The Beauty of Dissonance

Beauty by Maria L. Berg 2022

Beauty

Today is the first time in this exciting study of abstract nouns that I’m revisiting a word to study it more deeply. When I first approached beauty on the second day of the A to Z Challenge in April, I found a thorough definition on dictionary.com. My Merriam Webster’s defines it only slightly differently (the quality or aggregate of qualities . . . gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit: Loveliness), so I still have the same questions about inherent beauty and perceived beauty. This morning I thought, if beauty is defined by culture and/or group-think of an era or time-period does it really exist at all?

To start to explore these questions, I turned to philosophy. In the book Does the Center Hold? by Donald Palmer I found an interesting passage about Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872)’s thoughts on beauty. He believed that a human being is fundamentally good and from the beginning of the species every human community has aspired, consciously or unconsciously, to achieving: love, truth, beauty, happiness, wisdom, purity, and strength. The book says “among others,” but sticks to that list. Guess which abstractions I’ll be focusing on further 😃. Next month?

This got me thinking about the famous ending from “Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats :

 “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all

                Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

Does that narrow down Feurbach’s list–and my study–to only two abstract nouns? Or only one? And how would I choose? I would think that would include wisdom. If truth and beauty are indeed the same, if I focus all of my images on beauty, will I be making images of truth? Will I eventually look at my beautiful image and see truth equally in the image?

Looking at beauty physically, many people believe symmetry is beautiful, others like asymmetry. Some look at a mole on a face and see a blemish, others see a beauty mark. Looking at beauty mathematically, the artists of the Renaissance believed in the golden ratio. I think of this when I include the curve from my metal mirror in my photos like I did for Value.

Looking back at the images I created for beauty before, I can see what I was going for: the shapes, a geometric representation of flowers and leaves, shows the conflict of the wild beauty of nature and the human desire to tame it. I also see this dichotomy of beauty in the glowing primary colors: yellow (sun and flowers), red (flowers, some berries), blue (water and sky). And the green–a combination and a contrast–a union of blue and yellow contrasting with red, but also representing the leaves that surround the red flowers or berries, the grass that meets the water, the floor to the ceiling of sky.

When I look at those images, I see all of that, but I also don’t see beauty. I think the images may try to do too much. They feel busy. Though the colors and shapes give pleasure to my senses, the images don’t exalt.

How do I want to explore beauty today? This time around I want to look for beauty in simplicity. I think there’s graceful movement in beauty, or beauty in graceful movement.

Looking Forward, Looking Back by Maria L. Berg 2022

dVerse Poets Pub

For today’s Meeting the Bar: Critique and Craft prompt, Björn invites us to explore dissonance in our poetry. I love dissonance, especially the discordant combinations I create in my songs. I guess I haven’t really thought about the poetic tools of linguistic dissonance before. Great prompt!

The Poem

An Unexpected Irritation that Lingers

There is a man in the bushes to my left
He crunches and snaps, rustles and breaks
His every movement is destruction–
I believe he thinks–in the name of clearing,
taming nature to his will

I cannot see him through the thick
rhododendron he stomps and the
Japanese camellia he mangles caught
under the cherry-plum, but I see
the hedge move with a crack and a snap
and I know he has crossed

under the cherry-plum into the
leaf-shadows of this rhododendron
shuffling and crackling the crisp, dry
leaves as irritating and attention hoarding
as a jay or a spotted towhee, but his caw
is much worse than the jay’s screech.

When he finally speaks
the only thing he says is
cut your trees, cut your trees
cut your trees!

10 thoughts on “The Beauty of Dissonance

  1. This is absolutely stellar writing! I especially like; “but I see the hedge move with a crack and a snap and I know he has crossed under the cherry-plum into the leaf-shadows of this rhododendron shuffling.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You create something sinister here, the unseen destroyer, only the sounds give him away. Great use of the idea of dissonance. (sorry can’t like, WP won’t let me).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. your ‘beauty’ reflections rightfully raise questions, philosophy and dichotomy and the poem illustrates it so well – the man creating dissonance with his noises and destruction which he believes is creating beauty in order – the auditory observer thinks otherwise! This was such an enjoyable read Maria

    Liked by 1 person

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