Full Name:  Ann Dixon
Username:  test@brynmawr.edu
Title:  Testing
Date:  2005-01-17 14:49:04
Message Id:  12051
Paper Text:


Web Papers
On Serendip



WWW Sources





Full Name:  Rachel Usala
Username:  rusala@brynmawr.edu
Title:  My Haunting Memory: an Experience of Beauty
Date:  2005-01-25 12:02:12
Message Id:  12221
Paper Text:


Web Papers
On Serendip

We are always asked as children, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" A ballerina, an astronaut, and a pilot are all typical answers, but I dreamt of being a pianist. I wanted to sit on a large stage with a flighty roof and pour my heart out to the heavens, oblivious to an admiring crowd. My fingers would beat a vicious tempo and then smoothly transition to a soft, heavenly ending, as if my notes were dewdrops falling from butterfly wings. No, I don't think that's exactly right. It wasn't the music that fascinated me as much as the grace of a pianist performing. The harmony that radiates from a master pianist's tense body, tilted head, and rapid hands were beauty itself.

I practiced hard, but after eight years of lessons, I realized I was possibly the most dissonant musician on God's earth and retired the little brown piano from earnest playing. Every couple of weeks I would return and sit on the bench, wipe off the dust, and play a little ditty, painfully reliving my failure. I got in the habit of confronting all my frustrations, not just my failures as a pianist, by playing. The wrong notes and faulty tempo seemed to express my unspoken inadequacies and allowed me to wallow in self-pity.

On the night of my twelfth birthday, I sat down at the piano. I was angry. My mom had gotten sick during the day and cancelled my birthday party. She said it had taken all her strength to pick me up from school: she couldn't possibly host a party. Because I blamed her for spoiling my special day, I decided to get away from my mom by spending the night at a friend's house. My luggage lay by the piano. When the doorbell rang, I picked up my bag, closed the piano cover, and walked out of the house, leaving Mom to suffer in isolation. I have never regretted anything more in my life.

When I got home the next day, my family told me that Mom had been on her deathbed. She had contracted pneumonia and suffered adrenal hemorrhage as a complication. Ironically, my brother Colin had been the only one who had realized how sick my mother was. Even my father, a physician, had first concluded that the symptoms were viral, a severe cold. My mother survived after a year recovery but is permanently medicated.

John Dewey said, "The world is full of things that are indifferent and even hostile to life.... Nevertheless, if life continues...there is a transformation of [the organism's existence] into [a]...more significant life (1)." He's right. For years I was racked with guilt for not weeping and praying by my mother's bed on the eve of her illness, but after the ache of regret had faded a little, my perspective changed for the better. I appreciated things I never had before.

For one, my brother Colin gained a kind of beauty in my eyes. He had always been special in his own right. He is popular, intelligent, articulate, handsome, and romantically rebellious, but despite all these endearing qualities, his real beauty had surfaced during that January night when he exhibited a conscious, compassionate understanding for Mom. He knew that something was wrong even though he was only ten. His sixth sense for a loved one, he's ability to step out of himself and feel the pain of someone close to him, is more beautiful than the skill of a master pianist. I regret not being at my parent's bedside not only for my mother's sake, but also because I am sorry that I missed the opportunity to see an exquisite quality in my own brother, which I never knew existed.

My mother also gained a kind of beauty. I had almost lost her, and things have a tendency to develop a whimsical elegance when transient, like a late blooming flower. I suddenly wanted to know everything about my mother: what her childhood was like, how her pregnancies had been, what her own relationship with her mother, father, and grandmother had been like. Each of her memories was a precious gem I tried to lock away in order to preserve that façade of her immortality, which had been shattered when she contracted adrenal insufficiency. "Because the actual world, that in which we live, is a combination of movement and culmination, of breaks and re-unions, the experience of a living creature is capable of esthetic quality (2)." That I had left my mother in her time of direst need accentuated the "break" and yawning gap between my mother and I, and I worked to create a "re-union." In the process I developed a more mature understanding of aesthetics and an appreciation for the beauty and delicacy of mortality. In literature they call these experiences loss of innocence and treat such moments has tragic. Yes, in a sense it is tragic that my appreciation of spontaneous beauty, like a master pianist performing, lost its significance in my life, but other, better things gained more importance. My loss of innocence is beautiful for how it changed me.

My mom's near-death experience brought about another change: a strengthening of my conviction to follow a career in science. Although being a pianist had been my dream occupation, becoming a physician had always been my practical ambition, even before my mom's illness. This was only natural: my entire family is scientists or doctors and shares their lives and career experiences with me. My father and uncles are doctors, my aunts are all nurses, my grandfather was an organic chemist, and my mother is a microbiologist. Nevertheless, my mother's near-death motivated me to pursue a career in science with a new sense of purpose for two reasons. First, my father had been the one that saved my mother's life. Six doctors had looked at my mother and failed to diagnose her adrenal insufficiency. Only my father, at the last moment, had made the diagnosis and given my mother her life. I was impressed enough by the power of my father's knowledge and the magnitude of the gift, life, that he was able to bestow that I decided to study science. Second, I felt I had the potential to become a scientist or a great doctor because my father had shown great skill and saved a life. I'd always had the irrational notion that a parent and a child are inexorably linked and that the potential in the parent can be passed down to the child, genetically or otherwise. That my father had saved a life so close to him made me feel that somehow I too had the potential to save a family member's life. Maybe I would someday save my daughter's life. If I did, it would be a way of making up for not being there for my mom. It would also be a means of gaining through scientific knowledge a beautiful, if superficial, sixth sense like the kind I had seen and envied in my brother Colin.

After my father's ingenious diagnosis, I decided to study chemistry and mathematics and make it my art. I call science my "art" because "art celebrates with peculiar intensity the moments in which the past reenforces the present and in which the future is a quickening of what now is (3)," and that is what science does for me. Each science or math class paints a more complete picture of the universe. I've seen calculus explain special relativity and the application of constructive and destructive interference of electromagnetic waves from my physics class clarify molecular orbital theory in my organic chemistry class. To me this is the essence of beauty and harmony and what Dewey called "the past [reenforcing] the present:" each of my scientific experiences has built on another. Science "as the quickening of what now is" is even more explicit. Without the scientific method or mathematics we would not have the potential to predict the weather, diagnose disease, or electronically chronicle the enormous amount of literature, scientific data, and art that mankind has created. Without science the world would not have ready access to these developments nor the experiences of others to build upon, which are the seeds of progress and the quickening, or expediency, of forwarding thinking.

My mother's near-death experience and recovery changed me in such a dynamic way that I consider it an experience of beauty. It opened so many doors for me. I gained a new appreciation for my brother and my mother. My own sheltered, child-like sense of immortality was replaced with a more realistic and more meaningful love of mortal, transient life. My father's show of skill by saving my mother's life inspired me to pursue a career as a scientist or doctor and motivated me to study chemistry and mathematics. My scientific education has been nothing less than a beautiful and fulfilling journey in and of itself. It is said that the same kind of brain activity is used for mathematical and scientific reasoning as for musical performance. I am happy that mathematics and science are becoming my instruments as the piano never was.

Ironically, I never play the piano anymore. I can't bring myself to sit on the bench, rest by hands on the white and ebony keys, and feel the music assuage my frustrations. The piano is haunted by my memory of my twelfth birthday and a selfish, blind little girl. I use this memory to remind me of my imperfection: even the pain of guilt is beautiful.

1. John Dewey, "The Live Creature." Art as Experience (1934; rpt. New York: Perigee, 1980. vii-viii, 14.)
2. John Dewey, "The Live Creature." Art as Experience (1934; rpt. New York: Perigee, 1980. vii-viii, 14.)
3. John Dewey, "The Live Creature." Art as Experience (1934; rpt. New York: Perigee, 1980. vii-viii, 18.)

Full Name:  Alanna Albano
Username:  ajalbano@brynmawr.edu
Title:  My Experience of Beauty
Date:  2005-01-26 00:11:14
Message Id:  12230
Paper Text:


Web Papers
On Serendip

As I sit at my computer, typing this essay about what I find to be beautiful in this world, I listen to the harmonious sounds that pour forth from my computer's speakers. I play Beethoven not only because I love to listen to his music, but also to motivate my writing. I reason that if I listen to music that I think is beautiful, then I will better be able to produce a paper on the subject matter at hand. It is an interesting dilemma: beauty is a common enough term, and one would like to think it should be quite easy to write a paper about it. However, this is not the case at all. Struggling to figure out how exactly to go about describing my experiences of beauty in this paper has shown me that I have not taken the time to truly contemplate what I find beautiful in my life, and why. I have never put my perception of "beauty" into words on paper, until now. Of all the things I find beautiful, my family relationships are the most beautiful because they stem from love. Love has kept us together through good times and bad times, and it has helped us to find unlimited strength and support in each other.

I have four younger brothers, named Matthew, Ryan, Jesse, and Jeremy. Matthew is
eighteen, Ryan is sixteen, Jesse is ten, and Jeremy is eight. The relationship that my brothers and I share is very beautiful for me. Matt, who possesses a love for math and science (just as I do), will constantly try to ask me questions or start up a conversation with me about different problems in calculus or physics. Sometimes his questions are so complex that I cannot give him an answer, but I still take delight in our talks. Sometimes we will take a walk to the town library at night in the brisk cold, discussing his latest wrestling match, or remaining in peaceful silence as we watch out for puddles in the pouring rain. As we walk, we find safety and security in the fact that we are together in the spooky darkness. Although he is also a big science fan, Ryan is the comedian of the family and will always try to throw a little joke or funny remark my way if he notices that I am not feeling well or I am acting cranky. If jokes do not work, then his next alternative is to offer himself as my personal "assistant" and ask if I would like him to bring me a glass of water or a pillow. To these offers I sigh and say no, because I do not want him fetching things for me. Privately I cannot help but smile to myself, because it is very sweet of him to try and help me. Ryan seems disappointed because he thinks that he has failed in his attempts to make me feel better; however, little does he realize that to me he has not failed, nor has he ever failed. Ryan unknowingly demonstrates the truth of this statement as he places a blanket over me while I drift off to sleep on the couch.

Jesse and Jeremy, my two youngest brothers, both have autism. I tell this fact because I want my readers to understand that although autism is a terrible disorder, it is still very possible to look beyond this disorder and see a wonderful kind of beauty, the kind of beauty that only love could see. Jesse has a special game that he likes to play with me, and he calls it "Tickle." He comes up to me, grabs my hand, and then pulls me along just far enough and shouts "tickle." He runs away and I chase after him, finally catching up to him in order to tickle him. Sometimes he will snuggle up against me on the couch as we watch Finding Nemo together. Other times he will make me sing songs from Annie, or we will just end up being silly with each other and laughing. If he gets too silly, he may accidently spit his soda all over himself. To this I respond by sighing and wiping his shirt with a paper towel; yet, I cannot help but chuckle because he still looks very cute. Jeremy is also very cute. Although Jeremy does not play the games that Jesse does and prefers to be alone more often, he still likes to watch movies with me on the couch. Sometimes, he will even come up to me, wrap his arms around my neck very tightly, and plant little kisses on my cheek. I hug and kiss him as well, and then I pick him up and spin him around until he laughs like crazy. One of Jeremy's favorite things is going out for walks. He can often be found putting his shoes on and trying to pull me out of the house for a walk, even if it is minus ten degrees outside. Although I am hesitant to face the frigid outdoors, I know that seeing the contented look on his face will make the journey worthwhile.

The relationship with my father has been another source of beauty in my life. Throughout my years at Bryn Mawr College, he has been not only an excellent father to me, but also a dedicated friend, mentor, and source of strength and support. If I was having a difficult time at school, he was the one I would call. When I decided that my major was going to be chemistry, he was the first to know. When Valentine's Day came and that special someone did not, he would send me a card. If I was short on cash for buying textbooks, he would send me some money. If he knew I was having relentless chocolate cravings, he would send me chocolate in the mail. When I was home during winter breaks, sometimes he and I would go out to our favorite steakhouse, just the two of us, to order our favorite dishes and reminisce about the year. Or we would just go out to get some errands done, enjoying some peaceful time in the car.

On my right hand, I wear a beautiful item that my dad bought for me as an early
graduation present. It is my Bryn Mawr ring, with its picture of three owls at the top. The ring is not as shiny as it used to be, and it is quite scratched since I wear it all of the time, but to me the ring is one of the most beautiful items I have ever owned. The ring reminds me of my father and his love for me, because he is the one who insisted that he buy the ring for me to have and enjoy. The ring also serves as a reminder of Bryn Mawr, and all of my classes and experiences there. It shows where I have belonged for the past three years, the place that I call my second home.

My father often took me and my brothers to the Jersey shore, and these trips introduced another beautiful object to me: the ocean. With its sparkling sands, blue foaming waters, and assortment of deep sea wildlife, the ocean has always filled me with a sense of awe and mystery. Some of the memories tucked away in my mind have fondly recalled my days as a little girl and my visits to the beach. The various sensory experiences that I had of the ocean created pleasant memories in my mind that make me view the ocean as something beautiful. I often scoured the sand for beautiful shells and pebbles, small souvenirs to take back home with me. Occasionally I would find a small crab digging in the sand, or a slimy transparent jellyfish washed ashore. I absolutely enjoyed strolling along the boardwalk, smelling delicious food cooking and hearing the noisy sounds of the arcades. The seagulls chirped high up in the air; and, as annoying as they were, I still considered them to be beautiful simply because they were part of the ambiance. I remember how I used to run right up to the waves, my feet sinking into the wet sand as I hurried to watch the waters before they swished and churned back into the ocean. I would then run away, very excited yet somewhat frightened, as the mighty waves crashed back onto the sand and began to chase me. I liked dipping my feet in the water, but I almost never went swimming. As beautiful as the ocean was to me, it also seemed very big, scary and powerful. It could swallow me up in an instant if it wanted to. As scared as I was, I only went out into the water if my daddy took me in. It was only when I went out swimming with him that I could experience the beauty of the ocean outside of my comfort zone. There was no sand to support my feet, no soft beach towel to run to, and the waters were not even calm. I felt completely vulnerable since it was just my dad and I, and the water all around us. Despite my fears, I simply could not help feeling captivated and awestruck by the marvelous blue beauty that stretched for endless miles away from us.

Since four years of age I have been a dancer, and I have always viewed the image of the dancer, as well as the dance itself, to be quite beautiful. Many times, I have gazed at the dancers during a performance, admiring their muscular form and noting how gracefully and dramatically they moved across the stage. Whether it was The Nutcracker or Chicago, the dancers captivated me in the way that they would so freely express the emotions of the moment with their bodies. The theaters and the stage scenery often added another element of beauty to the dance performances. I remember sitting in the balcony of the Academy of Music, watching a performance of The Nutcracker. I recall the soft lighting, the old wooden seats, the intricate ceiling and the chandelier above; these all added a special feeling to my viewing of the dances that I knew could not be found elsewhere. The sparkling candy canes and lightly falling snow on the stage made the dances seem that much more magical and thrilling to my eyes. Tchaikovsky's musical score added the final piece that made the performance a beautiful memory for me.

My experience of beauty would not be complete if I were not to mention any kind of
actual artwork that I find to be beautiful. I am very fond of art, and the artist whose paintings I admire most is Pierre-Auguste Renoir. In my old home, there used to hang a Renoir painting in our living room, entitled On the Terrace (1). In this painting, a little girl stands next to a sitting young woman on a patio that overlooks a lake. I never paid much attention to it at first; yet, as I got older, I couldn't help but feel the eyes of the little girl in the picture staring at me. It was almost as if she was silently pleading for me take a closer look at her and the young lady sitting next to her, and to not ignore all of the wondrous beauty that the painting had to offer. Upon further scrutiny, I began to notice how brilliantly Renoir combined the different colors in the painting to make it eye catching, but not overpowering. His gentle brush strokes added a touch of softness to the art, which nicely blended the colors together and almost made it seem as if I was viewing some sort of peaceful dream. His paintings all seem very inviting and approachable; many of them depict happy social gatherings and dances. These paintings almost seem to draw out their hands and say, "Welcome! Won't you join in the fun?" The fact that these works of art can convey that kind of a message to me only serves to heighten my experience of their beauty.

My struggles prove to be fruitful after all; I have succeeded in describing what sorts of things I find to be beautiful. Writing this paper has also shown me that my own experience of beauty is best understood by looking at what I value most in my life: the relationships that I share with my loved ones.

WWW Sources

1)WebMuseum, Paris

Full Name:  Mo-Gyung Rhim
Username:  mrhim@brynmawr.edu
Title:  Tongue
Date:  2005-01-26 07:35:36
Message Id:  12232
Paper Text:


Web Papers
On Serendip

My house was one of silence. But please don't misunderstand. We had our share of yelling, laughing, and crying. With three children, the house was almost never void of someone's noise—a piano lesson to prepare for, a drum beating out the melody of the piano or my mother on the phone in the kitchen speaking rapidly at such a pace that her voice becomes a humming of tones going up and down fluctuating with natural rhythm of her natural tongue. My family was never in want of noise, but for most of my life, we lived in silence. Silence is not simply the lack of sound, but it goes deeper into the lack of information, the lack of knowledge, and the tense anticipation of waiting for something to really listen to.

My parents are immigrants from the old school ways—a different time, a different place. Dinners were quiet—a ritual to be observed and practiced. The symbolic silence at the dinner table and the strictness with which it was observed in our younger years is more symbolic of the silence surrounding my parents' lives and our understanding of their pasts than it might seem. Silence at dinner is not actually a strict cultural ritual, but to my father, sitting at the head of the table, there was never a need to talk. Simply, eating was an action to be performed, not spoken. My parents' approach to talking about themselves was much the same as it was towards dinner—they simply didn't see a need to talk about their lives or past memories. Parenting was something that was supposed to be done directly through action and through stern lectures that precisely pinpointed mistakes and ways to improve. It wasn't so much that they gave their three kids the silent treatment for more than 20 years, but it was that there was never a genuine concern with telling them anything that did not pertain directly to raising their children. Thus, it ended up that my parents were silent about most things except the more mundane everyday chores of parenting. My parents did not realize that what my siblings and I needed most from them was to fill in the spaces of question marks.

For so many years, information that most would learn in elementary school was uncharted territory for the three kids in my family. This particular silence left me unsatisfied to say the least. I felt as though I could not understand myself: who I was, where I came from, what constructed the identity that I did not know what to do with. Being a child of a first generation American brought me to a weird place of limbo where I could not fully reconcile being Korean with being American. Without being able to internalize my parents' memories I felt as though I could not remember my own identity in terms of being a hyphenated American. I could not remember my Korean side.

On a quest for some deeper and grander understanding of my identity and my history, I dedicated the middle part of my life to prying information out of my parents. At the age of nine I learned my parents full, correct names. There is something that happens when you realize that your father's name isn't actually "John;" something happens when you realize that Soo Woo and John are not your parents standing before you. At ten I found out that my parents immigrated to Los Angeles at the old age of 27. At fifteen I learned that my father was not always a Corporate Finance expert. When I was sixteen I realized he had another life before this family and before this career. He was a writer and a good one too apparently. I learned that he went to college in Korea and earned a bachelor's degree in journalism. Next, a job at the second largest newspaper in Korea. A fight with an editor. A punch throw. A job lost. A life lost. Two tickets to America with the first born on the way. At seventeen my father revealed a tryst with the KCIA, his grand life traveling as a hobo, his dangerous stunts. At eighteen I found out that my sister had spent a year of her life in Korea when she was an infant while my parents worked in LA. A year of her life that was once lost to me, was gained back simply because I knew. I believed more than ever that it was essential for me to know my parents' stories. It was necessary for me if I was ever to move from this static place of being born of two people with no memory and being thrust into making my own. How could I start when the two people who I sprang from gave me nothing to start with?

Even with my treasure chest of secrets pried out with the delicacy of dentistry, I still needed to know more. I don't know if it was the emptiness of the house after children had left to pursue the dreams he wanted them to find and the noiselessness that allowed him the space to breathe, to think, to remember, but it was on a completely unexpected day that I met my father. Sitting in the kitchen after a not so particularly eventful or meaningful lunch on a casual and unsuspecting Sunday afternoon, my sister (back from college) and I sat a little while longer after the dishes had been moved. The three of us began talking about everything—school, jobs, sports. Even though I usually remember the precise and repetitive line of questioning that it usually took to pick out the memories that my parents seemed to guard as closely as secrets, I cannot recall how we started talking on this one particular subject that I had honestly never thought to ask about: my grandfather.

To my father, his father is a great source of pride, admiration and respect. I could always sense from a young age the genuine emotion that flowed from my father to his. On that day, my sister asked something about how my grandfather was doing in Korea. My father, never one to answer a question directly, launched into a series of stories and memories that he has of his childhood and his father. My sister and I listened with rapt attention as most people do when listening to my father tell stories that seem so rare and this day he seemed to be almost giddy with remembering and with telling too. Then a pause.

My father began to cry. This wasn't the polite crying, dab the corner of your eyes, squeeze a couple drops out for show kind of crying. They were sobs—soul shredding, body shaking, rip your hair out, rupturing sobs. To this day, that remains the single time that my father has ever cried in the presence of one of his children. The moment was more dramatic than a Lifetime movie. The air was quiet and we were still. Even my father was almost motionless and noiseless as only his shoulders shook and his head bobbed up and down a little. Both my sister and I were stunned into complete shock, awe and amazement at what those wet streaks were running down his face. It was all so foreign to us.

