It seems to me that Mr. Julius
is relying on a very narrow and frankly insupportable definition of "beauty
My senior wife
seems to me to be the most beautiful of women
, yet she's almost fifty years old and she takes liberties with me which my lesser wives
would tremble to contemplate. My youngest junior wife
is, by most ordinary standards -- including my own, all other things being equal
(though the point of this piece is that they rarely are) -- more beautiful
: She is young, unworn by care and hard labor, commendably demure and submissive, and so on. On paper, she's a paragon of young womanhood
, but my senior wife
delights me more.
How can this be so?
It's quite simple: I am neither a camera nor a robot. I am not a neural net: I am an immortal soul in a human body
. My perceptions are not, and cannot be, purely visual
. When we look on stranger, all we see is the surface
; when I look on my beloved senior wife
, I see the woman who has been my devoted helpmeet
for thirty years, through hardship and combat.
Thus our perceptions of those who cavort with Leo
, and of those who do not: Were I to so cavort
, those who drool over such nonsense would come to recognize my face. They'd read about me in the pages of People
, and I would in a sense (a sense meaningful to them
) become a part of their bleak, desperate little lives. Two starlet
s with equal visual appeal are not equal
in perceived beauty (the only kind) if one of them is well publicized and the other is not. I would guess that last year, your 50-year-old woman was a stranger to People
's readers, and that now, in a crude and limited way, she is not.
There are other factors as well:
Familiarity breeds contempt
in many cases. Maybe people are tired of Ali Landry
, whoever the hell she is. Or maybe she's just been out of the news lately. Are "beautiful
" and "interesting
" so different? No, they're intertwined. Both exist in that musty little crawlspace between our ears
. Maybe if she had
changed (even physical beauty has more than one axis
; she could be not more nor less, but differently beautiful
), she'd have held everyone's attention a little longer.
Or, uhh, you know, whatever. Physical beauty is only one element of that complex of phenomena called "beauty"
both in the pages of People
magazine and in the wide world outside. The details aren't important.