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Beauty is a casual glimpse of something very ordinary

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You have to have a certain detachment in order to see beauty for yourself rather than something that has been put in quotation marks to be understood as “beauty.” Think about Dutch painting, where sunlight is falling on a basin of water and a woman is standing there in the clothes that she would wear when she wakes up in the morning—that beauty is a casual glimpse of something very ordinary. Or a painting like Rembrandt’s Carcass of Beef, where a simple piece of meat caught his eye because there was something mysterious about it. You also get that in Edward Hopper: Look at the sunlight! or Look at the human being! These are instances of genius. Cultures cherish artists because they are people who can say, Look at that. And it’s not Versailles. It’s a brick wall with a ray of sunlight falling on it.

At the same time, there has always been a basic human tendency toward a dubious notion of beauty. Think about cultures that rarify themselves into courts in which people paint themselves with lead paint and get dumber by the day, or women have ribs removed to have their waists cinched tighter. There’s no question that we have our versions of that now. The most destructive thing we can do is act as though this is some sign of cultural, spiritual decay rather than humans just acting human, which is what we’re doing most of the time.


Matt. 15, 21 – 28

Þaðan hélt Jesús til byggða Týrusar og Sídonar. Þá kom kona nokkur kanversk úr þeim héruðum og kallaði: „Miskunna þú mér, Drottinn, sonur Davíðs! Dóttir mín er mjög kvalin af illum anda.“
En Jesús svaraði henni engu orði. Lærisveinar hans komu þá og báðu hann: „Láttu hana fara, hún eltir okkur með hrópum.“
Jesús mælti: „Ég er ekki sendur nema til týndra sauða af Ísraelsætt.“
Konan kom, laut honum og sagði: „Drottinn, hjálpa þú mér!“
Hann svaraði: „Ekki sæmir að taka brauð barnanna og kasta því fyrir hundana.“
Hún sagði: „Satt er það, Drottinn, þó eta hundarnir mola þá sem falla af borðum húsbænda þeirra.“
Þá mælti Jesús við hana: „Kona, mikil er trú þín. Verði þér sem þú vilt.“ Og dóttir hennar varð heil frá þeirri stundu.

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