We were silent.

My father explained quite simply that he thought of his father dying. That single thought produced this reaction. Quietly he got up and left the kitchen table to retreat into his study, his leaving in silence and my realization of what he had just revealed was calming somehow. That day it didn't matter that my father was willing to say only a couple of words of soft explanation. His silence that day did not leave me unsatisfied. It's not a story of how my father finally came to reveal himself to me in a touching, detailed account of his life. It was a handful of memories and a single serving of tears. But I felt fulfilled by that encounter. I learned who my father was at the core of things.

He is simply a man who loves his father.

And that was enough.


WWW Sources





Full Name:  Amy Martin
Username:  aemartin@brynmawr.edu
Title:  Beauty from the Eye of the Beholder
Date:  2005-01-26 09:10:17
Message Id:  12234
Paper Text:


Web Papers
On Serendip

On this breathtakingly beautiful day, the world seems to be inching along. Everything is clean in a blanket of white that highlights the natural contours that are on this campus. Outside my window, each and every skinny, sinewy tree branch has been defined by snow. I love how delicate and fragile, yet strong and resilient the tiniest of branches looks. The old adage that beauty comes in many shapes and sizes is true. As I struggle to grasp how to put into words my experience with beauty, I've come to the conclusion that we can find the innately beautiful in all our experiences.

I strive to be a woman who can find beauty. I see it everywhere, in the ocean, in the concise design of an Eames chair, in Frida Kahlo's paintings, in my niece learning how to walk. My excitement with and enjoyment of that which I find beautiful ultimately ties back to a sense of wonder and of gratitude. Life can be incredibly depressing if you let it. The newspaper's headlines rarely give us a chance to see the beauty that is inherent in the world as we know it. It may seem simplistic or naïve but when anything touches one of my senses or my heart or mind, it always feels like a little gift that reminds me of the goodness in life, the surprises that can change the entire feeling of a day.

Driving through the midnight tar of the night, ensconced in our blue van, we're singing loudly- goading each other to remember the words to songs plucked randomly from our conscious. Traveling in this air-conditioned bubble of laughter, I remember getting the chills and thanking God for my family. The beauty of that night has remained with me since because it captured an essence that I was so familiar with all my childhood, but never became fully conscious of until that moment. It was the first time that I recognized the ephemeral quality of joy. Those seconds were slipping through my hands, but I felt them so intensely they became concrete. It was such a beautiful night because I knew they were merely flimsy moments, disintegrating as soon as they strung together. What is ineffable is often the most beautiful because it emerges spontaneously, and remains a unique, individual memory of beauty.

The snippets of beauty bring an almost divine serenity to the chaotic and harsh world. One day walking into Grand Central after a particularly harried trip to New York, the main passageway reverberated with the deep tenor of a homeless man singing Bob Marley's "Redepemtion Song". That glimpse of musical and lyrical beauty became spiritual. It became the best kind of beautiful because it felt like I saw the light outside differently, everything was a little sharper and clearer. When I experience beauty, it refreshes my idea of being alive. It can be as simple as a warm shower when it is really needed, seeing how beads of water accumulate up and down my arm - those mere seconds are a sounding bell for me to not take my world for granted, to be of that moment. For me, there is the sense of the divinely beauty in both the appreciation of what is beautiful and the actual experience that then becomes beautiful in its own right.

The art and text that I find to be most beautiful are the ones that reflect these ideas of the divinely beautiful, the gratitude and wonder of the beautiful. They take the small occurrences that can be so easily overlooked and lead us to their beauty. Audre Lorde's poem "A Trip on the Staten Island Ferry" brings us to see the beauty in the mysteries of life - she writes "Every voyage is a journey". I've read this poem since fifth grade and every time I read it I get the chills from that line. That connection that an author can establish between themselves and their readers, universalizing life experiences that tie us humans to each other, even if we have nothing in common, is so beautiful. Reading the lines of Audre Lorde is just the same as being blown away by the paintings of Alice Neel. Although their art forms in and of themselves are beautiful, what is inherently beautiful about their works is how the thread of commonality they weave. We defined "cultured beauty" in class as the beauty we may find in Michangelo's Sistine Chapel, or Bach's music, or Shakespeare's prose, all things that we find beautiful because we are aware of the craftsmanship it took to create them. Additionally, the reason that we are drawn to examples of cultured beauty over and over again throughout time is their power to reflect the human experience within their works. Explicitly or implicitly, something about such works impacts our notions of living. Much like spontaneous beauty, they open us, if only for a short time, to a different way of seeing.

Despite all the objects, events or sights that open my eyes to their beauty daily, the epitome of beauty in my experience has always come from the relationship between two people. In her book "The Most Beautiful Place in the World" Ann Cameron writes, "Where you love somebody a whole lot and you know that person loves you, that's the most beautiful place in the world." Nothing in my life is more beautiful to me than my family and the close friends who have in turn become family.

My parents, Steven and Hildy Martin, are the definition of beautiful. Having been together almost twenty-five years, I am amazed that they still wake up together every morning and have things to say to one another. Yet, not only do they have things to say to one another, they are genuinely enthralled to be together – my dad finds my mom to be have a better sense of humor than she really does, my mom thinks my dad at forty-seven, slightly balding and pot bellied is one of the handsomest men she knows. This manipulation of reality is how we experience beauty. Instead of finding the faults and flaws in everything that is set before us, we find what we want to see. We make lemonade out of life's proverbial lemons. There is beauty within the idea that instead of constantly searching for an ideal that does not exist; we find that ideal within our loved ones.

It is not only the dynamic between my parents that makes them beautiful to me. I laugh harder with my family than anybody else. Numerous times my sister has laughed so hard she snorted milk from her nose. Given the least funny of situations- a funeral, a mental breakdown, someone sick in the hospital- my brother will not only find the humor, he will make my stomach ache from laughing. Growing up my house was a bastion of laughter, color and general levity. It has been described by numerous people as a circus. I love this sense of madness within our family unit because I know the strength that exists between the five of us. My parents have raised my siblings and I in a very open environment. As children, my parent's stresses and familial problems were known to us. They respected my siblings enough to raise us in an emotional environment that was open and honest. Though this method of parenting may not be advised, the inclusiveness of our family has created a deep trust that I have for my parents and my siblings. I have never hid anything from my parents. Since we communicate so openly, my parents have become two of my best friends. I know that no matter what I tell them or who I become, they will accept me. This unconditional love is beautiful because it seems to contrast with so many of the other aspects of life in which we put ourselves first. Loving someone unconditionally means giving up a piece of your ego and yourself and accepting that in order to love someone or appreciate them, they do not have to think like you, act like you or become who you have become. Unlike friends or lovers, I can never get up and leave my family. They will be with me through every stage of my life, each big move, each disappointment and so I am with them. This inescapability creates the pain and beauty of unconditional love. Our relationships force us to accept the growth and changes of the other, and love them nonetheless. This concept, like so many other things that are truly beautiful, is a contradiction - it is both complex and simple, both mysterious and peaceful, at times it can be ugly and wretched, but ultimately it is beautiful.

My most beautiful memories are those in which I have shared the beauty of life with the people I find most beautiful. My sister and brother and I climbed sandy dunes that at that age seemed as huge as monsters, we fell and rolled and then got back up to try again. It was so windy but we made it to the top to see the ocean. It wouldn't have been as beautiful if we hadn't struggled to get there, or if we didn't share the victory of reaching the top.

Even before I knew Angel was beautiful, we walked around the block time after time, ignorantly holding hands. It was early summer and it had just rained, the air was still heavy and wet. He took me to a parking lot and made it beautiful. He told me how he came to America and made a story that so many families have his own. One very average night out of millions of average nights became beautiful because of he showed me he was.

Childhood best friends, the four of us, have made an annual summer trip of going to Maggie's beach house on Singing Beach. When I'm there, I think that it is literally what heaven should look like, if there is a heaven. The deep blue of the ocean and the streaky stark white of the sky merge as one, and there is no horizon. This is not the best or most beautiful part. Rather the best of it, and the most beautiful, of it occurs on our way up and down, during the ten hours roundtrip. Time and distance force us into the confined space of a station wagon and in between the giggle fits, Indigo Girls songs, and fights we get to really know each other. Road tripping with my three best friends could be described as "fun" or with some other lame adjective, but when I get down to the nitty gritty of it, it is beautiful. We escape the distractions of our now three, separate, distinct lives and get to see one another much more readily and easily than we do in our day to day adventures together.

I have experienced beauty because I have let myself experience it. All the details that we leave by the wayside, the people we take for granted the experiences that quickly fade into memories stuck in the dusty back of our brains, when I slowly pick them apart I search for the beauty that is inherently within them.

Full Name:  Catherine E. Davidson
Username:  cdavidso@brynmawr.edu
Title:  La Beaute
Date:  2005-01-26 09:29:19
Message Id:  12235
Paper Text:
I slid down between two plastic cushions that made up the little blue chairs that were neatly set up around the waiting areas at the Chicago International Airport. One of the hundreds of pins that covered my dark blue blazer, which identified me as an American Exchange student, poked me in the back and I shifted myself to a more comfortable sitting position. The other American exchange students bustled about around me as we all waited anxiously for our boarding call that would lead to our year long adventure, I observed the people around me. I examined every detail, every crevice of the airport as I tried with great effort not to think about my family. I closed my eyes and tried to memorize that exact moment. This was the moment I had waited for since the third grade. Our call to board resonated over the loudspeaker and an instantaneous rollercoaster of emotions forced tears to my eyes. Before I entered the hallway that would bring me into the plane, I turned around and said goodbye to the Chicago International Airport that would be the last contact I would have with America for a year.
On the airplane I thought about how much work had led up to this moment. How I had dreamed and begged for this opportunity and my intense excitement quickly turned into anxiety. I was on my way to a place I found to be a completely different world from home: France. I had been to France once before with my family. The experience had been pleasant, but we had been tourists and I yearned to be a traveler, a real one, like the guys on the travel channel. I loved France since the third grade after an extracurricular Spanish class failed to intrigue me. I wanted to be graceful, sexy, and sophisticated like French women were rumored to be. I wanted to explore the exquisite food and the picturesque countryside. I wanted to roll French "r"s off my tongue and shop! At nine years old I wanted all of this so I started teaching myself French, and at 16, at the end of August, I was going to put all the words and rumors to a reality check. Did I have expectation? Yes. To me, France was beautiful and that is what I hoped I would find. It was a place I had studied that seemed to encompass everything I wanted to be and everywhere I wanted to be. I understood it on paper. Would the real thing live up to my expectations? I was afraid... of disappointment.
For awhile I was very American, with a thick accent, weird fashion sense, and a different concept of time. I was awkward but loved my host country. There were not as many shopping trips into Paris and I had hoped there would be; the French in general, spend pennies compared to Americans, especially on clothes. I will admit, there were French men trying to seduce me, waiting around every corner it seemed. That stereotype holds true, but they were not the hunky romantic ones from the movies that every girl dreams about. School was in French and quite hard to follow. The students were a bit cold and never really approached me the first semester. The sisters in my host families brought me tears on occasion. Was I disappointed? Had France suddenly become an ugly nightmare out of a beautiful dream? No. Every day I chose to walk to school instead of taking the bus so I could observe the rolling green countryside and breathe in the fresh air. I would take bike rides with my host parents on Saturday mornings, and the little villages we passed by looked like they had been taken from the books I had studied from back home. We would pass by ancient castles that had either been abandoned and were under the care, but sometimes not at all cared for, of the government, or they had been renovated by private owners. Either way I found these sights to be very magical, like out of a story book, a dream. I made amazing friends at school over the second semester, and have continued to keep in contact with them today. I asked for more help in the classes I had trouble following and to be realistic in the expectations I held for myself, and others. I learned to appreciate the perpetual tardiness of every French person to every place, meeting, appointment, or dinner. I learned that in come cultures, building relationships with anyone takes a long time. Above all, I learned that experience is the most important knowledge to understanding. I fully appreciate the beauty in something, one must first understand. I shed more tears on my way home from France than I did on my way there. France had become the most beautiful thing in my life. I had built solid relationship that made me feel happy. I learned to communicate with the French people, in their language, with their accent. I enjoyed French cuisine every day, three times a day or more, although I think it is nearly impossible to go to France, as a traveler or a tourist, and not appreciate the French cuisine. By the last few months of my exchange, I was able to climb out of my type A, rush, rush, rush, American mentality, and relax. This was beautiful. For once I could look at my surroundings and use all of my senses to appreciate the life around me. It was beautiful...timeless.
I developed a very dear friendship with a woman in France named Henriette. She was a bit older. In fact, she may have been forty years older than I. Her husband was a member of the exchange program that sponsored my visit. She lived in my village and I would go visit her occasionally. She was Italian of origin and had come to France during the Second World War, where she met her husband, who is French, and married. We would drink espresso in her gardens, she taught me how to make tiramisu and we would spend hours chatting about our lives. One thing I noticed about Henriette was how she still had an Italian accent when she spoke French. Her accent was an indicator of her background, which made her unique and I found this intriguing. Some of the adults involved with the exchange program I was visiting through had been giving me trouble about my American accent. They thought I should have lost it pretty quickly and when I hadn't, they couldn't understand. I had been a little upset that I did not pick up the French accent more quickly and was frustrated that I did not live up to the expectations of my hosts. Henriette didn't care what anyone else thought of her. She had been in France for forty years and still had her accent, and was proud. She was of Italian origin and people could tell, so what? I loved the coolness about her and realized that I did not have to fit into the "French mold" in order to be French, more or less. It was the things that made me different that made me special, and I know that might sound cliché and unoriginal, but when you're in a foreign country for an extended period of time, you want to fit in. It is not always in your best interest to carry an accent, but even though I continued to try and improve my accent, I did not force it. As much as I was a Francophile, I accepted the fact that I am American and didn't try to change that any more.
Beauty is not only skin deep. Beauty is everything; it is what surrounds us that makes us feel great. Beauty is individual. It is not what someone tells you it is. It is the way you feel, and how you make others feel. Don't get me wrong, beauty is also skin deep. I think beauty should be both aesthetically, mentally, and emotional pleasing. My experience in France taught me that the sadness in leaving my home country, and the joy in experiencing my new one, as well as the deep sadness I felt in leaving my new country were all beautiful. My experience moved me in ways that are really difficult to describe. I had grown, and had become the traveler I had wanted to be. I interacted with the pictures of the book. I developed relationships, I tasted, I saw, I immersed myself in what I loved and I found beauty. Henriette was beautiful. We keep in touch. Her talent and individualism and uniqueness are untouchable. The experience in France forever changed my outlook on life, who I am as an individual, and has taught me to slow down, appreciate, wrap your surrounds around you and enjoy, experience, live, find beauty.

Full Name:  Marissa Patterson
Username:  mpatters@brynmawr.edu
Title:  Sunsets
Date:  2005-01-26 10:38:35
Message Id:  12236
Paper Text:


Web Papers
On Serendip

who are you,little i

(five or six years old)
peering from some high

window;at the gold

of november sunset

(and feeling:that if day
has to become night

this is a beautiful way)(1)

Sunsets have always enchanted me. The way the sun starts to dip to the horizon, tawny amber and gold. When you speak of dying it is always in words like "fading away" or "wasting to nothingness," but the sun refuses to literally slip away in the night. The sun explodes into a veritable eruption of colors, each more vibrant than the one before. It begins deceptively simply, the glowing yellow of the first bouquet of spring daffodils. Next comes the burnished orange, the perfect tint of the coals of a fire burning brightly to warm you up after a day of playing in the snow. Moving on to rubicund cerise, your tongue and lips and teeth after your favorite cherry popsicle from the pool snack shop. The colors bleed onto the sky, as if the sun has melted like that popsicle, spreading over the clouds: rose pink, apricot, auburn. Then, almost imperceptibly the colors change, darken, cobalt, indigo, navy. Shapes fade as shadows replace detail and darkness creeps in. The first pinpricks of light begin to speckle the sky above you, tiny breaks in the formidable night that has somehow overtaken your sunset. Two, then three, and then suddenly the sky is filled with these infinitesimal diamonds, glittering despite the powerful darkness that surrounds them. And it has become night.

Some of my best childhood memories occurred sitting in my old living room on the couch, staring out through our sliding glass doors into the oncoming night. The sunset was the first thing I can remember as having the impact of being something beautiful to me. As e. e. cummings states in his poem above, I truly felt that if day must turn to night, bringing about an end to playing, a bath, and of course the dreaded bedtime, then of course it should be something amazing, worth capping off another incredible day.

Even as I grew (and in fact, still today) I look forward to the sunset. I don't quite understand my love, for I enjoy it for the fact that it constant and comes every night, as well as its ever-changing colors and timing. Most places I would travel, if the sky were clear there would be a sunset, the clouds would change color, the darkness would slowly creep in. Yet each night it is something new, different colors I strain to name, to identify. I always wished I could bottle up the sunset, save it in some way. Photographs never looked quite right, never captured the right mood, and as I was blessed with absolutely no artistic ability, my attempts at painting were abysmal failures.

And so I simply watched. Each new sunset experience was more beautiful than the others, each more perfect, and through my observations I developed a love for the beauty of stars as well, which seemed to pierce the night sky, breaking through the darkness.
It is not only the beauty of the day fading into darkness that I find beautiful. Being often of scientific persuasion, terms and concepts are ripe with beauty. For example, in reading for my biology class I came across the words "ciliated epithelium," a type of tissue found lining the nose and the fallopian tubes. Say it out loud, "ciliated epithelium," and the words trickle off your tongue, delighting your ears. The alliteration of the words tied with the newness of the concept sparked something in me, causing me to read on intently. Biology is beautiful to me, the way life processes occur. We don't even have to think to control it, but at this very moment our heart is beating and we are breathing in and out, and even deeper, our sinoatrial node is firing, causing our heart to beat and our lung cells are undergoing respiration, taking in oxygen. It amazes me that so many mechanisms in our body are able to work constantly, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and it is a rare occurrence that something goes noticeably wrong. It is in this seeming miracle of everyday normal functioning is extraordinarily beautiful to me. That cells of about twenty micrometers, smaller than the eye can see, can join together to make all five feet four inches of me is incredible! Each new concept I learn in biology just amazes me even more, from the way a plant cell can take in light and produce ATP to how my eye can take in light to produce a beautiful sunset.

Literature can be beautiful to me as well, reading creatively written words that touch my soul. One of my favorite books is The Five People You Meet in Heaven, by Mitch Albom, and at the close of the book it states "each affects the other and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories but the stories are all one. (2)" This book is about the interconnectedness of all people, how one person can irreversibly impact the life of another, even someone they do not know. This quote is beautiful because it sums up the story for me, but does not come right out and state what it means. The sense of confusion from the first words, each, other, add to the feeling one has while contemplating what it means. For me at least, it is overwhelming to understand exactly how my life affects others or to try and think if I have changed the life of someone I have not formally met. In this same way the words of the quote don't entirely make sense the first moment they are approached. It takes time to comprehend what the words mean, echoing the effort needed to understand how one person can influence the world.

As I think about the things that I believe are beautiful, the things that touch me, that effect me in ways it is hard to explain, I find myself drawn to a common theme. Many of the things I find beautiful are incomprehensible on some level. However, some of these things, when explained, become uglier, harsher, tainted.

The sunset, for example. I understand that it is colored because of the rotating of the earth, causing the sun to shine at a different angle through the atmosphere. However to me this description is not beautiful at all! I remember learning in a high school class about how higher levels of smog and pollution in the environment can cause more beautiful sunsets. This seems absurd to me, that something as pure and breathtaking as a sunset can be amplified by the same filthy substances that cause global warming. This new knowledge causes too much of a disunion between what I see and what I know. The pairing of something beautiful with its root cause, dirt and grime, is too much for me, and I am forced to forget, in a way, because looking at the sunset while thinking about the car exhaust that made it so beautiful ruins the experience, soils it so that all I can see it the filth and cannot see the beautiful colors.

It often is the same with literature. I love to read, and I love poetry. However, I took AP English at my high school and spent four years learning how to take a beautiful story and pick it apart, splitting it up and analyzing the diction, the tone, the imagery, in order to "fully understand" the piece. This attempt to try and break a poem up into little pieces to try to grasp what the author was trying to impart seems unreasonable to me. It is not what the author wants me to feel but what I actually feel that is important for a beautiful experience. If perhaps I read something and come away from it with a sense of loss, but then realize that the diction actually suggests that it is about love, this change of understanding completely undermines my initial reaction. To have to take a poem that I thought was beautiful reading it on its own and to try to pick it apart and find a deeper or truer meaning than the one I grasped was nearly painful sometimes. When I had a choice it was almost easier to choose a poem I didn't like as much, just so that I wouldn't have to destroy its beauty with my analysis.

Yet in the reverse, the beauty I find in biology is enhanced by my understanding. While I might look at a heart or a lung or a brain and find beauty in the organs themselves, it is more the processes that occur within these organs that amaze me. The intricate ways that functions occur I can only comprehend after learning about it. My experience is enhanced by my increasing conceptual knowledge. If I do not know about how the body carries oxygen in small red blood cells to the whole body, how could I find it beautiful?

