Today the blogalectic is doing something different. Masha, if you didn’t know, just had a baby. Jenna is by her own confession ‘all kinds of crazy right now’, and I’m about as busy as the world’s last bee. So the question before us is simply this: where are the places we find beauty?
This is in many ways a difficult question for me. I know where those places are, but I’m not generally inclined to go saying where they are. Beauty strikes me in strange ways, bursting round on me when I least expect it, assuming forms I wouldn’t look for, lurking and crouching in the crossways and corners. A well turned phrase can leave me spellbound. A familiar place is rendered strange and wonderful.
Nor do I think—or can I think—that beauty is equated with happiness. Or with seriousness. Beauty can be heartbreakingly terrible. Beauty can be silly. Beauty is capricious and winsome, Beauty frustrates and eludes us and then rewards us with a sudden unexpected burst of laughter.
There was, I think, a deeper intent than the pragmatic when painters drew and poets sang of Beauty as a woman.
I suppose I could draw some crazy and riotous map of the unknown world, and post that as being the place where I find beauty. Or I could sidestep and evade the question, suggesting through corners and shutters where beauty might be found. (That would have involved posting this video.) And a surprising number of verbal bits I wanted to post turned out to be under copyright.
So the best thing I can do is offer you this. It’s not mine, not really. Most of the credits are on the still, but the Japanese lyrics (which you can listen to here) are by Hayao Miyazaki, and the English adaptation is by Neil Gaiman.
I don’t claim to understand it quite, but I don’t think beauty is ever quite understood. But I can say that heard in its original context—viz., I watched the movie, one of Miyazaki’s great auteur pieces—it began a long and perhaps unending process of breaking open my heart to see wonder again.