AnnieKO'Connor

Beauty and Order

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The woods are not beautiful because of the way they make us feel. Nor the sunset, nor the stars.

They are beautiful, in part, because of the mystery that perfect science has created them. There has been no artifice, no test tubes; only the purest workings of molecules subjected to their circumstances over time have created in this order these items.

The Romantic prefers to ignore reason, referring to rationality as an inhibition, something binding us and blindfolding the eyes of our souls. But this is not so. Reason is the eyes of our souls. Order, meaning, logic, structure, science, objectivity are what make beauty beautiful. A sentence without meaning can hold no beauty: a grammarless concatenation of letters/words could not create a poem, a novel, a classic. It could not change the world. It is grammar that makes the sentence, science—the grammar of the world—that makes ordered organisms grow according to some written standard, according to its law, that makes the tree beautiful.

Order is the alchemist.

So when we purvey the beauty thus created, we cannot then shirk order as an inhibition. We cannot imagine that beauty frees us from order. How can something so necessary for beauty be the very thing that beauty disallows? It cannot.

Even an abstract painting is the beauty of order. Take Jackson Pollock. It is our eyes that refuse to be dizzied and confused by his paintings that subsume the whole into a unit that causes the painting to be beautiful. And more so its place in the history of art, its grammatical response, its logical rebuttal to what preceded it, adds to its value.

It is not when our so-called inhibitions are eliminated that we discover the truest beauty. It is when the overwhelming power of order in the universe is reunited with semantics, with life, and with human creatures capable of beholding that power, when beauty is at its height. Beauty is the reunion of the disparate realms.

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