I suppose that as I continue in my college experience I will learn about things that increase my concept of beauty, and yet I will also make realizations that perhaps make something I once thought was beautiful seem a bit more repulsive. I understand that it is inevitable that over time my perceptions of what is beautiful will change. Certain objects will no longer seem as attractive, and I will gain the appreciation of new and more beautiful creations. I do hope that in all of these replacements I will never lose my sunsets.

1. Cummings, E.E. Selected Poems .New York: Liveright Publishing Company. 1994.
2. Albom, Mitch. The Five People You Meet in Heaven. New York: Hyperion Publishing. 2003. 196.

Full Name:  Eugenia Chan (eebs)
Username:  elchan@brynmawr.edu
Title:  A Beautiful Memory
Date:  2005-01-26 15:20:56
Message Id:  12238
Paper Text:


Web Papers
On Serendip

There was nothing special about my clique in high school, well, apart from the fact that it didn't have a label. We weren't the jocks, or the geeks. We were everything. Everything.

All through senior year, at 7:50am everyday, the usual faces of my so-called clique invaded the senior couches. On the single "big daddy" couch, there was Steven- The Computer Game Addict, and to the right of him, sitting on the arm of "big daddy" was Barb- The Drama Queen. On the three-seater, there was always five people: Rachel- The Emo Kid, Ru-Xin- The Kid Who Skipped a Grade, Christiana- The Hardcore Journalist, Nick- The Guy Who Had More Girl Friends Than Guy Pals, Elaine- The Girl Who Got a 4-Year Scholarship, and Roohi-The Fashion Addict. On the love seat, there was Mike- Star Athlete, and Jason- The Musician, and Eugarry- (the term used by the entire school to describe me and my then boyfriend, Lawrence/Larry). Of course, when Eugarry ever separated, it was Larry- The Jock/Artist, and Eugenia/Eebs- The Community Service Junkie. Hunter was also part of the group, he never sat around; he was always busy running to some meeting or another: Hunter- The Class President THIS was our clique of thirteen very different individuals. But for one reason or another, we all had one common interest- Archie Comics.

The most beautiful thing about my clique is that we were reminiscent of the Riverdale gang from Archie Comics. As surreal as it may be, everyday of our lives was filled with the laughs, the horrors, the embarrassments- moments so similar to those of the characters in the comic strip. One of most beautiful experiences I have ever encountered tells a story very similar to the Riverdale gang's- my experience of beauty was during our graduation trip.

By the end of the first semester our senior year, the entire group, had the worst case of senioritis possible. So instead of studying all through winter break, we spent the two weeks planning the perfect graduation trip- a week at Phuket, Thailand. The sun, the beach, the seafood, all parent-free! With Phuket in our minds, there was little room for studying, let alone much else.

Everyone imagined the trip to be perfect, and by perfect, I mean perfection at its greatest. I still have pictures of our group sitting around our version of Pop Tate's imagining all the wonderful things Thailand had to offer us. Given a chance of a week at paradise, we had water skiing, scuba diving, hang gliding, boogey boarding... everything planned and organized to do it all. We anticipated the best (insert profanity here) trip of our lives.

Like most stories from Archie Comics, things did not go quite as planned; for the most part, the entire week wasn't exactly perfect. The cheapest flight out of Shanghai to Phuket was at midnight, and of course it got delayed. The seven girls on the trip (myself included) whined and complained for the entire three-hours of waiting for the plane, only to get on the plane and complain again about not being able to sleep. Needless to say, that flight was THE most horrific experience for the five guys who just nodded their heads and sighed, "pms" under their breaths.

.. and it rained when we arrived. Apparently we had booked the trip at the worst time possible. Apparently, it was typhoon season.

Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately, the entire gang decided that they weren't going to let their $100 flight go to waste. The very next day, the thirteen of us spent good 12-hours of the beach sans sunscreen thinking that UV rays could not penetrate through the clouds and occasional rain. It still amazes me how everyone seemed to forget that Thailand is located smack between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator and that the sun would still be intense. We all walked out of our bungalows the next morning looking anything but beautiful- everyone was sun burnt and everyone had some strange shape of 'un burnt' skin on themselves. Everyone looked like a "crime scene" in a way: Roohi had white areas around their eyes. The cause? A pair of shades. (For her this was a total fashion disaster). Mike and Jason both had an untanned "U" area on their faces. Visor. Steven had a tan shaped like a flared jean leg on the middle of his chest. That's what happens when you sleep with your shirt unbuttoned. And the rest of the group had the ugliest, nastiest case of heat rashes from neck down. It was one of those horrifying experiences you read in comic books and laugh about, but never expect in real life. Well, it happened. It felt like one of those stories trying to teach you a lesson. Our lesson: Always wear sunscreen.

The next couple of days rained. We all looked at the bright side and thought of it as a chance to rub aloe vera all over each other, heal, and binge on cheap Thai cuisines. It wasn't that bad. In fact, it also gave us a chance to hang out right before everyone left for college. That's one of the harder things about life in Shanghai.

Going to an international school in Shanghai isn't all that great. The hardest part about Shanghai was watching people come and go as their parents' contracts for Company X ended and moved elsewhere. Because of the ever-changing economic situation in Shanghai, Shanghai is never "home" to anyone. Sure, you could live there for 10 years like me and call it the "closest thing to home", but you never know where you will go next. After high school, 'going home for break' didn't necessarily compute to 'going back to Shanghai' for everyone. That week in Thailand is all we had left of each other.

Now this whole concept of separation doesn't exist in the world of Archie Comics; they have been in high school since 1941 and they will probably stay there forever. We realized that for us, never again would all thirteen of us ever be together, not here, not in Shanghai. Not anywhere. I think that one thought made me change the way I perceived my graduation trip- no, it wasn't perfect (in addition to the bad tan lines and heat rashes, we all caught a cold) but we were together. We were happy.

The last day in Thailand was the hardest to deal with. For the entire day, we all just sat along the beach (with sunscreen, of course) talking about our movie-nights, lunch table jokes, study groups, and every other memory of the "us". As the sun started to set on our last day in Thailand, Christiana (Hardcore Journalist and Photographer) took a picture of the group sitting on the beach watching the sunset, and named us, the "Thailand Crew". We finally had a name.

I still keep that picture of all of us sitting at the beach; I keep it with the rest of the pictures of the Thailand Crew. The trip wasn't perfect obviously; we didn't get to do half the things we planned out to do. But it still brings a smile to my face whenever I think about the hideous tan lines, or whenever I look back at my photo album during my procrastination pangs every now and then. The memories of my friends and my experience with them remain picturesque and beautiful, not quite like a landscape painting, but like every page of Archie Comics where the aura of a strong friendship is unavoidable.

Now, I can't exactly put into words the mixture of feelings the picture of the Thailand Crew evokes... I don't think anyone can. I think beautiful experiences and memories like that are best left for the artists' to express.

As Bryan Adams sings:

"...You told me it would last forever
Oh the way you held my hand
I knew that it was now or never
Those were the best days of my life
Back in the summer of '69"

Though it doesn't have the same ring to it, for me, it was back in the summer of '04.

WWW Sources

Photographed by Christiana Lilly.

Works Cited
Adams, Bryan 'Summer of '69' from album "Reckless". 1984

Full Name:  Alice Kaufman
Username:  ajkaufma@brynmawr.edu
Title:  My Secret "Circus of Dr. Lao" Philosophy
Date:  2005-01-26 15:21:12
Message Id:  12239
Paper Text:
<mytitle> Beauty Web Papers On Serendip

Beauty is the transcendent realization that the universe is amazing and being alive is extraordinary. It can exist in an idea, an experience, a thing or a sense. I seem to focus on the assuring and personal and impersonal puzzles that I then make personal. The biggest theme I found was that all of these things make my world seem to expand in an exhilarating way.

The Richard Thompson song Beeswing is beautiful. Thompson's singing voice is smooth and low, the guitar is delicate, and the lyrics are insightful. My mother introduced me to the singer, songwriter, and song a few months ago. She loves it, because it speaks to her, I suppose. It is beautiful to hear because not only is it a lovely noise, which would be enough, but because it makes me understand why my mother could not stay married to my father. Their divorce was painful at the time, but relatively very dramatic, and life goes on. I grew older, and gradually saw things in both of my parents that are ugly. But the song Beeswings shows my mother's perspective on independence, even if it causes pain. So I can empathize with my mother, and sympathize with my father, because life is complicated, I will never truly know my parents' story, and ultimately, that is alright. And the song makes me feel this way, and is therefore beautiful.

My friends at school are beautiful. When I am with them, I feel like I am loved unconditionally as myself. They each have very good stories to tell about their lives and families. Their stories give me perspective, and their laughter gives me strength. It sounds absurdly girlish, but I can brush my friends' hair for an hour without getting tired. There is a soothing rhythm to the pull of the brush, the smooth strands of hair, and the over and under motion of one hand and the brush. I can love these people; they have flaws, but their flaws are lovable as well. These are people I can lie on top of an open sleeping bag and under many blankets with, four abreast, late at night watching X-Files, trying to stay warm in a freezing dorm room. Feeling other people I care about on either side of me through flannel is so soothing. I feel like the world may be confusing, and I may be ignorant of many, many things, but there is a place for me in it.

The most beautiful place I have ever experienced is on my family's farm in central Kansas, at dusk in the spring and early summer. The sky is huge, and often a portion is dark red. Sometimes it is a soft purple, tinged with orange. There are countless intense color patterns, but all of them are big. The sky is not just above you, it is to every side of you, like an IMAX movie, but in 180 degrees. And beneath it, in spring, is green wheat that blows in the wind. The wheat looks like long, uniform grass blades, with one side a bluish green, and the other a more silvered sage color. And the wind blows, and the ground is tickled in waves to show its lighter color. One side of the sky is still deep blue, made even bluer by the other colors in the sky. There are rarely clouds, but when there are, the clouds are not fluffy and white cotton balls; they are tinted with the colors of the rest of the sky, and on the rest of the sky's scale. They look like the paint and texture of cathedral walls. In early summer, the ground is mainly a burnt golden color, with the wheat husks grown and dried. The wind still blows, but the ripples in the color are dark now, a deeper burn nearly brown when the wheat stalk bends towards you. There are a few trees, not very many and not very big, whose leaves and spindly branches are outlined by the low sun, and made black. My father is there, probably dusty and probably quiet, which I've finally gotten used to. My brother is there as well, whom I squint and grin at.

But there is something to be said for small places, too. My favorite place on another person's body is the place where the neck meets the shoulder. My nose and mouth can rest there, feel the warmth from skin, and smell and press into the person, and no longer feel like I'm just myself and alone. Maybe this feels beautiful because we are most often alone, or maybe we can never be with another person in a way that isn't tempered by bodies or even language. But this spot is beautiful because it makes me think that it isn't necessarily true; there are so many realms of experience that I do not know (many of which I simply never will) that it seems possible to be connected to something outside of myself. It is almost an emotional argument for a higher power—connection is so important, surely I'm linked up with something great.

Some things are beautiful because their complexity seems to offer a small example of the complexity of greater world. The miniseries 'I, Claudius' is beautiful to me not just because I saw it with my roommate whom I cherish, and not just because it is vastly entertaining to me in a melodramatic way. The series has a story spanning generations, more imperial intrigue than anyone could ask for, with tied up family trees, betrayal, and slowly evolving political spheres. The fact that all of this mad soap opera keeps all of these characters and each of these plot points straight is what I find particularly beautiful about it. There is no order in the story save the passage of time and character's motivations, and yet there is a logical, understandable flow to it, and with my help, it all makes perfect sense. I am happy to be able to see it, and feel lucky that I can listen to such a fantastic story.

Certain texts are also beautiful to me because of their complexity. The most recently read example I can think of is Lt. Gustl, by Arthur Schnitzler. It is a stream of conscious novella about an Austrian officer. Since it is written solely from the perspective of the protagonist, the reader can quickly note that he is defined by the military, social conventions, and animal instinct. It takes critical reading, however, to understand that he is a frightened, empty, soulless man full of Freudian hang-ups before Freud even wrote about them. The character has so many things inside of him, in his thoughts and Schnitzler's construction of him, that I know I will never understand everything about him. Another example is Nabokov's Pale Fire, both one of the saddest, most complexly written, and undeniably funny books I've ever read. The story takes the form of an epic poem written by one man, now deceased, and long and involved annotation of the poem by another. Thus there is the plot of the poem, the story the poem's editor shares, and ultimately the story of what actually happened in the events surrounding the poem's creation. Not only are all of the plots compelling and written with distinct and likeable voices, the entire concept was just mind boggling to me. Both texts have an insight into humanity, which follows my criteria for beauty as revealing the strange nature of my world.

My world is shown to be physically strange through the beauty of randomness in modern physics. Certain events, like radioactive decay, cannot be predicted by any models we currently have, and many physicists believe that even with infinitely powerful computers and models that can take in all of the variables that could influence it, we still won't be able to predict when a little electromagnetic wave will come flying out of a particular radioactive atom. This is so exciting; even though we try to order our world, there might not be any order at a very small event—the nature of the universe just may be a little kooky and irrational. It may sound depressing, I suppose, that some underlying forces of the universe might not be guided by anything, but it's such a testament to our reality that we can create order. There's always the possibility that there are hidden variables that make the timing of these seemingly random occurrences make sense. But what a reality altering thought if there isn't. It is a metaphysical kick in the pants, forcing me to think about accepting new truths.

In the same way, the very simple math proof 1=.9 (repeating) is beautiful. It takes little to show. A decimal number said to be repeating simply continues on into infinity, never becoming the next number in a higher place value, but continuing to grow in infinitely smaller quantities. We can easily accept that 1/3=.3 (repeating), and 2/3=.6 (repeating). We can also accept that 1/3+2/3=1, and .3 (repeating) + .6 (repeating) = .9 repeating. But if we substitute the fractions with decimals, as we already agreed that we can do, we get .9 (repeating) = 1. Of course, if one wrote out .9999999999999999999999... one can see that it is practically equal to 1. But by the definition of the repeating number, it is not one. And yet we have shown that it is. A higher math student may find a flaw in my rudimentary proof, and some would argue that .3 (repeating) is merely an approximation of 1/3, but it doesn't matter. Math has many such proofs, and is able to loop back in on itself and show a guaranteed falsity to also be a guaranteed truth. Something that is not is. And this paradox, in math or life, is sublime and beautiful.

It is possible to feel that the world is incredible and strange simply by concentrating on the idea. Beautiful things, however, make me feel this way without any effort.

Full Name:  Lauren Sweeney
Username:  lksweene@brynmawr.edu
Title:  Experiencing Beauty
Date:  2005-01-26 15:39:08
Message Id:  12240
Paper Text:
Lauren Sweeney January 26, 2005
Beauty: Chemistry and Culture/Professors Dalke and Burgmayer
Experiencing Beauty
"Tell me where is fancy bred,
In the heart or in the head?"
--The Merchant of Venice
When I first began considering topics for this paper, I instantly thought of my family. As the daughter of two artists, the concept of aesthetic beauty has long played a significant part in my thought processes. On the first day of class I wrote that I didn't believe in doing anything unless I found some part of it beautiful. I had never thought this before that moment, and it even still sounds a bit strange to me, but the more that I've considered it, the more I realize I honestly believe it to be true.
I feel growing up in a house practically wall-papered in oil paintings and pastels definately had a significant impact on the way that I view the world. To my parents, beauty is an essential part of life; they have devoted their lives to creating beautiful things. They have taught me that beauty is more than just skin-deep, but that there is something to be said for the power that beauty has in our lives. The fact that they have been able to support our family by essentially selling beauty proves to me that beauty has some degree of substance and validity.
Many people might think of aesthetic beauty as a frivolous concern. "Beauty school" is not something that many people think of as a practical application of one's time. "Beauty magazines" such as Cosmopolitan or Marie Claire are often written off as trashy and unfit to be read. While I do not entirely disagree, I feel that this proves a point about how our society thinks of beauty. For the most part, I feel that people do not give beauty enough credit. My parents have taught me to value and to have respect for things that are beautiful, but I do not think that the majority of the population shares this opinion. In my experience, most people subscribe to the theory that allowing beauty to determine how we think or feel about something is being shallow. I cannot help but disagree. There really is something to be said about how beautiful something is, and how it affects your attitude towards it is not necessarily a display of shallowness.
I know the old adage that "you can't judge a book by its cover," but I will openly admit to doing just that. I know that as an English major this is probably one of the worst things I could say, but this is just another example of how I feel I must justify all of my actions by identifying something beautiful about them. This is not to say that I will only read books with beautiful covers, but given the choice between two editions of the same book, one with a cover that I find ugly and one that I find beautiful, I will undoubtedly choose the more aesthetically pleasing of the two. I can cite specific experiences in libraries and bookstores when I was not satisfied with the appearance of a particular book and then going out of my way to find a prettier version of the same story. I suppose that the reason I do this is because I am more likely to want to pickup, touch, hold, something that I find beautiful rather than something that is falling apart, smells weird, or has a disturbing image on the cover.
I do not only apply this theory to books, but I feel that this particular example perfectly illustrates my point about how seriously I take beauty. The cover of a book does not necessarily have any bearing over my opinion of what it contains after I have read it, but I know for a fact that I am more likely to want to read a pretty book in the first place. In this sense, the physical beauty of the book is a galvanizing force in starting the book, but once the book is finished, I am able to form an opinion completely independent of my opinion of the cover. Also, if I find that I absolutely despise the story which the book contains, I can justify getting the book by saying to myself, "Oh, well. At least the cover is pretty to look at." As long as I am able to reap some pleasure from the experience, I do not feel that the experience was a waste.
In addition to the precepts laid out for me by my parents, I feel that the importance that I place on beauty has been influenced by the fifteen years I have spent in ballet classes. With ballet, as with all art, beauty is the ultimate goal. For a ballet dancer, how everything looks is of the upmost importance. We are told that even if the technique is perfect, if every body part is in the correct place, if the musical timing is impeccable, if the dancing isn't pleasant to look at, if it isn't beautiful, then it doesn't matter. That is the reason why there is so much competition among dancers, and why there are so many who abuse themselves in an attempt at perfection. There is a specific "ideal" body type for ballet dancers, and those whose feet are too flat, whose torsos are too long, whose shoulders are too wide, simply do not look "as beautiful" as those who fit the aesthetic ideal. While I do not agree with the dramatic practices to make oneself "perfect" I feel that I can understand why these practices are so widespread among dancers. If beauty is the ultimate goal, and a dancer's body is the means by which that beauty is created, it becomes tempting, (and for many necessary,) to do whatever it takes to become "perfectly beautiful."
Granted, the balletic "ideal" of beauty is a social construction with which many disagree, but it creates an interesing point about the subjectivity of beauty. Dancers learn to see things as they are taught and for the most part share a collective vision of what type of body is "most beautiful." They come to respect feet with hich arches, long limbs and short torsos, and often feel very strongly about these convictions. I know of one dancer who admitted that she could never marry a man with flat feet. Though I found this funny at first, I have thought about it considerably and realized that I do make a point of noticing men's feet and know that I openly compliment and express envy of friends with beautifully high arches. I don't think the shape of someone's feet would effect the state of our relationship, but it is something of which I take note.
The fact that I know being a ballet dancer has seriously influenced certain aspects of my perception helps me to realize the other ways in which I respond to outside forces which tell me what is beautiful. My perception of my mother is another example of this phenomenon. I have always been told that I look like my mother, but when I was younger I figured that was just something that people say. I never thought anything of it, and I certainly didn't agree. She was a grown woman, and I was a little girl. How could we possibly look alike? As I grew older, my girlfriends would tell me that my mother was beautiful. This was another concept which I had trouble grasping. "She can't be beautiful," I thought to myself. "She's my mom. I've looked at her face everyday of my life. If she was beautiful, don't you think that I would have noticed by now?" I thought that my friends were just being nice.
It wasn't until after years of consideration that I actually came to see that my friends were being genuine. I remember the exact moment in eighth grade when one of the boys in my class said to me "Your mom's hot." As horrified as I was, I realized that he must be telling the truth. Boys don't say things like that about your mom just to be nice. It was only then that I came to see her not as "my mom" but as a beautiful woman. At this very moment I'm looking at a picture of her and wonder how I ever could have thought otherwise. I see now why my grandmother thinks my mom looks like Audrey Hepburn and why my aunt said her nickname was "Sophia Loren." My friends still tell me that my mom is beautiful after they meet her, and I openly agree with them. And now when people tell me that I look like my mom, I still don't entirely believe them, but I take this as a sincere compliment.
My shifted perception of my mother proves another important point that beauty cannot always be based on a first impression. I remember reading a fairytale in gradeschool about two girls, one who was conventionally beautiful but mean, and the other who was very plain-looking but sincere and kind-hearted. By the end of the story, (and I'm pretty sure that this was the point,) the mean pretty girl didn't seem so pretty to me, and the other girl, though still plain, became more pleasant to look at. I don't think that I ever believed that just because someone was beautiful it meant that they were nice, but the idea that something that I could come to appreciate something as beautiful because of non-visual aspects is something that I whole-heartedly believe. In last Thursday's class, when people shared what they found beautiful, I realized that I was doing this a lot. Several people procured objects that I might not call beautiful strictly based upon their physical appearance, but after hearing why the individuals called the objects beautiful, I could better understand why they could be considered beautiful.
Though this view of beauty seems to be in direct disagreement with the writings of Dewey, Percy and Elkins, I cannot help but wonder if there isn't some theory which lies between these two extremes. I have a hard time believing that something can be considered beautiful without any prior knowledge of it. When I studied music in highschool, we learned that different intervals of notes sound "more beautiful" to people of different cultures. This cannot be because people in Asia leave the womb with a different idea of what sounds beautiful from people in Europe or Africa.; it is something which is socially constructed. Music composed in different areas in the world sounds different as a result of centuries of cultural tradition. The perception of beauty is not intrinsic, but learned. Though the three theorists argue that too much learning can ruin how one experiences beauty, I believe that it is impossible to determine whether or not something is beautiful without knowing anything about it.
I know that the perception of beauty is entirely subjective, but I also know that I find certain things (people, events, objects) beautiful because of what I have been told about them. I know that I would not have cried at the Pennsylvania Ballet's production of The Sleeping Beauty if I had no prior knowledge or appreciation of the spectacle. If I didn't know the story, if the music didn't have such a nostalgic effect on me, if I didn't realize how much effort goes into each dance, I would have most likely fallen asleep (as my mom did.) Being able to recognize beauty requires a certain amount of knowledge, but I agree that too much knowledge can ruin the experience. Returning to my ballet school to watch a recital after a year away at college, I didn't enjoy the performance and wasn't moved by it in the same way that I was by the Pennsylvania Ballet's Sleeping Beauty. I was constantly thinking to myself "oh, I know that Courtney isn't good at jumps" or "Daniella missed her cue in that last piece." Because I knew the girls, I knew their strengths and weaknesses, I knew what to expect of the choreography, I couldn't find the performance beautiful because I was too busy finding the faults. After writing this paper, I have come to the conclusion that a beautiful experience comes as the result of a perception of what is good about a certain thing while being willingly blind to what is unpleasant about it, but one requires a certain amount of knowledge about the subject at hand in order to be able to tell the difference.

