birds may be beautiful. Finally, the first condition of beauty is unity in variety; there is the principle.
   "Yet," said Bouvard, "two squint eyes are more varied than two straight eyes, and produce an effect which is not so good--as a rule."
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