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2019-05-03

On the Journey, May: Beauty

The May issue of "On the Journey" has arrived! HERE

We'll be exploring BEAUTY. Don't miss it, and don't miss your Journey Group meeting to get together to work with this issue!

Here's your preparation:

Check In, p. 1. Where/how do you most often experience beauty?

"Poems," pp. 2-3. Issa, "virtue beyond virtue." Foster, "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair." Millay, "Still will I harvest beauty where it grows." Hopkins, "Pied Beauty." Gwynn, "Fried Beauty." Burroughs, "The Beauty of Black." Wilbur, "The Beautiful Changes." Byron, "She Walks in Beauty." Song of Songs Canticles.
Do any of these speak to you? Reveal a new perspective?

"Beauty Quotations," p. 4. Which quote is your favorite? Why?

"Beauty in People 1: A Twilight Zone episode synopsis," pp. 5-6. Is "lookism" a serious issue? Are standards of beauty/ugliness arbitrary?

"Beauty in People 2: The Gender Issue," pp. 6-7. (1) In what Alkon says, what is true? Of the parts that seem true, what is unchangeable reality and what could be changed?
(2) Rather than redefine personal beauty, why not instead, drop the idea that personal beauty matters? If how one feels inside is what matters, why call that “beauty”? (We tend not to call it beauty when it’s related to how men feel inside.)
(3) Which message is more important for a girl to hear: “You are smart and kind – beauty is for nature and art, not people” or “You are beautiful”?
(4) Is it possible and desirable that X minutes a day spent on dress and grooming (for any given value of X) will make the same social difference for a man as for a woman?

"Beauty in Nature," pp. 7-9. How does the Wilson/Dutton thesis change how you view nature?

"Beauty in Art," pp. 9-10. Is Dutton's argument convincing? Is Dutton’s account implicitly sex-specific? That is, given that the male peacock, not the peahen, evolved a large showy tail, does Dutton’s account explain artistic skill in men while failing to explain why it has evolved just as strongly in women?

TED Talks about Beauty. Which one is your favorite?
  • Denis Dutton (philosopher), “A Darwinian Theory of Beauty” (2010). This talk, quoted extensively in the issue, is worth watching for its delightful illustration. HERE.
  • Richard Seymour (designer), “How Beauty Feels” (2011). Our response to beauty and the surprising power of objects that exhibit it. HERE.
  • Eva Zeisel (ceramics designer), “The Playful Search for Beauty” (2001). Reflections on what has kept her work fresh through a 75-year career. HERE
Questions, p. 11.
  1. What’s unique (or nearly so) about your personal sense of beauty? What do you find beautiful that most other people seem not to?
  2. Confucius claimed, “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” Is this true? If everything is beautiful, then what is the point of beauty?
  3. If our society were to reduce gender inequalities (to the greatest extent you can imagine), what effects might this have on standards of personal beauty (for women or men)?
  4. We rarely hear the phrase, “a little bit beautiful.” Do most people – and do you -- tend to think of things as either beautiful or not – without much thought given to comparative degree of beauty? If so, is that a mistake?
  5. With the notable except of music, beauty tends to be a visual perception. For those of us who are sighted, most of the arts and all of natural and personal beauty seem to rely first and foremost on our vision. So how would becoming blind – as best as you can imagine – shift your relationship to beauty? Would the concept come to mind much less? Or would you reconceive its nature?
  6. Is there such a thing as too much beauty? In what ways do you withdraw from experiences of beauty, and why?
Our Spiritual Exercise: Find Beauty: HERE

The link to the current and all past issues of On the Journey can always be found at cucmatters.org/p/journey-groups.htm

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