Full Name:  Meera Jain
Username:  mjain@brynmawr.edu
Title:  Refreshing
Date:  2005-01-26 15:41:46
Message Id:  12241
Paper Text:

Zaha Hadid. As the only women to receive the most illustrious award in architecture, her style embodies difference and individuality. Zaha Hadid was born in Iraq and educated herself in London and the United States. On May 31st 2004 she was awarded the Pritzker Prize for architecture, equivalent of the Nobel. Her mind reverberates with refreshing imagination and immaculate taste that can be seen in her designs, and I am drawn to her work.

Her architecture comes away from tradition, experiencing them once, is enough to paint a vivid picture for a lifetime. I find her architecture beautiful because they are not simple; I am drawn to complexity. It takes patience and insight to understand what she created and how it was done. This is beauty. I am intrigued by natural beauty, like a flower or sunrise, but Hadid combined natural and manmade elements into a functional workplace with personality and uniqueness. She gives her viewer the opportunity to really question the notion of beauty in her work.

John Dewey succinctly explained this, "in order to understand the esthetic meaning of artistic products, we have to forget them for a time, to turn aside from them and have recourse to the ordinary forces and conditions of experience that we don't usually regard as aesthetic." Zaha Hadid's abstraction forced me to step away from the esthetic value and delve deeper find out something about the forces behind her design.

When I first saw the Bergisel Ski Jump, Austria in Architectural Digest, it took me a moment to understand, because it was so abstract. The ski jump reminds me of water slide with a control tower attached; and it is lit with iridescent pink lights. On first glance, you would have no clue as to what purpose it serves, which makes the knowledge behind it an experience. Furthermore, it was clear that I was having an esthetic incident that Dewey describes, "it has esthetic standing...as the work becomes an experience" Hadid has a strangely beautiful way of using science, technology and space to transform common places such as a train terminal in Naples, Italy into a futuristic hub of travel.

My past experiences made Zaha Hadid's masterpieces stand out in my mind; I was a young seventh grader with a fascination for art, pop music and junk food. Fortunately, these interests led me in the right direction, to one of my now favorite architects.

We were living in Hong Kong at the Repulse Bay, which used to be a luxurious hotel and was converted to an expatriate apartment building. This apartment building can be seen in many tourist books and magazines for it's religious symbolism and distinctive design. It has a large rectangle in the center, so the "dragon" living on the hill behind can cross through the building to the ocean and blesses it while passing through. Living in such a famous place, I was intrigued by the beauty of my home and picked up my first copy of Architectural Digest to find out more. The magazine encompasses exceptional architectural renovations, interior design, and antique/estate homes. In that magazine, on a balmy fall day looking out to the Repulse Bay I glimpsed at Zaha Hadid's work.

After living in such an exclusive and beautiful building, I searched for other architects who created buildings with a story behind it. Another one of my favorite buildings by Hadid is the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati because of the vivification described, "It will be linked with street-level life through an "urban carpet" that ascends into a series of galleries and support-spaces. These will be connected by an active, switchback vertical spine, combining ramps and stairs. Degrees of transparency, translucency, and opacity provide internal and external vistas to help overcome a restricted site in keeping with the revitalized mission of the CAC."

The building is made of concrete and bright blue glass, which to me made the gray city block more physically appealing. The exterior surface has different rectangles appearing to be suspended in air and there is one large rectangle of a darker color that stands out and Hadid captures the viewer.

Reviewing Hadid's architecture on my laptop with a classical Indian soundtrack playing in the background made my newer experience richer than I could imagine. I have yet to visit one of her buildings, but I undergo a more refreshing visit than others might have. Hadid has a conscious idea which Dewey supports, "it is proof that man uses materials and energies of nature with intent to expand his own life...and its intervention also leads in time to the idea of art as a conscious idea- the greatest intellectual achievement in the history of humanity."

Hadid is idiosyncratic; she doesn't need her art in a famous city to have it appreciated. Another difference is that Hadid creates buildings that can be functionally used such as a warehouse, car park terminal or opera house so it becomes part of our daily life. Furthermore, I feel and see the common day beauty in them; it is unlike viewing an Edward Degas in a museum for the sole purpose of viewing. Hadid instead amalgamates usefulness and picturesque in her work. She is an internationally acclaimed architect; I treasure her work more because she constructs most of her buildings in Europe. Therefore if I were to visit Europe, the experience of seeing them would enhance my perspicacity for her architecture.

Zaha Hadid's first project was the Vitra Fire Station; it is a small structure and was constructed as a working firehouse. Eventually, the complex was declared obsolete and now is a showplace for a permanent collection of chairs. Within the building there are many optical tricks and Hadid's interplay of angles and color ensures the building's interior is visually interesting without making it boring. One specific connection is to le Corbusier's Notre Dame du Haut where Hadid seems to display the front end of a large ship, with its sharp end and overstated height.

The experience of beauty, for myself, is Hadid's flawlessness. I admire the idea of never seeing a copy of her building in someone's living room, not being able to buy a small replica of them in a souvenir shop, visiting rare locations to view them while being enveloped by her imagination and that no other artist could elicit these emotions I get when seeing her architecture. The experience is contingent on the veracity and poignancy of Zaha Hadid work. Although I wont be experiencing beauty the way Percy describes it, by "leaving the beaten path...and finding an unspoiled place undiscovered by others" I am sure I will still enjoy the Bergisel Ski Jump in Austria while sitting atop drinking hot chocolate.

Despite the typical beauty qualities an object might have to be considered beautiful, the experience is what seems to be more imperative. I believe that sitting on that balcony in Hong Kong made me appreciate her work more; the experience I was savoring let me see below the surface. Within the snapshots and recounted magazine articles, I found the electrifying aspect of her masterpieces. "True beauty dwells in deep retreats" by Williams Wordsworth, recapitulates my beautiful experience with the buildings of Zaha Hadid.

Repusle Bay Apartment, Hong Kong
The view from the balcony taken from (www.therepulsebay.com)

Repulse Bay Apartments, Hong Kong
The front of the building. The large rectangle in the center made the building famous.

For more images -(http://www.pritzkerprize.com/2004/mediakit.htm#projectlist)

The Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, Cincinnati

Innsbruck Bergisel Ski Jump, Innsbruck, Austria

Vitra Fire Station, Weil am Rhein, Germany

Full Name:  Alice Stead
Username:  astead@brynmawr.edu
Title:  Beautiful Photographs
Date:  2005-01-26 15:45:42
Message Id:  12242
Paper Text:


Web Papers
On Serendip

Today, as I was procrastinating, trying to figure out what experience of beauty I wanted to write about, I thumbed through my calendar. I went through the pages, writing in important dates, when I realized that the calendar was actually a representation of a very significant experience of beauty for me.

The reason for this is because this is not an everyday calendar that you could find in a store; this is a calendar my grandma had put together for myself and my family for Christmas. It was a sort of memorandum to my grandfather, who passed away this September. He was always very adamant about getting the family together, and took pride in how close our family is. The pictures in this calendar are a representation of his success in maintaining such a close, loving family, despite whatever differences we might have. I think the beautiful thing about one's relationship with their grandparents is that they spoil you, and I don't mean in a materialistic way. I think it means that with grandparents you get to just enjoy being around them without having the difficulty of arguing over selling their house or getting proper medical care. That is the responsibility our parents take on, but we don't have to. Someday we will do this for our own parents, but until then we get to just enjoy our grandparents, and be young. Because of this, I think one's relationship with their grandparents, at least in my case, is different from any other relationship they will ever have.

My grandpa did not want a memorial service when he passed away, so this calendar was my grandma's way of giving him a small tribute. And the pictures in it are beautiful to me. Some are very old, and some are fairly recent. The part that I find so beautiful, and yet somehow bittersweet, is that they are all pictures of my grandfather when he was healthy and smiling. Another aspect I find beautiful is a pictures' ability to make me remember details about how I felt that day, like how hot the day was, or what the kitchen smelled like that day.

The front cover is a single picture of my grandfather; he has pure white hair, glasses, a plaid shirt which he probably wore while he drove his tractor around his lawn (with no purpose, he just liked the tractor), and a double chin. We must have been shucking corn because he has taken the "stringy stuff" you find on the inside and draped some over his ears and some over his upper lip to make a mustache. This is a fairly typical picture of my grandpa; he was always a ham for the camera.

January contains some pictures of my family and my grandparents, and yet another one of my grandfather with a makeshift mustache. This time he has an antler headband for a mustache. February is one of my favorite months. They are black and white photographs of my mom and my uncles when they were kids. There are pictures of my grandpa pushing my mom and uncle around in a wheelbarrow, family portraits from when my mom was about eight, and once again my grandpa driving around the tractor, this time toting around my mom and uncle around in a cart behind it. They are pictures of a happy family; their smiles are beautiful.

March is pictures of "the boys," meaning my grandpa, my Uncle Bruce, and Uncle David. In one they sit on my grandparents' back steps, one they are standing overlooking their back lawn, one is of my grandpa standing next to his new Saab and his old Saab. He had this strange affection for Saabs and he always felt the need to take cars apart and put them back together, with the help of my uncles. This didn't stop with cars; he loved to do odd jobs around the house; he was an engineer, so fixing and building things is what he loved to do. He firmly believed that apoxy could fix anything.

April makes me laugh. My grandpa was famous for his naps; he could fall asleep anywhere, whether for ten minutes or for an hour. April is the month of naps. In one photo, he is lying down on some rocks on a sunny day; it looks like one of those perfect naps where he has found a comfortable nook, and the sun covers you with warmth like a blanket. This must have been ten or fifteen years ago, because he looks much younger. Then there is a nap on a hot summer day in Colonial Williamsburg after a long day of walking. This time my brother joined him; they are at either end of the bench, fast asleep. In the last one, my grandfather sits in a chair, holding me when I was a baby; my mom plays with me as I sit on his lap and he naps.

May is full of tractors; one eerily similar to an earlier photograph, with my grandpa toting my brother, cousin, and I in the tractor around the yard. Next, my grandpa stands next to me as I learn how to drive the tractor; it took some convincing to let me on it. He was a bit old fashioned at times, and didn't think that girls should drive the tractor, but I convinced him.

June: black and white photographs of him when he was younger. Two are handsome pictures of him in his naval uniform; one is a portrait of him in his whites, and the other of him in his casual uniform on the street. He must have been in his early twenties then; the other pictures must have been taken in his late twenties or early thirties, after he got out of the navy. July: pictures of summer. Two pictures are probably from the sixties, when my mom and uncles were young. They are on vacation somewhere, on a lake. My mom is holding an oar, maybe to a canoe; my uncle is holding binoculars. My grandfather is barefoot; he looks relaxed. There are three other pictures. One was taken in Colonial Williamsburg again; I am helping my grandpa walk on stilts; he looks like he is laughing. The last two are yet another attempt at a mustache; this time he uses devil's change purses from Nantucket. August: more summer pictures. One of my grandpa and his brother in Seattle. One of my grandpa, uncle, brother, and cousin getting the tractor out of the lower part of the garage. One of him teaching me how to fish on a lake in Maine. One of him in his hat he wore when he was working outside on a hot day.

September is the month that makes me both happy and sad. There are only two pictures on the page, and I think they are probably the most beautiful pictures in the entire calendar. The first is a picture of my grandparents on their wedding day. They each have enormous smiles across their faces. My grandpa has a simple suit on and a small flower pinned to his lapel. My grandma has a plain skirt, a short, double breasted jacket with a larger flower pinned to it, white gloves, a black hat on her perfectly coifed hair, and three short strands of pearls; she is simple but elegant. They are a beautiful couple. The second picture is another picture of them on their fiftieth wedding anniversary. My grandpa wears a plaid shirt with a small yellow rose pinned to it. My grandma wears a simple floral dress with a larger yellow rose pinned to her dress. They were very devoted to each other; inseparable in fact. I do not know two people who were more in love with each other than my grandparents; this, too, I find beautiful.

In October, there are pictures of my grandpa working in his workshop in the basement. They progress from about the sixties to the mid nineties. That was his version of playing. He would build picture frames for the needle points my grandma made, or fix a part for his car. It didn't really matter what he did there, as long as he was there he was happy. November is pictures of my cousins with my grandparents. Some when my cousins were younger, some when they were all in their teens, sitting around my grandma's kitchen table for dinner. December is pictures of Christmas time both at their home and from when they came to visit us when we lived in California.

There are two pictures at the end. The first was taken in 1942; it is a picture of a basketball team. The men in the front sit with black jackets and black shorts; the men standing behind them have white jerseys on. There is a basketball in the front and a trophy. My grandpa sits third from the right; it is another picture from when he was probably in his mid twenties. It is a somewhat haunting image; it makes me wonder who the rest of the men are and where they are now. Pictures have an amazing ability to freeze time, and I feel like this picture takes me back to 1942.

The last picture was taken probably eight years ago, when I loved berets. My grandpa has put on my white beret and put on what I assume must be his "French" face, which just looks like a grumpy face. He is in a plaid shirt, once again, and is standing next to our rental car. He has drawn in the dust on the window a picture of a man peering over a wall with a big nose and whiskers. Once again, my grandpa is a ham for the camera.

Some of these pictures make me laugh out loud, some make me cry. I remember reflecting after my grandpa died about what my grandparents had given me. My dad's father shared with me his thirst with knowledge, and my mom's parents gave me the warmth in my life. So my beautiful experience is about this calendar, but more precisely about the memories associated with the pictures inside. They represent my childhood and my family history, and to me, that is beautiful.

Full Name:  Shepherd Flora
Username:  fshepher@brynmawr.edu
Title:  Beauty in Categories
Date:  2005-01-26 15:58:14
Message Id:  12244
Paper Text:
I have a very strong memory of an experience of instinctual beauty. I was walking out of school, in my junior year of high school, onto a flight of outdoor stairs. I opened the door and the sky was perfectly blue with white clouds, just like you would imagine a perfect sky to look It was almost summer and the courtyard below my was lush green. I had just finished a poetry workshop that had gone well and was walking with my friends, listening to them making fun of our workshop guest and laughing. And I remember when I was outside, in the humid heat of New Orleans that you can smell and taste, like sweet steam and the sun that seems to embrace you. I could see outlines of the Mississippi river bridge and the skyline of downtown, and the brightly painted homes in the neighborhood around my school below the perfect blue sky. And I thought about how perfect everything seemed and how I felt like I had nothing to worry about, because everything was so beautiful and I was young and smart and lucky and almost grown up. I was so overcome by how happy I was and how beautiful everything was, I got kind of teary-eyed and started laughing even more. And even though I can no longer perfectly recall the way everything looked that day, I can perfectly recall how I felt. I was just completely grateful and happy and I felt like the whole world was beautiful at that moment.
That sort of all-consuming experience of beauty is very rare. It's worlds apart from a more personal, intellectual experience of beauty, which I find very common at Bryn Mawr. I remember one cold weekend freshman year, I didn't want to go outside and deal with the campus, so I ordered some Chinese and stayed in my room reading Anna Karenina for two days. I remember it as an incredibly lush and beautiful book. But I also remember how warm and cozy I felt in my own room, escaping from my less than beautiful class work.
I don't think I've seen anything that I thought was very beautiful in a few months. In order to perceive beauty, I have to be willing to see it. Too much work or stress can effectively block the beauty out. When I get so busy I must adhere to my plans, I cannot fit beauty into my life.
There are many things I would rather write about beauty than just my experience of it. This essay frustrates me because it only feels to obfuscate beauty. I would rather be doing my physics homework that writing this paper. Physics problems are beautiful to me. Physics is so impersonal. I can pour hours and hours into reading and calculating and re-writing my calculations and then find out that I am completely wrong in my assumptions and not feel bad. Because I find all of the thinking and calculating the most beautiful part. When I think through, say, Gauss' law, I am re-living how Gauss himself might have derived it.. If I were to fail an exam or completely screw up a problem, I wouldn't think I was a bad physicist. I would think I didn't study enough or I just didn't quite understand the concepts, and, instead of feeling too discouraged, just caution myself to do better.
To me, all parts of physics are beautiful. I am trying to explain the processes of the world using a system derived by human beings after centuries of work. If I think of a new idea, I am adding to a cannon of old ideas and progressing in a logical development of thinking. But if I screw up this essay, I'll feel like an awful writer and a disgrace to my heavily humanities upbringing. Because writing essays shouldn't get much harder depending on the topic, it's not like learning a new concept in physics. So I guess you could say that I don't like thinking about beauty in the contexts of this class, because it scares me. There are no logical answers and no calculations I can write out to prove my point or to explain why my answer differs from everyone else's. When I talk about beauty, I am, in fact, getting paint on my hands. In physics, I can usually keep myself happily distanced from the harsh criticism of the world by the daunting reputation of physics and hide inside my jargon and general awe of those who do physics. But for me, in many ways, it's the opposite. Physics makes sense. All of my experiences of beauty have many causes. No one can point to just one.
But yet, I can find beauty in things which I am not calculating, reading or seeing. Until I turned eight, I never stopped doing art. I was in special art classes at school, knew more about painters then than I probably do now and read several books on the subject, my favorite being the Linea series, in which a young girl travels to different places. My favorite was the one were she traveled to Monet's gardens in Giverny. Especially in elementary school, I was fascinated by the impressionists. I had posters, tried to imitate some of their techniques (poorly) and knew quite a bit about their lives. When I was fourteen, way past my arts phase, my family and I visited Giverny and all my childhood memories came rushing back. It felt like the most beautiful place in the world only because I could remember reading so much about it.. The gardens truly are breathtaking and the bridge really does curve over a pond with water lilies. The weather was perfect and I remember walking all over: the Japanese garden, the rows of flowers and even his house, with rooms painted appropriate colors for how he thought you should feel in the room (the kitchen was blue). Outside, everything smelled like flowers. And there were so many tourists walking around, sighing and smiling just as much as I was. It felt like an important, beautiful place. I don't know if I would still think it was the most beautiful place in the world if I re-visited it without my family on an ugly, cold, rainy day with no one around but me and some grumpy tourists.
It's hard to piece together how I experience beauty since each experience is different in its own way. Maybe someone will think of a formula for it.

Full Name:  Malorie Garrett
Username:  mgarrett@brynmawr.edu
Title:  My Wickedly Beautiful Experiance
Date:  2005-01-26 16:09:51
Message Id:  12245
Paper Text:


Web Papers
On Serendip

Describing beauty is a hard task for me because I have such a hard time defining and using it. As a word, it seems to me either to be to vague or to concrete for me to want to use it a lot. I would much rather use other words to describe what ever it is I find beautiful. I think the problem I have with the word is with it's connotation not it's denotation. The Webster New World College Dictionary, says that beauty is "the quality attributed to whatever pleases or satisfies the senses or mind, as by line, color, form, texture, proportion, rhythmic motion, tone, ect., or by behavior, attitude, etc" and "beautiful is applied to that which gives the highest degree of pleasure to the senses or to the mind" (127-128)(Webster New World Dictonary. Fourth Edition. 2000: IDG Books Worldwide). I agree with what it says, and I especially like how it links beauty and pleasure, yet I feel that the word beauty holds more than just what is stated in the definition. They describe it as pleasing the senses, yet I feel we use it more for just what we see with our eyes rather than all our senses and our mind. I know that when I was asked to think of something beautiful I immediately thought of a picture. It was only after the class discussion did I "realize" that lots things can be beautiful, not just those ascetically pleasing. Once I had this revelation, I thought of many things that I found beautiful. To me, it brought up the question of what is allowed to be dubbed beautiful. Does something that is beautiful must have an emotional or meaningful component? Throughout this paper I will be attempting to come close to if not an answer at least my answer to the question "what is beauty?"

As I thought of an example that I wanted to use for this paper, I tried to think of an experience that appealed to more than one of my senses. So I thought of something's that I love to see if in that I could find a beautiful experience. Then I thought of something that I find beautiful, moving, and enjoyable: the theatre. I love musicals, I find them beautiful. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. There are so many different aspects that go into a stage production, especially when it is a musical. Each of the aspects can be beautiful, as well as when they are all come together. Every time I go to the theatre, especially in New York, I have a beautiful experience even if the music, plot, lyrics, and even actors are bad. The way that everything flows together to create such a wonderful experience, and the fact that the actors, musicians, and technicians pull it off seamlessly eight times a week is simple beautiful.

The musical that I am going to talk about is currently my favorite musical and, in my opinion, the best musical currently on Broadway. It is called Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witched of Oz. It is based on the book Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. It tells the story of Elphaba, the green girl who grows up to be the Wicked Witch of the West. It starts with her and her sister arriving at Shiz University, a school for magic. An outcast because of her skin color, we soon find out that Elphaba has strong magical abilities. This gift gets her private lesson with Madame Morrible, a teacher and a witch herself, ruining her bubbly roommate Glinda's hopes to study with Madame Morrible. The two start out loathing each other but end up becoming best friends. At the end of the first act, Elphaba's dream comes true. She is invited to The Emerald City to meet with The Wizard. Glinda and Elphaba meet the Wonderful Wizard of Oz only to find out that he is not so wonderful. It is he, they find out, who has been causing harm to the Animals, intelligent, talking animals. He plans to use Elphaba's unique gift to control the Animals. She refuses and her and Glinda run away. Glinda suggests that Elphaba apologies to the Wizard and work with him since it is what she has always wanted, but Elphaba says that she can no longer want that. She decides to fly away into a life as a outlaw rather than work with the wizard. She wants Glinda to come with her, but Glinda decided to stay and work with the Wizard. It is a turning point for both characters. It sets them down their respective paths: that of the Wicked Witch and the Good Witch. The second act chronicles the more known part of the story, including Dorothy and the death of Elphaba's sister. Having been separate both physically as well as by their conflicting paths in the second act, they come together right before Elphaba's death to confirm their friendship singing, "Who can say if I've been changed for the better, but because I knew you, I have been changed for good" (Footnote:All quotes I from Wicked wither transcribed by me off the CD or else me paraphrasing what was said in the stage production from memory. I do not take credit for these words, they are the property of Steven Swartz (music and lyrics) and Winnie Holzman (book). For more info, go to www.wickedthemusical.com.).It ends with Glinda banishing the Wizard and asking the citizen of Oz if she can be allowed to try and be Glinda the Good for them.

I thought that my experiences with show would be a good example of what I find beautiful not only because I love it, but also because beauty is a theme of the show. Elphaba has trouble seeing herself as beautiful because of her unique skin color. She says to her boy friend that she wishes she could be beautiful for him. When he says she is beautiful, she tells him he doesn't have to lie to which he answers "It's not lying, it's just looking at things in another way". I really like the scene and I think it speaks well to what we are trying to do in class: to look at beauty in a new light.

I love this musical and have been fortunate to see it on Broadway twice. The first time that I saw it was about a month or two after it had first opened on Broadway. We had bought tickets before it opened so we had no idea what to expect going in. Not only were we pleasantly surprised how good it was, but we where blown away. The music and lyrics are so beautiful. I do not really know how to explain why I think it's beautiful but what I do know is that whenever I listen to it, it makes me feel good. Also, I know I like something when I sing it. I just get this good feeling, like a vibration when I sing along with the music. What I feel matches really well with the dictionaries description of something beautiful as the "highest degree of pleasure to the senses or to the mind" (127). The lyrics to I find really beautiful, even if they can be a little corny. They just capture the mood of the characters and the scene so well. For example, a line that I particular find beautiful comes in the first song in the second act called "Thank Goodness". Glinda, now a public figure, is trying to convince the people, and herself, that she "couldn't be happier" because her dreams came true. Despite her happy appearance, we become aware in the song that she is far from happy with her current situation:

. . . I couldn't be happier, no, I couldn't be happier. Thought it is , I admit, the tiniest bit unlike I anticipate. But I couldn't be happier, simply, couldn't be happier. Well, not simply. Cause getting your dreams, strange but it seems, a little, well, complicated. There's a kind of a sort of cost. There's a couple of things get lost. There are bridges you cross you didn't know you've crossed until you cross. And if that joy, that thrill, doesn't it thrill like you think it will. Still, with this perfect finally the cheers in the valley, who, who wouldn't be happier. So, I couldn't be happier because happy is what happens when all your dreams come true. Well, isn't it?

The way this song shows Glinda's vulnerability through her mask of happiness is in my opinion beautiful. She has what she thought she always wanted, yet something is missing, and that is her friendship with Elphaba. It is especially beautiful when you here it sung, because you can hear the emotion in her voice. Especially at the end, you hear her trying to convince herself that "happy is what happens when all your dreams come true".

After having seen it the first time, one thing that my friend and I both thought was the best part of the musical was Elphaba's actress Idina Menzel. She is truly a beautiful person. And while physically I do think she is beautiful, both when is and isn't green, that is not why I call her a beautiful person. She has a beautiful voice, and I think she is one of the best singers I have ever seen. The way she sings and portrays Elphaba is just so amazing to watch. She really brings you into the character and makes you love her. There is something about her on stage that just makes her so beautiful. It is hard to see just how truly beautiful she is if you haven't seen her perform. In the past, I have showed my friends pictures of Idina and other actors I find beautiful and said to them, "Aren't they just gorgeous?" and they have said "Yeah they are ok". I have gotten very mad at my friends who respond this way. But over the years I realized that they do not think they are beautiful cause all they see is the persons picture, they have not seen them perform. There is something about seeing a live performance that is just so beautiful. My favorite song in the musical is "Defying Gravity", it is the moment when Elphaba decides to defy the Wizard. Not only is it a great song and a great moment, but Elphaba flies up into the air for the end of the song. It is the most beautiful part of the musical, Elphaba flying above the stage singing "Everyone deserve the chance to fly!". And even though I was able to show my friends a clip of Idina performing this song at the Tony's, its still lakes the beauty of seeing it live.(The link for this clip is at the bottom of the page) Luckily, it is not just me who thinks that Idina is beautiful, Idina won a Tony this year for her performance in Wicked.

The second time I saw it with my friend was spur of the moment. After we saw her win the Tony, we knew we had to see it again with her, because we realized that the musical would never be as good without her in it. We decided to get the cheapest seats way in the back of the balcony and try to win the lottery that day. Like some other Broadway shows, Wicked has a lottery ever day two hours before the show for the sixteen or so seats in the front row. On a given day at the lottery there could be between two to four hundred people there. Each winner is allowed up to two seats, so usually only eight names are called. We had tickets for the Wednesday night performance, so we went there before the matinee and put our names in to no avail. So that night we decided to go back and try again since we figured we had nothing to lose since we had tickets for it anyway. I remember being stressed about winning in the afternoon, but I was calm in the evening. They called the first name and the women who is was screamed "I'm going to see Wicked!!". She was so excited, I was so happy for her. The next name they read was mine. I remember my jaw dropping as looked at my friend. I could not believe it was me: I had a moment where I forgot my name. They had to call me twice before I raised my hand and came forward to get my tickets. I remember my hands where shaking while I was getting my money out. When we got to our seats, we made friends with the other people who had won. The women who yelled was next to us with her daughter and it was their first time seeing it. My friend I clapped before Idina Menzel even came on stage, we were so excited. I cried twice, once during "Defying Gravity" and then again at the end of the performance. I am getting emotional just thinking about it. It was just such a beautiful experience, with the music, the words, the phenomenal actors, and everything else that went into the production. I was, and I am still, connected with the musical through my senses as well as emotionally. Seeing it was defiantly the "highest degree of please" for me. Looking back, I can say it was one of the best experiences in my life. It may seem superficial to say that, but winning the lottery and being able to see the musical from the front row was just such a beautiful experience for me, it is something I will never forget.

1)Wicked The Musical , the musicals official site

2)You Send It, This is the link to the video clip I uploaded of Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenowith singing "Defying Gravity" at the Tony's

Full Name:  Megan Monahan
Username:  mmonahan@brynmawr.edu
Title:  My Experience of Beauty
Date:  2005-01-26 16:24:53
Message Id:  12247
Paper Text:
Ultimately, my notion of beauty all comes down to how certain things make me feel. It is simply a word that I assign to objects, sounds, and sensations that make me the most happy whether that pleasure be visual, aural, or utterly indescribable. For me most of these experiences are shaped by things that I associate with the people and events that have meant the most to be. Beauty is such a subjective concept that is different for every individual but for me everything I find beautiful has a reason behind it, even if I don't realize it on the surface. In this way even the most seemingly mundane things can be spectacularly moving if they possess an element of the familiar. Conversely, objects that many would take great pleasure in can be repulsive if they evoke a negative experience.

My favorite sculpture is the bust of Nefertiti and has been for as long as I could imagine so I was quite pleased to see it included in the beauty survey. I can trace my intense feelings about it back to when I was about four years old and my parent bought a book from the Berlin Museum after a visit to see the Egyptian exhibit. I had not accompanied them on the trip but I became fascinated by the pictures of the exhibit in the book and made my parents take it with us everywhere we went. Most kids form this kind of attachment to stuffed animals or blankets but I chose a museum book. I would make my parents create stories about the objects in the books and my favorites were always the ones they made up about Queen Nefertiti. She seemed like such a glamorous figure and my mother would tell the story with such imagination that my love of the sculpture only increased. Eventually, I grew out of this obsessive streak that can overcome children but I still have a special fondness for the piece because of my personal connection to it. Nefertiti continues to be one of the most beautiful works of art I have ever seen because her mystery continues to captivate me even after all these years.

It also seems that as a result of my grandmother's home's décor I have a special affinity for antiques and almost all things vintage or retro. Her home was always a sanctuary for me when I was growing up because my family was always moving from place to place. My father was in the army for the first twelve years of my life so before then I never lived anywhere for much more than a year. I often found myself uprooted and relocated without much notice but throughout this my grandmother's house in Connecticut was a constant. My mother, sister, and I spent every Christmas and summer there and it was always the same. I loved exploring the huge ancient colonial house she lived in so much and had such a connection to it that to this day anything that reminds be of it inspires an overwhelming sense of beauty in me.

I vividly remember the wallpaper in my bedroom there. It was a very dated pink floral pattern. The flowers were all varying shades of pink and white on a dark pink, almost salmon, background. Most everyone else I know finds theses kinds of patterns repulsively tacky and unappealing but I love anything that brings it to mind and I'm sure it has inspired many of my purchases of loud floral shirts, scarves, and purses.

I have heard somewhere (I think most recently in an Axe deodorant commercial) that smell is the most powerful sense linked to memory which might be why I have such intense feelings about the smells I find beautiful. My mother was always cooking and trying new recipes but I was usually extremely picky about what I would deign to consume. However, she had one particular recipe for blueberry muffins that was the most amazing thing I had ever had. I didn't so much like to eat the muffins but I preferred the raw batter that was used to make them and more than that I liked the blueberry muffin batter without any blueberries in it. The smell of this concoction is the most beautiful I could ever imagine not only because it tastes so good to me but because it was my special treat that was uniquely my own. No one else in my family finds it even remotely appealing but my mother still makes it for me anyway and it is never quite as good when I try and make it myself.

One of my most recent experiences with my associative response to beauty was just last s
semester when I was in Lunt basement and David Gray's song "This Year's Love" began playing and I was almost moved to tears by how beautiful I found it. My friend who I was with found my reaction quite strange and proceeded to ask me what was wrong. When I responded that I thought the song was beautiful she screwed up her face and looked at me like I was crazy. She was confused because that kind of music is about as far my musical taste as possible and she was right; I would never have picked that to listen to.

What moved me so suddenly about it was that it reminded me very strongly of a road trip I had taken during my sophomore year of high school with my two best friends at the time. We had driven up to Maine in April when it was still really cold and stayed at one of my friend's grandparent's summer house on a lake. It was a really special experience and an extremely fun time for all of us so it was very meaningful to me. Apparently that David Gray song must have been playing during some critical point in the trip because I didn't even realize I had that association between it and that trip until I found myself standing in the café with tears in my eyes over the memory and that made the song the most beautiful I had heard in a quite a long time.

Though I don't particularly care much for nature and my worst nightmare is being forced to go camping in the woods, the one natural phenomenon that I have an astounding appreciation for is the beach. I have spent significant time at the beaches of Rhode Island every summer of my life and can think of no more beautiful sensory experience than that of being on the beach despite its obvious clichéd characteristics. No matter how much it sounds like an unoriginal personal ad, I think there is nothing quite akin to walking along the beach. The feel of the sand squishing between my toes and the salty smell of the water combined with the sensation of the sun on my face and the sounds of the soothing waves mixed with the loud caw of the seagulls is nearly unbearable in its beauty to me and the euphoria that it induces. I doubt I would have this love of the ocean if I had never experienced it firsthand. Many people have told me that the mountains in the west are breathtakingly beautiful but I have no desire to see them. Perhaps this is because the pictures I have seen do not do the mountains the justice they deserve or perhaps it is because they have no personal significance to me yet. Maybe if I went someday and had an amazing experience there the mountains would take on the beauty that the beach now holds for me.

In my life I have also found that negative experiences can impact my notion of what I find beautiful and it can even alter it completely. My bed at home had this really beautiful patchwork velvet quilt on it that I had had for several years and my love of it had never wavered. It was soft and warm and I enjoyed all the different colors and textures as well as the way they all blended together to make the whole. However, this past summer I came down with mono and was sicker than I had ever been in my life. I had a miserable fever and my tonsils swelled up so big that my throat nearly closed up and rendered my unable to speak for about a month. The pain was unbearable and I didn't leave my bed for weeks during which time I was constantly staring at that patchwork quilt. For the duration of my illness I didn't think much of the quilt's effect on me but after I got better my mother had the quilt dry-cleaned and I was without it for about a week. Then after it came back and she put it back on my bed I found myself lying under it that night utterly repulsed by it. It had become the ugliest thing I had ever seen over that short week of being away form it simply because it brought back the memory of how horrible my illness had made me feel. The memories the quilt recalled were so strongly adverse that they demolished all beauty the quilt had once held for me.

My own responses to what I find beautiful are the result of conditioning and would likely be quite different if I had had alternate life experiences. For that reason I find beauty so fascinating. My favorite aspect of it is that it is ever evolving and reflects who I am as a person. Years from now I could be finding monumental amounts of beauty in something that is dull and ordinary to me right now because I do not yet know its effect on my life and its relationship to me personally.

Full Name:  Liz Paterek
Username:  epaterek@brynmawr.edu
Title:  Beauty is a Double Edged Sword
Date:  2005-01-26 16:39:04
Message Id:  12248
Paper Text:


Web Papers
On Serendip

I hear a Mozart piece playing in the room as I stare up at the Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse. There are no ropes or alarms; I can almost feel the artist's energy emanate from the brush strokes. The room is a gilded cage, trapping me in all the decadence that beauty is to our society. The word baroque rings in my ears, as I stare at the fixtures, the walls and the moldings. A sweet gentle smell of roses is in the air. I see people from all walks of life milling around, each on his/her own. They discover for themselves the individuality of beauty. They smile, discuss their interpretations with one another, each statement is more unique than the next. The scene inspires me to create beauty. I want to stay here forever, as the scene consumes me.

Beauty is a beast. She is ever-changing, and overwhelming. She exists in everything and in everyone. She can entrance us, leading us to our doom, like the Odyssey's siren song. She is like a virus, using the human host to replicate without thought to the consequences. She always changes so we never know what she will be next. She can remain dormant in us for long periods of time, and surface in times of vulnerability. We cannot see her except in her creations; we cannot always find her when we look. She must find us. We need the benefits of joy and fulfillment that she can provide. However, she needs us just as much as we need her. Like the tree that falls in the woods, in order to exist, she needs people to admire her.

I watch as women waste away. Desperate to find beauty, they become more object than human. I watch those around me conform to ideals of feminine beauty. I feel the pressure to be the blonde Barbie ideal weighing me down. I watch as others forget who they once were because now their minds matter less than wearing a size 1. They are addicted to being small. I see images from the past that bind women. Corsets and foot binding alter the female form. Beauty has weakened them, made them small. They would die for beauty; they would feel pain for beauty and the happiness they think beauty can offer them.

Feminine beauty is a careful balance. I feel myself lose something when I am called beautiful. I become a doll; my mind, my heart, none of that matters but what is on the outside. The empty vessel becomes more important than its contents. Yet in a small part of me I feel fulfilled. I feel accepted, the beauty warms me inside. I feel it is the dilemma of being a woman; beauty is a double edged sword.

Beauty is like the lottery, once in a while a huge jackpot is struck, but mostly it is just small unexpected handouts. A large win can bring immense joy. It can also destroy us if we are not prepared. Those who find too much all at once can obsess over strikingly beautiful things rather than appreciate the small things. Eventually their own view of beauty fades, turning into a quest for what society holds up as beautiful. However, there are those who are content with the small things. I would count myself in this group. I appreciate the beauty of a simple flower or a child's crayon drawing. Instead of allowing it consuming life, beauty enhances it. However, I wonder if were I to find some startling beauty, if I too would change.

Beauty is a form of status. People use it to define who and what they are. These people find living in large mansions, having a beautiful car, a beautiful spouse, beautiful clothes, and beautiful children more important than being happy. It can happen to any one, sometimes I fear that it will happen to me. At first the things that started out making us happy, swell into a hopeless pursuit for more material possessions. I fear becoming a slave, only attaining what society deems beautiful rather than using introspection. I fear that I will forget that small beauty can sometimes be the best. I fear that I will forget that a truly passionate response to something can only come from within.

Beauty is fickle. What we find beautiful as a society and as individuals can be swayed. When we are taught something is beautiful, this will impact the way we view the object. I am more likely to find painting beautiful because I have been taught my whole life that it is. Stories change beauty. Even a sentence has the power to make a difference, adding some meaning to the piece, or making it dark and uninviting. When I heard the story behind the painting of Io, I could not help but find it more beautiful. It reminded me of the Grecian legends I love. However, if I did not like the story or it did not relate to positive images in my mind, I would find the object less attractive. If some one tells me the artist's motivation behind a piece, I sometimes worry that I will forget my initial thoughts.

Beauty is fleeting, both in us as individuals and in society as a whole. Sometimes understanding why we find things beautiful means that the beauty leaves the object. When trying to analyze it too much or to find out why it intrigues me, it the image loses some of its value because it has lost its individuality. It reminds me of the tearless response of art historians to art. Once they analyze it, they become incapable of having an emotional response to it. The author of the passage speaks of the painting he can no longer cry at. This reminds me of how I felt looking at the paintings or the photographs after I tried to find the reason behind the beauty. My pure passion for the piece had faded. I have also found myself becoming desensitized to the beauty of something I am too familiar with. I find it harder to see the beauty in a picture I have seen a thousand times or in a book I have read too often. Some beauty is lost and I question whether or not it will return. When society changes or cultures change, what is valued as beautiful also changes. Today there is a large emphasis on the past, however there have been times in the past where there used to be a larger appreciation of the present and the future. If I was born in the 1800's, would I appreciate the beauty of industrial progress over preserving the beauty of nature?

As objects change with time, beauty also changes. Individuals are powerless to fight against this. People who were beautiful in their youth can become haggard by the time they reach forty. The beauty of that individual has faded. Beautiful old buildings can be destroyed or fall into ruin. While they are most often seen as a new type of beautiful, the beauty is not the same as it once was. I wonder whether or not this is good. In some way the fear I have of aging is the result of the fact that in aging we lose youthful beauty. I find youth, the passion and vigor of it, much more beautiful than the wisdom of age.

Maybe I sound too cynical, that was not really my intent. We must take all of life with a grain of salt. Beauty is like lady luck, we can appreciate her but she can't be the only thing we rely on. Maybe I focused too much on superficial beauty. However, I feel that this is the way our society teaches us to be. While we talk about inner beauty, we are constantly bombarded by superficiality. Advertisements, commercialized music, television and culture teach us that it is more important to be superficial than to have substance. It teaches us that having whatever society deems beautiful is going to make us happy. I feel the weight of beauty not in the depth and individuality of the soul but in the immediate things that we see and hear. It is easier to look at the surface than to probe more deeply. American popular culture says that it is better to live an easy glamorously beautiful life than a fulfilling beautiful one.

Despite all its flaws, beauty is also the reason I wake up in morning. Beauty makes me happy to be alive. When I can see the beauty in something I feel happily overwhelmed. A world without beauty would be an emotionless one, the sterile civilized society out of Brave New World. When I think of beauty I think of pain but life is pain. If there was no pain how could we really appreciate joy or comfort? Even the bad side of beauty makes me more aware of the good beauty can do. Beauty inspires me to paint, to write, to read, to learn.

As I walk around the museum of beauty that exists in my mind, I think not on the pain that beauty can bring but merely allow it to overwhelm me for the time being. What should I do? I do not know. I don't think there is an answer to that question. The only thing I know is that I must find beauty for myself.

WWW Sources





Full Name:  Kat McCormick
Username:  kmccormi@brynmawr.edu
Title:  Making Sense of Beauty: Making Beauty of Sense
Date:  2005-01-26 16:43:01
Message Id:  12249
Paper Text:


Web Papers
On Serendip

Looking at it, laying there, just ejected out of the skull cap- that patch of horns, mess of fur- I began to recognize structures: medulla, pituitary, brains once orderly now splatted on the texas earth, steam rising off them still warm from life in the cold morning air. And I wondered that even these thoughts, my thoughts, only occurred due to exchange of ions: potassium, sodium, calcium, glucose, making their way across countless synapsesÑall those compounded simples somehow summating in the complexity of human thought, desire, and identity. And of this deer, what was spilled on the dirt there is nothing more that those same ions. The basis of life on this planet is nothing more than keeping those ions in a vital imbalance; controlling where they can and cannot go. And that controls what my hands do and do not do, whom my heart does and does not love, and whether it beats.

There has to be some sense in us all having such corporeal bodies and corporeal minds- bodies that shit and sweat and require constant energy and attention, needing three meals a day, and our organs all designed to help us interface with the world outside of us. As John Dewey states in his work Art as Experience (1), ÒOnly when an organism shares in the ordered relations of its environment does it secure the stability essential to living. And when the participation comes after a phase of disruption and conflict, it bears within itself the germs of a consummation akin to the esthetic.Ó What the sense is, I donÕt know, but I think Dewey is right in suggesting that the interface between self and other is the canyon from which beauty springs, but along with it, also ugliness and everything between. Beauty acts as a bridge across this canyon between humans, and ugliness is that bed of rocks, or raging waters, or molten lava Ðwhatever lies at the bottom- that seeks to keep us in our lonely sphere of isolation. And while I didnÕt find the experience of killing a deer beautiful, it did powerfully remind me of my own corporeal form and its capabilities and needs. Despite the messiness, I find THAT beautiful- being human, having a brain, and a body, and thought, and sensation. So there is my tenderness and my humanity. I want to be tasted and enjoyed, relished and coveted. The root of beauty is performing this task for another. In its way, the canyon of separation itself is beautiful; it is the wellspring of possibility. As Dewey (1) comments, Ò It also makes possible for him to carry to new and unprecedented heights that unity of sense and impulse, of brain and eye and ear, that is exemplified in animal life, saturating it with the conscious meanings derived from communication and deliberate expression.Ó Ultimately, from this follows all the experiences that people say are beautiful- love between people, nature, the familiarity of home, and the occasional movement to tears. What is beautiful is the extremity of feeling made possible through our separation in the uniquely human condition: in short, the experience of interaction of a human and the world beyond itÕs own skin. What follows are some of my own descriptions of beauty and a cursory analysis of what makes them so.

On the beauty of Tears:
The beauty of tears is in that they are the strongest physiological response that humans experience due to emotion. Also beautiful is their mystery: biologically, there is no reason for crying except to release and communicate strong emotion. They are a sensory response to a sensory stimulus, be it one of joy, of pain, of surprise, or sadness. Crying is a funny thing for me sometimes- I feel myself trying to compress, trying to pack hard and tight within me what is tough and what is true. I clench my muscles and try to bleed out through my tears anything that cannot stand up to this. I try to wring out all my impurities, till I am nothing but taut fabric, twisted expertly between two strong hands, streamlined, ready for use, centered on the moment, intent on maintaining this form. I release with my tears anything that cares, anything that feels, anything that emotes because these are the things that are dangerous; these are the things that can break you. The distillation is also profound, and both parts of it are beautiful: the concentrated emotion that escapes through my ducts, and the dry resolve that is left behind.

On the beauty of familiarity, nature, and home:
Having grown up in west Texas, since I left I have found no place like it. Although when I lived there I was eager to leave, I now find my memory of this specific land hauntingly beautiful, and I am no more convinced of its existence when I stand before it, still haunting, just on the other side of the reality of my life now. Leaving it in the car to return to the academic life, I reflect that this drive has long been cathartic to me: moving from origin forward, the dusty streets of the high plains, descending the Caprock, noting what grows where, the huge weather forms that play themselves out on the spanning canvas of sky. The vast wind lifting the red dirt and flinging it through the plains grasses, tumble weed assaulting the cars as they likewise make their way across the expanse of space. A building storm reaches down its spindly fingers, molding the dirt into funnels of dust-devils like a potter, the rotating earth its spinning wheel. Although I have traveled far, some part of me is still tied to this land, an umbilical with utmost elasticity, and I can identify with being flung from it by a tousling wind. This beauty is one that echoes vastness and power, as well as the beauty of a memory of childhood temporally separated from the present. Our susceptibility to time is another aspect of being a corporeal human that adds to the beauty of our experience in the form of memories.

On the beauty of love:
Love between humans, I would wager, is the most widely cited source of beauty. It is both intimate and universal, specific to the unique quirks of each relationship, yet the themes are so broadly transferable. The beauty of love is experienced and expressed by us corporeal humans through the senses: a soft touch, a sensuous curve that we visually follow, a characteristic smell, the sound of a laugh, or the thrill that comes of hearing ÒI love youÓ from the right person at the right time. The following is a sensory description of love that I found beautiful, which emphasizes the physicality of the human experience of love:

I cradle your face in both my hands, drawing you to me, palms running up your neck, fingers extending into the soft mystery of your hair. Standing behind you, both of us bare-chested in the soft glow of the room, I slowly follow the fluid line of your shoulders and neck with my cheek. My hands linger around the curves of your waist, hips, back, breasts- I am lulled to sleep by the lullaby of your fingers on my skin. Keeping time with the soft intake of breath as I fill my lungs, wondering if I am full of you, of that same air which has given you a moments nourishment. And even when you are no longer mine, how can I regret having you, curling behind you protective as we sleep, whispering our minds into the dark of night. How can I regret the travels of my fingers? And I hope someday, if you do not have me, I hope if you are cold and alone, you will not forget the way I cherished you.

What is so beautiful to me in this description is not only the love that it describes, but the description of the ways that humans experience love- through communication of touch and talk, through craving unity while knowing that experience will remain individual, despite love. As Dewey (1) says, Ò ÔSenseÕ covers a wide range of contents: the sensory, the sensational, the sensitive, the sensible, and the sentimental, along with the sensuous.Ó It is through these experiences of sense that we determine beauty, and all that we find beautiful: love, family, art, thought, and each other.


1) Dewey, John. Art as Experience. Perigree, 1934.

Full Name:  Tanya Corder
Username:  tcorder@brynmawr.edu
Title:  Life is Beautiful
Date:  2005-01-26 16:48:02
Message Id:  12250
Paper Text:
I'm born. My senses are exploring their capabilities: I blink and allow my eyes to take in the sudden surge of light. I stop crying and begin to listen. I inhale the fresh aroma of soap. My tightened fist slow relaxes and my fingers blossom. Such effort exhausts me and I sleep. From the moments of infancy, my encounters with the world around me have shaped my ever-changing understanding of beauty. People assign the term beauty to entities they encounter that incite a pleasurable response. One can not classify objects as beautiful in the manner that one classifies an apple as a fruit. A fruit is an ovary that surrounds the seeds of a plant; because an apple has seeds, it may be classified as a fruit. Beautiful entities can never have defining characteristics, because two entities may both have similar characteristics, for example florescent colors, but only one may excite you. Beauty is at times unpredictable and unexplainable. You may not be able to explain what it is about the object that pleases you so much, or why an object arouses you now, but may not have before. An object's beauty may be temporal, temporal with the capability to be revitalized, or may just be imperishable. Ugly objects are not needed to experience beauty because beauty incites emotion. If one must compare the object to another object to determine if it is beautiful, the object is undoubtedly not beautiful; you just know when something is beautiful. I have come to draw these general conclusions through my encounters with beauty in my journey through life. As a child, my perceptions of the world were pure and untainted by society and education. I knew the world as it was, as it is. Because my mind was so clear and open, I could draw my own conclusions and make my own connections. The world was open before me as my curiosity ran rampant. I would pick the prettiest smelling flowers, and roses and carnations were not among them. The plumerias from Mrs. Hubshman's garden were the prettiest and smelt the sweetest because of the bee sting I suffered while retrieving them. At the beach, I would not admire the serene setting of the waves crashing on the shore, but would rather follow the hermit crab back to its hole and observe it's every move. The reef with all of its creatures interacting would be the reason I would not return home until after dark. Even the ugliest stonefish was beautiful to me; I could watch it for hours. It was at this age that I realized I was attracted to the beauty in the living and life. Inanimate objects did not change and thus did not stimulate me. I never played with dolls because of the notion of pretending they were alive. I wanted responsive interaction. Drawings and static settings did not captivate me. This fascination created to foundation for my later opinions of beauty. Adolescence was an awkward time in my life. It was when I shed my childhood and was pushed into adult life. My body and mind changed and so did my understanding of the world and people. I was introduced to mainstream media and popular culture and my views and experiences with beauty were limited by society. The experience of beauty is meant to provide a sense of appreciation, excitement, and gratification; however, this was a time when society's elite standards cut off my connection with worldly beauty and placed more of an emphasis on humans and outer appearances. Humans naturally fit into the category of entities that may be deemed beautiful. However, according to societal standards, not all humans should be considered beautiful. The select few that it has deemed worthy of such title are displayed on magazine covers, within our television sets and computer screens, on billboards, and essentially everywhere else a pair of eyes can connect with. They are to be ideally flawless. During adolescence, I came to envy this flawlessness. Despite how much people would tell me that it is our imperfections that make us unique, the power of media was (and still is) so resonant that it was impossible to break from its influences. Everyone has insecurities. It is normal, but a lot of my insecurities are directly brought about by society pressures. My perceptions of beauty transformed into one of perfection. My world transformed into one of cosmetics and beauty products. It was not until my best friend, who suffered from depression and anorexia, was admitted into a rehabilitations center at an emaciated 83 pounds, that I broke loose from the societal image of beauty. I made a covenant to myself to fall back into that lifestyle again, and I have not shaved my legs since that day to show that I am not superficial. Despite my negative experiences, I learned an important lesson about beauty during that time: A sense of personal beauty is very vital because one cannot learn to appreciate the beauty in other things until they fully connect with their own beauty. As cliché as it may sound, it proved true for me. When weighted in my own insecurities, I spent very little times noticing others or the phenomenal world about me. I was so consumed in trying to better myself or hide what I could not fix. Also, I learned that despite how society may portray the quest for beauty as a contest with your peers, beauty cannot be ranked. Each beautiful experience or object is individually beautiful apart from the array of other beauty encounters. There is no such thing as more beautiful to me – just beautiful in a different way. Last, the shift from worldly beauties to beauty in humans remained with me from that time on. At the end of my freshman year in high school, I discovered one of the most beautiful things I have ever encountered, my first love. This experience brought me closer to beauty than I ever thought was possible. Anatomically, I have always viewed the human body as breath taking. The definition of the muscles, the interdependency of the organs, and the complication of it all has always fascinated me. Therefore, my own personal interaction, emotionally and physically, with such personification of beauty was amazing. Minnie Riperton sang, "Loving you is easy 'cause you're beautiful," and it wasn't until then that I fully understood the implications behind that phrase. Before this time, I was able to take awe, serenity, warmth, excitement, fascination and even pain from beauty, but never love. Love is the strongest emotion that beauty has been able to evoke for me. It was not his physical beauty that I was drawn to so much, (although I could stare at him for hours) it was the beauty of the interactions between us. The last major "beautiful" events in my life that have affected my perceptions of beauty were the birth of my niece and my adventure into college. Caring for my niece throughout the first year of her life opened up my eyes to the essence of purity. The softness of her skin, the innocence in her actions, the warmth she gives off, and her fragility all help explain the feeling of satisfaction you feel when she falls asleep on your shoulder, laughs at your funny faces, or witness her development and growth. The fact that she was a product of such a beautiful relationship also adds to the beauty she radiates. The self-gratification I felt when taking care of her can only be explained through beauty. I had lived my entire life on a three mile long island sheltered from the world. Although one imagines what life may be like in the metropolitan of the United States, nothing can describe the experience. Beauty was portrayed to me in the change of the seasons. The fall's colors and serenity first appealed to me here. Although I had seen paintings and photos of fall, it was this need for a physical interaction with it to understand it's beauty. (Remember, I developed this need for interaction in childhood.) The winter as well was a memorable encounter with beauty. Who ever knew there could be so much beauty in the death of life? The encompassing and brilliant snow exited me as if I were a child again. What I took from coming to college was that there is so much beauty in new experiences; however, because they are new, they are short lived and cannot be relived. In general, the beauty in my life has been seen as a mind-altering emotional experience. As a result of those experiences, I see this enigmatic world in a new light. My senses are suddenly more conscious, my optimism is refueled, and I take with me something new from every encounter with beauty. I learn more about myself, and I have a deeper understanding of the world itself. I am reborn. To be at peace with yourself and with your surroundings one needs a regular dosage of beauty. "Share Beauty. Spread Hope." –Breast Cancer Bracelet

Full Name:  Rebecca Donatelli
Username:  rdonatel@brynmawr.edu
Title:  My Experience of Beauty
Date:  2005-01-26 16:51:31
Message Id:  12251
Paper Text:


Web Papers
On Serendip

When considering what is truly beautiful in this world there is no shortage of possibilities. In order to begin this discussion on what I think is beautiful it is important to explain how I distinguish what is truly beautiful from other things that I might find attractive or pleasing. I look at things and I can see that they are attractive or pleasing but when something is beautiful I don't see it. I feel it. Beauty elicits in me a physical response which can be anything from smiling to having my heart race. It often overwhelms me and yes I have found some things so beautiful that I have been moved to tears. Things that are attractive or pleasing can make me smile. However, things that are beautiful compel me to smile.

What I have always found odd or even upsetting is my lack of interest in fine art. I can't remember a time when I have stood in front of a painting, sculpture, or even a building that has overwhelmed me with beauty. I can appreciate why they are considered to be fine art but I would not say that I consider them beautiful. This is because they are lacking a personal experience or familiarity behind them. In making my room both at home and at school beautiful, photographs were the most important element. My photographs are beautiful because they remind me of the beautiful things in my life and of beautiful experiences I have had.

What are the beautiful things my pictures remind me of? I am a very family oriented person and a homebody so for the most part they remind me of the people dearest to me and my home in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. This picture of my parents is from last Christmas Eve and it is very beautiful. When I look at it I can't help but smiling. Granted it is a silly picture and many people might smile looking at it but it is safe to say that the vast majority of people wouldn't call it beautiful and might even call it stupid. However, this picture conveys to me so much of my parent's personality. I can almost hear them laughing and making their dorky comments wearing their silly Christmas hats while everyone is preparing Christmas Eve dinner.

I have lived in Point Pleasant for about twenty years now and when people have unkind things to say about New Jersey I am the first person to jump to its defense. Point Pleasant is a small beach town and I think it is one of the most beautiful places. The beauty of the ocean needs no defense. I always find it amazing how the ocean is so powerful and can be at times treacherous yet I have spent hours swimming in it and sitting on the beach looking at it with admiration. No matter how many times I see the ocean I still find it beautiful and cannot even imagine how it must feel to experience the beauty of the ocean in person for the first time.

In addition to the beauty of the ocean I have had many beautiful times at the beach. Picture III is of my sister and I at the beach. There was no one to take the picture of us so I just reached my arm out as far as I could and the picture came out absolutely beautiful. My family has worked and played at the beach for years so I have many good memories there. While the beach is certainly beautiful during the day it is the most beautiful at night. During the summer my friends and I go to the beach every night. The air is usually cool but the water is warm and we wade, and play Frisbee and just enjoy having the beach to ourselves. At night you can see the way the moon affects the water and it is gorgeous. The beach is beautiful to me because it is my home and I have had so many wonderful experiences there.

At times being away from my home in Point Pleasant is difficult. However, for the past year and a half Bryn Mawr more specifically Radnor has become my second home. Picture four is a picture that one of my roommate's parents took last year on our first day at Bryn Mawr. I had three roommates who I became very close with and we truly did make the quad our home. Looking back the quad was beautiful. As you looked around our room you could see the coming together of all of our personalities. Meghan had posters of Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy and Liz had her posters of snowboarders and the Simpson's. I added postcards that people had sent me to the walls and had some plants on my desk. However, my roommate Caitlyn probably did the most decorating out of all of us. She had tapestries and pillows everywhere and in her corner of the room you couldn't see any white space on the walls (picture five is her corner). Because of our location in Radnor we had our own little hallway that we spilled out into. We had a daybed, a chair and a coat rack in the hallway. At any given time there would be a pile of shoes in the hallway and all of this really gave it a homey feeling which I find beautiful. For hell week trials our crime was that we had over decorated our room and our punishment was to decorate the campus center which we did.

Aside from the physical beauty of the room, the quad was beautiful in the way that it brought people together. It was the central place of gathering for my closest friends at Bryn Mawr. Our door was always open and the room rarely had less than two or three people in it. I would go home sometimes and none of my roommates would be there but two or three people that didn't even live in our room would be there and that was beautiful. For about a month the quad actually became the quint as one of our friends was waiting for a room change. Picture six shows the quint having a slumber party in one of the bedrooms of the quad. This picture is beautiful because it shows how we all came together in the quad.

Up to this point the things I have discussed are beautiful because they are reminders of experiences I have had. However, I do find things beautiful that I have not directly experienced. For example one of my favorite paintings is Jack Vettriano's "The Singing Butler" (picture seven). It was mentioned before that I have never really been able to connect with fine art; however, I do find this painting to be very beautiful. I find the colors very attractive and the whole concept of the picture is very romantic. I love the idea of a beautifully dressed man and woman dancing outside in the rain while their servants chase them around with umbrellas. However, the thing that takes this picture from visually and mentally pleasing to beautiful is the fact that this is my mother's favorite painting. I cannot look or think about this picture without thinking about her. Unlike the other pictures discussed I have not directly experienced what is being shown. However, I still feel it is beautiful because of a mental connection that does not come directly from the picture.
In a similar way I find the pictures that my ex-roommate Caitlyn takes to be very beautiful and I do consider them to be art. Pictures 8 and 9 are two of my favorites because they convey her personality so well. I wasn't there when she took them and I don't know why she took them but I look at them and I can see her personality in them. The fact that she has managed to capture that in two pictures of her feet is beautiful.

Up until this point I have focused on primarily on things that are visually beautiful and the beautiful experiences or people behind them. However, beauty does not necessarily have to be seen but rather beauty can be heard and perhaps felt, tasted, and smelled. For example I find many different kinds of music beautiful especially music from musicals. I have seen many productions on Broadway and I have bought many of their soundtracks. I find these especially beautiful because they are telling stories and I can feel the emotion of the cast through the songs. The best example I can think of would be the song Into the Fire from my favorite musical The Scarlet Pimpernel. The song is sung by a group of English gentlemen who are going into France to save people from the guillotine during the French Revolution. When I listen to the song my heart starts to race.

I have been raised a Catholic and I have not been practicing lately for numerous reasons. However, I find religious music to be the most beautiful. The only times I have ever been moved to tears by music have been in my church on a few different occasions. I find the music at Christmas Eve mass to be very beautiful especially Ave Maria and What Child is this? These songs always bring back a great deal of memories for me. However, the most beautiful song I have heard is Be Not Afraid. The message of the song is that you can go through all of these horrible situations but have faith that God is with you. At this point of my life when I am questioning my faith this is a very powerful and beautiful message.

In conclusion my experience of beauty is one in which memories and experiences set apart what is beautiful from that which is pleasing to the eye or the ear for that matter. My home, family, and friends are beautiful and I try to surround myself with pictures and things that emulate their beauty.

Full Name:  Muska Nassery
Username:  mnassery@brynmawr.edu
Title:  The Day I Met Pecola Breedlove
Date:  2005-01-26 16:55:57
Message Id:  12252
Paper Text:


Web Papers
On Serendip

I named her Cynthia and taped her to my bathroom mirror. In the picture I had of her, she was standing next to what I had imagined was her boyfriend—except that her boyfriend wasn't interesting to me, so I cut him out of the picture entirely. Now all that remained of Cynthia's boyfriend was one long, strong arm that wrapped around her petite waist.

I first saw Cynthia in one of my older sister's Seventeen magazines. I was twelve years old and my mom wouldn't let me read Seventeen, so I had to sneak around and flip through them when nobody was home. When my mom asked why a super model was taped to the bathroom mirror, I simply shrugged and pretended like one of my sisters had done it.

Cynthia caught my eye immediately. She was tall, skinny, big-breasted and always dressed in a glamorous evening gown. She had long, blonde, thick hair that draped down her back like a royal velvet cloak and her skin was always clear, flawless and white. But what I loved so much about Cynthia wasn't her hair, or her skin, or even the elegant dress she wore—it was eyes. They were cobalt-blue with a twinkle that beckoned you to notice them and then demanded your full attention. You could almost erase everything else in the picture because none of it was important except for her eyes. Cynthia was beautiful.

Every morning I would wake up, go to the bathroom, take one glance at Cynthia and then begin my daily routine. Make-up containers, foundation brushes and eyelash curlers were strewn all over the counter. I started by lathering creamy foundation all around my cheeks and forehead and then padded my face with pale white powder that caked my face with snowy dust. It made my skin look a few shades lighter, although my ears and neck were always brown and tan in comparison. Sometimes people at school would laugh and call me Ghost Face, which only made me defensive. "It's not make-up!" I'd shout back, "I naturally look this way!"

After putting on my white foundation, I ironed my hair straight. It was something I had seen my two older sisters do on special occasions. My oldest sister, Roya, would lie down on her back while my other sister, Najlla, would collect all of her hair and drop it on an ironing board and then iron it as if it were a wrinkly blouse. Roya would then sit straight up and shake her pin-straight hair around, like a model on a shampoo commercial. So I tried to iron my hair as well, except that I refused to ask for either of my sisters' help, which always led to big disasters. Some mornings I would hold the metal frame of the iron onto my scalp for too long and then feel a sharp burning sensation on the top of my head, only to find that I had burned sections of my hair off. To make it worse, even on the days in which I managed to iron my hair without burning myself, my hair still never looked sleek and shiny like Cynthia's. My straight hair fell limp and dry, like a ratty doll's head that had been untamed by its owner for years. But yet, I would not give up the pursuit to look like Cynthia—the pursuit to look beautiful.

Ironically, my mom didn't take much notice to my white face and straight hair. She assumed that it was some sort of trend or phase that middle-school kids were going through, and that eventually I would be back to my normal self. It wasn't until I confronted her about my eyes that she began to realize that what I was going through wasn't just an innocent pre-teen phase, it was a serious problem.

I ran up to my mom one day after dinner with a magazine in my hand—I had forgotten that I wasn't supposed to let her know that I was reading them. I flipped to a page with another model—who ironically still looked a lot like Cynthia—who held a contact lens on the tip of her finger. Beneath the model and the contact lens was a sentence of text: "NOW YOU CAN MATCH YOUR EYES WITH YOUR SWEATER", and to my amazement the model's blue eyes did match her blue sweater!

"Look mom, colored contacts!" I shouted emphatically, "Now I can match my eyes with my sweater!"

My mom looked down at my florescent pink sweater, and then back up at my eyes, and just smirked.

"But Muska, you don't even need contacts. You have perfect vision. Why are you reading that trash anyway? I thought I told you not to read your sisters magazines. Why don't you go read a book?"

But I most certainly did not go read a book. I was furious with my mom for so casually tossing my idea aside. Didn't she know how important this was to me? Didn't she realize that I wanted cobalt-blue eyes like Cynthia? But instead I decided that getting blue eyes was much like putting on my white foundation and ironing my hair—I had to do it on my own if I ever expected to be beautiful.

So I added something new to my daily morning routine. I woke up, went to the bathroom, took one glace at Cynthia and then stared directly into the high voltage ceiling lamp for ten minutes. This will ruin my vision, I thought to myself, and then Mom will have to get me colored contacts. Then I proceeded with the rest of my routine of caking on white foundation and trying to iron my hair straight.

I didn't tell anyone about my new trick to get blue eyes. If I was walking to the school bus, I would keep my eyes glued to the bright sun. If I was in a classroom, I'd keep my eyes at the ceiling lights. One day my seventh-grade English teacher, Mrs. Deagan, stopped me after class and asked me why my eyes were drifting away from the chalkboard whenever she taught a lesson. I hadn't planned on telling her the real reason, but I decided that if there was anyone I could tell, it was Mrs. Deagan.

"My mom won't let me get contacts unless my eyes are messed up, so I'm messing up my eyes and looking at the light," I said and then pointed to the flickering lights above us. "They have new colored contacts; I saw them in a magazine."

"And what's wrong with your eyes now? You have beautiful green eyes," Mrs. Deagan said with a concerned look on her face.

"Nothing's wrong with my eyes. I just want blue eyes. I think I would look better with blue eyes," I said, while suddenly realizing that I probably shouldn't have told Mrs. Deagan my plan.

She wrote something down on a piece of scrap paper, "Have you ever heard of Pecola Breedlove?"

I shook my head and thought she was crazy.

"Well," Mrs Deagan said as she handed me the scrap piece of paper, "I want you to look up Pecola Breedlove, read about her, and then get back to me. Until then, please keep your eyes on the chalkboard before you get behind on your schoolwork."

I nodded and felt a bit of relief. Mrs. Deagan wasn't going to tell my mom about my plan to ruin my eyes, and that's all I cared about. But in the meantime, I ran to the school library and decided to look up the strange person with the strange name that Mrs. Deagan wanted me to read about.

I typed "Pecola Breedlove" into a search engine in the library computer, and to my surprise she wasn't an actual person. She was a character in a book called The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. I had never heard of the book or the author before, but decided that if it was about blue eyes then I might as well read it.

I remember it exactly—I was sitting in an alcove in the library, next to a window that overlooked the school parking lot. Students were hopping onto buses or getting picked up by their parents, and I just sat looking over them with the book in my lap. The book was fairly new—the only signs that the book had been used in the past were a few dog-eared pages and some underlined sentences, but besides that the book was brand new.

I searched for Pecola, because that was the person who Mrs. Deagan told me to look out for. I found her right away. She was a little black girl who wanted blue eyes and was somewhat obsessed with Shirley Temple and her curly blonde hair and blue eyes. "Adults, older girls, shops, magazines, newspapers, window signs—all the world had agreed that a blue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned doll was what every girl child treasured. 'Here,' they said, 'this is beautiful, and if you are on this day "worthy" you may have it." When I read that sentence my heart stopped.

Suddenly, I realized the tragic self-hatred that Pecola must have felt that lead her to desire another ideal of beauty—a white ideal of beauty. She was an intelligent girl who had managed to survive an abusive father, a life of poverty, and endless ridicule, and yet she could not see the beauty that she possessed. Instead she began to believe that she was inherently ugly and unworthy, which ultimately lead her to idealize blue eyes as the symbol of beauty and freedom. It wasn't until that moment that I realized that I had been doing the same thing. I was just like Pecola Breedlove.

I'm not sure if it was that day or perhaps a few days later that I took Cynthia's picture down from my bathroom mirror. The day I saw myself in Pecola Breedlove, I realized that the most beautiful things on earth are not physical. They cannot be torn out of magazines or taped to mirrors or mimicked through make-up. It was through Pecola's mental destruction that I realized that there was such thing as "superior beauty." Superior beauty is the beauty that blossoms from human connection and love. Toni Morrison, through her words, transferred beauty onto Mrs. Deagan, and Mrs. Deagan, through her love and concern, had transferred the beauty of Toni Morrison's words onto me. And now I hope to someday become a writer and perhaps through my words I can transfer beauty to other people and connect with them through our mutual struggles. It was this kind of superior beauty that changed my life forever, and hopefully someday I can teach everyone how to find nothing more beautiful than the eyes they have.


WWW Sources





Full Name:  Krystal madkins
Username:  kmadkins@brynmawr.edu
Title:  Finding Beauty...
Date:  2005-01-26 16:57:00
Message Id:  12253
Paper Text:


Web Papers
On Serendip

"That was beautiful!" When I make such an exclamation, nine times out of ten, it is in regards to some musical composition or cinematic work. I appreciate many other things besides music and film but I rarely use the word 'beautiful' to describe them; other adjectives like 'nice,' 'pretty,' 'interesting,' or 'good' come to mind but hardly ever 'beautiful'. It seems that a word so loaded (at least for me) is reserved only for describing those things that I enjoy most...music and movies. Anyone who truly knows me knows that a large amount of my time is spent drinking in music and movies, appreciating the beauty of various works and trying to understand how it all comes together in such a beautiful way.

As I write, I realize that in earlier discussions surrounding beauty that I expressed an opinion that I no longer hold. This was the generally shared opinion that knowledge can distract away from beauty. After analyzing the survey results and reactions along with the readings, I stated, like so many others that knowledge or familiarity diminishes the beauty of objects. I realize that when I reached these conclusions I was thinking in terms of artwork, like paintings and sculptures, and revered places. Things that I appreciate but rarely get as riled up about as with film and music. With these two areas, though, I find that learning about the intricacies and history behind sometimes amplifies the beauty. This is especially the case with music.

The rock band 'The Strokes' have produced numerous songs that I am in awe of and consider beautiful amongst other things. One song of theirs that stands out in particular is "Reptilia". I was amazed by the song the first time that I heard it and continue to be amazed by it which makes the idea that familiarity leads to finding something less beautiful false for me.

Listening to the song without any analysis and purely for enjoyment led me to the conclusion that I was listening to a great work of art...a real beauty. But analysis of the song in terms of composition and meaning also led me to see the beauty of the song.

The song starts with the steady beat of the drums before quickly being joined by the guitar and after a few beats, another guitar and the bass. The instruments all come together in a smooth, intricate twine with the bass and the drums providing the strong yet subdued underlying beat and rhythm. The guitar comes out as the most prominent of the instruments without, however, overpowering the other instruments. Suddenly the other instruments drop off as the guitar plays over the low beat of the drum. Seconds later the bass rejoins to offer its low rumbling to the song as the guitar and drum continue to accompany rough voice of the singer. With the strike of the cymbal the lead guitar comes in to add the final layer. A few short beats later the rest of the instruments cease to play, leaving the guitarist to strum an edgy, lulling chords over the sudden silence. This describes, ineffectively, only the first minute or so of the beautiful interplay of the instruments in the song. Only through hearing the actual music can the beautiful nature of the song be captured.

Along with listening to and recognizing how the instruments all come together to form the music that can be identified as beautiful even without all the analysis is the contribution that the meaning of lyrics provides. The song is open to interpretation and may vary from listener to listener. In my opinion this song with lyrics such as,

Yeah, the night's not over
You're not trying hard enough,
Our lives are changing lanes
You ran me off the road,
The wait is over
I'm now taking over,
You're no longer laughing
I'm not drowning fast enough,

is about a relationship that is near its end because of mixed feelings and misunderstandings. Knowing (possibly) what lead singer, Julian Casablancas, is singing about in such a raw and emotional way over the urgent, upbeat playing of the instruments only adds to the beauty of the song. All the elements come together to make the song one complete thing of astounding beauty.

Nina Simone's version of "I've Got it Bad and That Ain't Good" is also a song that I find to be beautiful. I've even been brought to tears a number of times by the song (I'm looking at you Elkins!). The instruments accompanying Simone in the song are not as complexly wound together as the Strokes' "Reptilia". It is Simone's voice, which she manipulates like a tangible instrument, which offers complexity. The simple, mellow music provided by the piano and percussion offer an appealing contrast to Simone's strong and emotion laden voice which constantly quivers and trembles and soars. In what I find to be the most affecting section of the song, the piano's keys sound softly and the drums provide a slow, serene and gentle beat as back up singers suddenly begin to coo lowly. Nina Simone resumes singing in her trademark deep quaking voice, her voice soaring and thinning out, the sound of threatening tears in her words of:

And when the weekend's over
And Monday rolls around
I end up like I start out
Just crying my heart out
He don't love me like I love him
No, nobody could
I've got it bad
And that ain't good
Lord above me, make him love me.

Reading the words would most likely alert the reader to the melancholy of a lover spurned, of the lover's desperate, unrequited lover. These words, which are indeed very poetic and touching, do not have nearly the effect (in my opinion) as they do when Nina Simone sings them with so much fervor. The words, the music, Simone's voice all combine to create beauty that would not have been possible without each of the elements interacting. As with "Reptilia," the song continues to be beautiful to me even after multiple listens and analysis of how the song comes together. Regardless of how much I hail "I've Got it Bad..." the true beauty of the song will continue to escape the reader unless the reader becomes the listener.

Cinematic presentations also have the rare ability to move me to use the word 'beautiful' as an adjective. As a lover of movies, I have watched hundreds of movies and enjoyed a good number of them. There are some films, however, with particular shots, scenes, or sequences that stick out in my mind. These parts of the movie contribute to the overall beauty of the film and are themselves made beautiful by numerous components. Similar to the songs mentioned earlier, the beauty of these piece are made up of the very moving picture itself, the various techniques used to make the image on the screen possible, and the meaning of the scene or sequence.

An example is a scene from Mira Nair's "Monsoon Wedding." In the scene, two of the secondary characters, Dubai and Alice, who will eventually marry by the film's end, meet for the first time. The scene unwinds slowly, almost in slow motion, as a classic Punjabi song about love in the air plays. Alice, a servant for the family of the main female character, is picking up cups and marigolds from the gazebo being prepared for the wedding. She picks up one marigold that is undamaged, tosses it up in delight, and with a smile places it behind her ear. Dubai, the wedding planner, is on the phone talking to his mother underneath a doorway of the gazebo being decorated by marigolds. The scene returns to normal paced motion as Alice rises. While Alice is leaving the gazebo she bumps into a distracted Dubai and drops the tray with the glasses and marigolds. The scene slows again as she bends down, apologizing, to pick up the broken glass and flowers while Dubai distractedly grimaces and writhes. She suddenly looks up at Dubai's face and appears taken back. Dubai seems not to notice with his attention held by his phone conversation and pain. The motion shifts back to normal speed as Alice rises with the tray and leaves the gazebo. Dubai ends his phone conversation as marigolds from the top of the gazebo's entrance fall down around him. One lands on top of the phone he has just placed in his shirt pocket. The scene seems to slow again as Dubai slowly picks the flower from his pocket, studies it, and puts it in his mouth. As he chews the marigold he turns to look at the off-screen, retreating Alice with deep curiosity.

The constant shifting in the speed of motion lends the scene a dreamlike quality that contrasts with the ordinary actions of the characters. The lingering shots of Alice's taken aback expression when she first sees Dubai and of his delayed look of curiosity, the presence of the marigolds, and the magical quality of the background music work with the altering picture speeds to create a beautiful scene that is difficult to articulate. The scene, with its clash of realism and dreaminess, is all the more beautiful with the knowledge, gained later in the movie, of the relationship that the two will grow to have and the symbolic importance of the marigold to that relationship.

As I look back over what I have written, I have reached another conclusion about myself and the things I find beautiful. While the examples I listed varied in form (music and film) and in genre (rock and jazz), they all share a theme of romance and human relationships. These relationships are often so complex that while there are similarities when singing or making a film about them, there is room for many varying interpretations and expressions...which can be analyzed and studied, helping to appreciate the overall beauty. As new information and revelations continue to flow into my mind and assemble together to help me better understand the things I find beautiful, I am almost led call the process beautiful.

Full Name:  Jaya Vasudevan
Username:  jvasudev@brynmawr.edu
Title:  Defining Beauty: A Reflection of Personal Experiences of the Past
Date:  2005-01-26 16:59:25
Message Id:  12254
Paper Text:
Jaya Vasudevan
Professor Dalke/Burgemayer
CSEM 02/English 249

Defining Beauty: A Reflection of Personal Experiences of the Past

In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, and look around you. – Leo Tolstoy
So, what exactly is beautiful? Upon hearing the question, my brain, usually capable of explaining the process of photosynthesis of or finding the anti-derivatives of enormous and complex numbers, manages to go completely blank and melts into a blob of confused, gray matter. The word "beautiful" is a term that I refuse to use very often, because of the kind of power and in a way mystery that it holds on many levels. Although I admit there are many appealing objects and sights in the world that others would find beautiful- like sculptures and paintings by great artists such as Raphael or Monet, architectural masterpieces like Eiffel Tower and the Great Pyramids- I firmly believe that beauty goes beyond what is tangible, and that personal experiences with life that hold meaning to an individual are truly what's beautiful in the world. After all, can one compare the superficial beauty of these objects and places to the eternal memories and emotions that a person may carry with them for a lifetime?
For that reason, one of first places that I immediately equate with beauty would be my parent's home country of India, but definitely not for her breathtaking sceneries or rich and unique history. Surely watching the sunrise and the sunset over the Indian Ocean or viewing the Taj Mahal for the first time have been some magnificent experiences that many strangers and friends alike are very jealous of, but unfortunately most people of the Western world know nothing beyond the commercialized sights and spectacles offered by India. As I reflect on my numerous trips to this country as a child and as an adolescent, I realize that many of my experiences, although not the greatest, have inadvertently raised me into the person that I have become. One experience in particular still stands out in my mind, as I learned one of the greatest lessons of my life from people who were forgotten by the rest of the world.
The year was 1999: it was the end of the century and supposed end of the world, as well as the summer before my entrance into the next four years of pain and suffering that would be collectively known as "high school." At the start of my summer I thought how great it would be to spend my vacation time in an exciting, completely foreign place, but of course without fail, my parents awaited my arrival from the last day of school with large smiles on their faces and four round trip plane tickets to India in their hands. Their expressions of complete happiness, however, were met with my glare of complete and total apathy. Although many people would die for the opportunity to visit India, vacationing in the country of my parent's births was nothing new to me, and unfortunately most of my trips managed to bore my poor little ADD-ridden mind to pieces. As I gave my parents my look of disdain, memories of my past lackluster experiences from the past 14 years swam in my head: chasing chickens down tropical fields, analyzing the dust on my sandals while my parents babbled incessantly with close family and friends, throwing newspaper into the candle fire as I impatiently waited for the electricity to come back, etc. To put it short, I could imagine a plethora of better things I could do with myself. Even worse, my parents hail from tiny villages that are inhabited by people who manage to live without TV, computers, or a Dreamcasts or Playstation 2's (a feat that absolutely blew me away as a child) which made each trip seem like an unbearable eternity. The wrinkles in my forehead grew bigger as I grimaced unhappily, unable to think about my impending doom.
Upon seeing my lack of excitement towards the trip, my parents promised me that this time India was going to be "different, much different." As I pressed them for answers, they explained to me that India would be "exciting" and completely "new" experience this time around, since we would be going to North India for the first time since I was born. North India, in comparison to the agriculturally based South, are so drastically different from one another that it is hard to consider each end apart of the same country. Not only is the North far more industrialized and "Westernized," but the economic situation and levels of poverty are significantly worse. Although I saw no difference in going up North, thinking that my experience would just be as painfully boring as usual, I was forced to leave my country with a very heavy heart and 30 pounds worth of belongings that I hoped would satisfy my indifference. I sadly watched the twinkling lights of New York City disappear underneath me as we departed from the JFK international airport, trying to figure out what kind of experiences would await me at this new place. For a few brief moments before falling asleep during what would be a brutal 19 hours of plane riding, I smiled with the last shred of optimism I had in me, and tried to look forward to this new part of the country.
As I woke up during our landing into the Bombay international airport, any traces of hope for this trip within me shattered in an instant, as one of the most terrible views I've ever seen could be viewed from the airplane window- stretched across the runway were hundreds upon hundreds of homeless people, living in raggedy tents held up by small poles. The absolutely astounding view of the Arabian Sea surrounded by acres of luscious, dense palm tree forests that I was accustomed to seeing when landing in South India were instead replaced by filthy buildings, smog filled air, and water that resembled black tar more than anything else. Although being in the city's westernized airport provided me with some sort relief, the filthy, severely malnourished children who started to pull at my clothes and started to wail to me as soon as I exited the airport terrified me even further. Calling this place "new" and "different" apparently was a huge understatement, and I never longed to be home so badly.
After reuniting with family and friends who I've never met before at the airport, everyone (except me) collectively decided to explore some hotels to throw a "welcome to our part of the country" party for us. Seeing as how I had no other place to go, I was dragged along for the process of hotel hunting. After spending a good deal of the morning looking at hotel after hotel, we came upon a more prominent looking building at the edge of town which was actually worth our attention. Instead of touring the inside of building however, I decided that kicking rocks outside would provide me with far more pleasure. While walking around and surveying its perimeters, I ventured to the back of the building and peered over the small fence that separated the 4 star-hotel from the rest of the world.
And what a view it was. Dilapidated, pitiful looking shacks stretched as far as the eyes can see on top of what seemed to be a city garbage dump. What was most surprising about the site was that people actually dwelled in these pathetic excuses for homes: the putrid odor and filthiness became a way of life for them. After seeing my share of seeing poverty stricken people and muddy shacks earlier that day, I decided to walk away from the sight, but my trek back was interrupted by bursts of screaming and giggling.
I look over the fence again to see a group of children laughing and staring at me, followed by what seemed to be taunts spoken in their native language of Hindi. Being a Southerner and a speaker of Malayalam (the second biggest spoken dialect in India), I look at them with a confused smile and just simply stand there, not sure what to do. After trying to talk to me some more and probably deciding that I was an idiot, they laughed at me and ran away, chasing one another, playing in the mud, and running up and down piles of garbage.
For some reason, I kept standing there, finding completely paralyzed by some strange force. Despite the severity of their poverty, a genuine look of happiness and joy was affixed to each of those children's faces. They may have been covered in grime and looked very emaciated, but at the same time were so animated and full of life and all shined with a self effulgent glow. Even their parents, who looked completely worn out from work (and most likely from life itself), could not help but break a smile on their weary faces. Despite the fact that these little beings had nothing but the wastes of others to play with, in all of their minds they were kings and queens, and refused to let the world tell them otherwise.
Albeit their pathetic state I was completely moved by their glowing presence, and could help but feel a little jealous of them. As I stared at these mischievous cherubs in a state of complete awe, trying to figure out just how they could manage to be that happy, I finally understood why I was so flabbergasted by the experience: there before me stood paradigms of untainted, genuine innocence, one of the most beautiful and precious gifts of life that only a child could possess. At that moment all of my complaints seemed so petty, my unhappiness equally unfounded. I immediately felt very ashamed of myself for being so smug and negative, but at the same time I couldn't be happier, for the beauty of this experience and of my epiphany outweighed the feelings of shame and stupidity. I left that hotel and North India not only with a peace of mind, but also feeling so grown up and learned beyond my years. Those little sages, ignored and forgotten by the rest of the world, through their overwhelming innocence and magnificence showed me those brief moments showed me that happiness can be found by first finding the beauty within life, as cliché as it may sound. I'm forever grateful to them for this gift.
Even though I have not ventured into North India since this trip, every vacation in Southern India since then has been met with an overwhelming sense of happiness and fulfillment. I finally left my ethnocentric, condescending bubble and realized that through my moping and negative attitude, I missed the beautiful and amazing splendors that the country had to offer. I now am able to stand next to rice paddies that have been cultivated and cared for by my family for generations and feel a sense of belonging and pride. Going to thousand year old temples, running through busy city streets filled with autorickshaws and bulls, or just sitting on rooftops trying to make out constellations from a blanket of stars have now become something I love and miss, not tedious tasks that I once forced myself to do out of boredom. I now look at the inhabitants of my father's island and what people would consider their simple and uncivilized way of life and instead marvel at their unique ways of living. India truly is a beautiful place, but what makes her so personally beautiful are her people- those young and old who make up the soul of the country and taught me these important life lessons. Who knew anyone could learn so much from a group of little kids.

Full Name:  Elizabeth Newbury
Username:  enewbury@brynmawr.edu
Title:  Three Experiences of Beauty
Date:  2005-01-26 17:04:52
Message Id:  12255
Paper Text:
<mytitle> Beauty Web Papers On Serendip

A foreign tongue assaults my ears, as I stand miles away from home and family. We're pressed into a school room too small for our American egos, ambassadors into a country that had an organized government while the West was still a bunch of competing savage hordes.

In China, everything has a different texture but yet so strangely similar. It's like looking into a tilted mirror, a world where simple things take on an exotic edge. Small children race around us, dressed in clothes so similar to what our children wear, but with characters and cultural icons ironed into them that I cannot read nor understand.

While the teacher speaks to us, my attention wanders to take in the desolate courtyard. But before I can consider in full the significance of the run down playground with its squeaky swing, or even wonder how long the recess is on this side of the world, a tiny hand grabs onto my shirt and pulls. I look down into the eyes of a little boy, and he stares at me with a curiosity just like my own, mute. We regard each other through a chasm caused not just by the continental divide, and the question comes to my mind: who is under inspection here? Are the children on display, or are we the ones in the zoo? As his black eyes consider me unblinkingly, I am acutely aware that my presences here is an invasion into his world. I bring with me my strange hair, strange clothes, strange skin, and strange words. What right do I have to gawk at him?

He tugs on my shirt again, before reaching to my backpack to inspect it, mouth pursed like a disapproving grandmother. Nonplused, I give him free reign to tug at the pockets to my sack, small digits fumbling with the zippers and snaps A glimmer of what Margaret Meade must have felt when she interacted with the Samoans passes through my psyche. Thus distracted, I barely notice as he begins to tug insistently at the camera that hangs like a revolver at my side, the cord pressing hard against my neck as the mum child tries to grapple with my gawky Canon. I watch, entranced, as lilliputian fingers poke at the lens, pushing it open, trying to figure out the purpose for the plastic black box. Or perhaps simply trying to repeat what he had seen adults do. Did his family have a camera? Did he know what he was holding?

I lift the device, smiling, and capture his wide-eyed gaze with film. (1)(2)

This moment of understanding that crossed oceans, where words were not needed, was beautiful. Children are beautiful, for their innocence, for their insatiable need to explore the world around them. They are pure. This exchange would never have happened had the child been anything but true to himself. This memory would never have been made if he knew who I was, where I had come from, or understood any of the stigmas about the United States. He only knew that I was exotic, with funny looking things dangling from me that he wanted to touch. Years from now, I wonder if he will remember this exchange. I won't. Every time I look at the picture of him, I will be transported back to that hot summer day, to that slip of time where I was fully aware of the beauty of China.

That is beauty.

I have never had a more beautiful shower than I had one fateful day at Girl Scout camp. This not a small thing to say, mind you, because I love showers with the same fevor that most people love chocolate. I love taking them, I love singing in them. I love the smell of shampoo, the mist of warm vapor around me, the sensation of water beating against my skin, the way the world can rinse down the drain and the way I can feel both spiritually and physically clean after taking one. Where there's love there is beauty, and so it is with absolute seriousness when I say that there are few things I find more beautiful in this world than the simple act of taking a shower. So when I say that this is a memory of the most beautiful shower I've ever had, I am not saying this lightly.

We had to leave the beach early the last day of Girl Scout camp. Hauling in the canoes, storing the paddles, racing across the sand with bare feet to get our shoes, we were intensely aware of the storm coming. Thick clouds of the darkest grey imaginable loomed over the mountain, bearing down on us as we tripped over the sand to get to the jeep. As the engine rumbled to a start, we heard the first thunderclap. It was loud enough to rattle the windows.

Tires shrieked over gravel as the jeep made its way up the winding road. We grinned around, confident that we had gotten the better of Mother Nature, with the smell of sweat and the grime of a long week serving as our badge of honor. All five of us, tentmates, were looking forward to spending our last afternoon enjoying a well deserved shower. It took until we were at the top of the mountain, back to the campsite, to realize that lightening was not conducive to the shower house. Unless you wanted to get electrocuted, which the operators of the camp weren't exactly keen on. We would have to stink it out another day.

We thought Mother Nature tortured us.

Trudging through the downpour back to our tent, which happened to be the farthest tent from both the shower house, the road, and any other signs of civilization. It didn't help matters that the camp site was as far from level as one could manage, and our tent was at the very bottom on the downward slope.

We had mud to greet us at our doorstep.

We heard Mother Nature laughing at us.

Gloomily, we stood in our platform tent, looking out the wide open 'doorway', dripping onto the wooden planks beneath us with heavy shoulders. The rain brought with it a spike against the heat of the day, but this didn't make our defeat any more tolerable. It beat against the canvas top of our tent, ran down in torrents where the canvas met the wooden supports, surrounding us in a watery prison.

Mother Nature, I determined, was not going to have the last laugh.

Stripping out of my wet clothes until only my swimsuit was left, I grabbed my shampoo and soap and raced outside. I shimmied up the side of the tent, climbing the supports like some sort of obstacle course. After a bit of weaving around rope, I found my way to an intersection where I could find firm footing, and squinted through the rain until I found a corner of the tent. A steady river of rainwater poured down, splashing past my feet and adding to the giant mud puddle moat around our entrance. Thunder booming in the distance, Herbal Essence commercials flashing through my mind, I thumbed my nose at Mother Nature, lathered up and stepped into the stream.

It was at this point that I realized Mother Nature wasn't torturing, laughing or even frowning down at us. She was simply giving us a golden opportunity to enjoy one of her splendors. The water pressure was perfect, the water brisk and invigorating. The sounds of the forest around me a delightful orchestra, the distant rumble of thunder added harmony.

In short, it was the perfect shower.

It was so beautiful.

I love finding small nuggets of beauty in things like the child's curiosity, or the feel of good shower. Fresh strawberries, The Princess Bride on a rainy afternoon, sakura petals, the sound of my dog's bark when I walk through the door – all of these are beautiful to me.

Yet there is more to life than just the simple pleasures. Painting, writing, and other forms of expression are a different kind of beauty, but a beauty nonetheless. These are a kind of beauty that allow you to experience beauty on a journey created by another human being. And for me, music is one of the most beautiful ways of this way of expressing beauty. You cannot see music, but it will latch onto your mind and give you a vision. You cannot touch music, but it touches you. It can make you want to dance, hum along, smile, and cry.

A young soprano hits a chord I could not, even in my wildest dreams, hope to breathe. In the background, the chanting of the choir blend with the orchestra, weaving together to form a song light, ethereal, and bittersweet. (3) The perfect backdrop to a movie about Irish gangs in New York during the 1860's. But I am not thinking about the movie "The Gangs of New York" or Leonardo DiCaprio. I am thinking of another New York. It was supposed to be another day in Sociology class. I was at my desk, the surface cold against my open palms, my eyes glued to the television screen. We always started out with the class with CNN running in the background, while the teacher prepared for the assignments and students caught up on gossip. But the room was silent this day. Today, we were watching. We watched, over and over, as the World Trade Centers crumbled, as the Pentagon was turned to smoke, and a thousand lives were snuffed out. Our school was in lockdown, and course work was far from our minds. All day, we watched as the world we knew was lost. This is beauty.

But also frightening. What gives this song the right to transport me to one of my least favorite memories? More importantly, why do I continue to turn back to this song, knowing that the memory is as much a part of "Dionysus" as the Latin chorus? Why is it beautiful? I do not consider myself a morbid individual; it is not the death that attracts me. This song is beautiful because not only does it twine itself to that memory with its mourning chords, but because it is a lament with hope. We got beyond that day, this song reminds me. Cry, yes, and mourn, but also rejoice as you remember the way the nation united.

Remember the beauty of the human spirit.

Is there really anything more beautiful than that?


Little Boy.

We're surrounded.

3)Gangs of New York: "Dionysus", Song "Dionysus"

Full Name:  Amanda Glendinning
Username:  aglendin@brynmawr.edu
Title:  Beholding Beauty
Date:  2005-01-26 17:07:52
Message Id:  12256
Paper Text:


Web Papers
On Serendip

What is beautiful? Asking myself that I have so many specific answers, some shallow and some deep: a well-made pair of shoes, flowers in the garden, snow on the mountains, fine art, my family and friends. I realize though that each of these are beautiful because they create emotion in me. Because of this, beauty can be found in anything, whether it be familiar or not, simple or complex, or whether it affects sight or the heart. The emotions drawn out are the beauty. In this sense, even absolutely ugly items can be beautiful to me. How can something be both beautiful and ugly? How can it be complex and simple? Through this though, I also realize that beauty is indefinable. Really, how can one define something that encompasses so much?

For Christmas this year, my grandfather gave us all a book he wrote, Unforgettable Memories of a Lucky Man. 338 pages long, a month later I'm still reading it. Normally I would tear through a book that is so full of interesting stories, but this book creates so much emotion in me. A work of art, not because of the writing style, but because of the love put into it, this is one of the best presents I have ever received. My grandfather is not an emotional or openly-affectionate man but in this book he shows his love for his family.

In World War II, my grandfather was a marine flying in a fighter squadron off the Bunker Hill, a carrier. On one mission, anti-aircraft went into his cockpit and his plane went down and sank in three seconds. In his official report, Grandpa wrote "The water was cold and the air colder...My raft leaked and my pals overhead tossed another. The water was very choppy and made me sick. I had food, but no appetite. Three hours later I saw a Jap plane above, looked like a Nick. I put a blue cloth over my face and pulled the deflated raft over me to hide. The enemy passed over. I had one small paddle, but luckily the wind was carrying me gradually off shore." During this time Grandpa began praying and making promises, which he has followed through on. One of those, which he has taught all of us, is to help the less fortunate in whatever way possible. My grandfather's ordeal made me realize how life is one of the most beautiful things. Not only that, but living it fully, including helping others. I have always lived with these mottos, but never realized that I considered them beautiful until reading this book.

Grandpa has also taught us the beauty of family. My family is my backbone, and my parents are always there, teaching me how to interact with others. They taught me to judge, not based on appearance but on personality and soul. Despite this, I like to joke with people that I would not be friends with them if I could not look at them. This statement is partially true. It is not that I would not be friends with someone based on appearance, but as usually one's personality is apparent through presentation to others, I judge on that. Smiles or shiny eyes, while physically attractive, also let me see what a person is made of. My extended family, especially my friends, is made up of people I have connected to because of beautiful personalities.

My little brother and I, while three years apart, were very close when we were younger. He looked up to me and I dragged him everywhere I went. Our friendship, a very close bond, was absolutely beautiful. Until I was about seven or eight, my friends and I would insist that Jon play with us, usually in some form of torturous make-believe. My parents have a number of pictures of Jonathan, which I love, in my ballet tutus. Apparently, he would run around saying, "I'm pretty. I'm pretty!" I probably scarred him for life, especially when I lost interest in having a shadow, but I cherish the beauty of our closeness.

My family goes to CO, where we annually go on an evening sleighride under the stars. Every year, Jon and I would wish on the shooting stars we would see, sharing one lucky wish with each other. Usually, we would wish for something fun, when I was seven and Jon was four, we both wished for one baby for each of us to play with. The reason I remember this was because less than a year later, my mom had twin girls! Whether it was magic or hope, my sisters' birth was one of the most beautiful things ever. Jon and I loved our babies and helped take care of them. Now, with my sisters twelve and Jon seventeen, I still cherish the beauty of my relationships with my siblings. Not only are they outwardly beautiful, the girls with model looks of long blonde hair and huge dark eyes, and Jon with his girl-attracting blue gaze, but Mackenzie, Jackie, and Jon also radiate inner beauty.

Expression, specifically expression through fashion, is a form of beauty that I find appealing. While many outfits do not match or do not fit a person, the fact that someone feels he can wear it shows his opinion of himself. Be it shy or outgoing, vain or calm, a self-opinion affects others opinions. In seventh grade I was at a new school. The first day, I was shy but I was meeting a number of people. I remember one girl who had lots of frizzy hair hiding her face and she looked down a lot. Introducing herself she said, "Hi, I'm Caitlin. You don't want to be my friend. I'm unpopular." Caitlin's appearance symbolized her attitude, which probably caused her unpopularity. Caitlin improved through school and as she did, she opened up more of her appearance, becoming more beautiful to those around her.

Physical beauty can also touch on emotion. I love being in a new location, but I also love photographs, of people and places that I know. Yet also, I find beauty in the unfamiliar. New places are full of discovery, whether they be with picturesque landscapes or cozy restaurants with artistic nooks. This past summer, my extended family traveled through Europe. While I was awestruck by the beauty of such grand places such as the Sistene Chapel and Santiago de Compostela, I also found myself drawn to the simple churches seen in Portugal. Each place had pieces of classical beauty but they also had unadorned pieces which I found exceptionally beautiful because of what they meant. At Santiago de Compostela, there was a small statue, which people put their hands on and nodded their heads to in order to pray. Watching my aunt and cousin do this hopeful ritual made the statue one of the most beautiful things I saw in Europe, even though it was small and worn down.

This month-long trip had so many different aspects of beauty that I photographed over a roll of film a day. Photography is one of my hobbies, and in it I find beauty. This is partially because a photograph can transform even something normally plain into something exotic. Over the past three and a half years at Bryn Mawr, I have taken about twelve albums of photographs of my friends, the school, and scenes I've seen. These photographs might not all be very good, but they mean something to me and in that they are beautiful.

In essence, beauty is what a person makes of it. One person may find a Degas ballerina sculpture beautiful, while another might just see it as a metallic girl. Another person might find a dog beautiful but her friend might be scared of it and thus see it as ugly. In the online survey, there was discussion about the jellyfish. I personally found that it was one of the most physically beautiful pictures in the whole set. While some people agreed with me, a number did not see it as beautiful. One woman tried to put it in perspective by looking at how the jellyfish would have been in another position. Another woman tried to look at the jellyfish from the photographer's perspective. To me, it was about simple beauty, and what objects drew out my emotion.

All in all, I find the most beautiful things are what affect me more deeply. They might create sadness or joy, but they will create some type of emotion. My family and friends, animals and landscapes, there is such a wide variety of beauty in the world it is hard to narrow down what I find beautiful. To define beauty in only one sense limits the possibilities of beauty itself, disallowing a beautiful potential. Beauty is found in so many things, but especially relations. Friends and family make life important and those relationships are what make everything else, even physical items, beautiful.

Full Name:  Annabella Wood
Username:  annabellawood@yahoo.com
Title:  The Lightening Bolt
Date:  2005-01-26 17:26:14
Message Id:  12257
Paper Text:


Web Papers
On Serendip

Beauty comes from all different sources, or it could be said, beauty can be found anywhere. We expect to find it in such things as flowers, or nature, or the joy of friendly and romantic relationships. It is easy to find beauty in these places and they are often enjoyed. But for me the most beautiful experiences are those where I don't expect to find beauty, such as the fury of nature, or the ravages of a broken heart. So when I find beauty in things or situations I once thought ugly or frightening, the beauty seems more brilliant and it leaves a more lasting impression on me.

I once had the opportunity to walk through the experience of losing everything familiar in my life all in one day.

I had built a life filled with romantic love, great financial abundance and the feeling of complete security in this world. I was enjoying a relationship of more than 15 consecutive years with the same person. We had just celebrated our 15th anniversary with a large, opulent wedding in front of over 300 guests. Many of the wedding cards included the words, "Seldom have I been at a wedding where I was more sure that it would last." This echoed my own sentiments.

My partner and I owned three businesses together, and all three were money makers and we enjoyed working them together. We had no other income, for none was needed. Even in our spare time, we chose to do activities together, for we enjoyed each other's company. We traveled, worked, laughed and lived in a world of respect, love, abundance and security.

For the last 10 years of the relationship we had enjoyed moving along a path of inner exploration, each on our own, but knowing the other was there. We examined our motives for our actions, what our thought process was, and what emotions were elicited by what thoughts. We played with working with our thoughts and watching how our thinking affected our experience of the world. Though the process of inner exploration is definitely done on an individual basis, we often shared our findings with each other, and invited each other into the inner recesses of ourselves.

For reasons that are outside the scope of this paper, I woke up one morning to hear my wife say to me, "I love you, you have done nothing wrong, and I am through with this relationship."

I felt myself move into two different responses simultaneously. The first is the expected fear, dread and the feeling of enormous loss.

The second reaction surprised me, though it felt more real than the first, exhilaration and excitement.

I have often experienced the falling away of the old, familiar, comfortable but outdated, leaving a void, only to have that void filled with up to date versions of the old that are much more to my liking, often beyond my own imagination.

Somehow I contacted that knowledge immediately in this situation, and felt exhilaration at the journey that was now laid in front of me. If every void is a blessing, then the bigger the void the bigger the blessing. I was about to receive blessings beyond my wildest imaginings, for my entire life was now a void. I had an absolutely clean slate waiting for me to write upon it anything that I wanted.

My first three days after receiving this news were spent in this surreal state of exhilaration and profound peace like none I had before experienced. Some say it was shock. They may be right. But I picture shock to be a lack of feeling, and that was not my experience. I was super sensitized to the incredible joy of living in the unknown, knowing only that there were powers beyond my comprehension conspiring to give me everything I had dreamed of and more. And all the pieces of my new, improved life were moving to become my experience, freed up by the release of everything familiar to me, the release of my old life.

I couldn't see what these pieces were, or what life they would build for me, but I knew it would be current to who I am now, up to date with me, and exactly what I wanted whether I knew I wanted it or not.

Picture this against a backdrop of feelings of total devastation, betrayal, loss, fear, anger, and the feeling that nothing I had ever done in my life had meant anything at all. Absolute meaninglessness.

The sensation of experiencing such diverse emotions at the volume that I was living them was like being alone at night, deep in the desert, far away from any people or lights of any kind, and getting caught in an electrical storm. All is black, so black that no shapes can be made out by the eye. No stars, no moon, no rain, just me. Without warning a bolt of lightning flashes from out of the darkness, splitting the night, and lighting everything around me for 360 degrees. The jolt of power of the electricity as it sizzles and cracks, splitting the world open. The blackness shatters, completely disappearing without a trace. I am humbled instantly, dropping to my knees at this display of power, and my sudden realization of the verity that nothing I have ever done has had any consequence to the lightning. I stay on my knees and cry until my body is totally drained, and peace overcomes me.

The darkness of the surroundings represents the negative feelings I was experiencing. They permeated everything, making the next step on my path difficult to take. But I knew they would pass with time, like the darkness would pass with the rising of the sun.

The lightning represents the power that drives all life. It overcomes the darkness in a millisecond, completely obliterating it and rendering it powerless, even non-existent. And though the lightning only shows itself when it wants to, the electricity from which it is made is ever-present around me; in the air, in the water, even in the very molecules that make up my body. It holds what I think of as "the world" together. Without it everything would fall apart. Its power is so great and its presence so pervasive that I seldom see it or think about it.

And the promise was fulfilled. The first few pieces of my new life have come together, as evidenced by my presence at Bryn Mawr. The trappings of my life are nearly unrecognizable from those of just a short time ago. And I love every minute of it.
The whole letting go experience allows me to move freely in the world, not limiting myself in order to appear a certain way, or to impress particular individuals. I don't have to worry about my well being, for it is clear to me that something else is doing that. I don't worry about holding my molecules together. I just assume it is taken care of, and it is. So it is with the rest of my life. My job is to say thank you to whatever is taking care of me by enjoying the experiences made possible by its presence.

And with this as my only concern, this world is filled with beauty everywhere I turn.

Full Name:  Kara Rosania
Username:  krosania@brynmawr.edu
Title:  The Beauty of Love
Date:  2005-01-28 17:48:10
Message Id:  12294
Paper Text:


Web Papers
On Serendip

Love is beautiful. It is the mysterious force that binds people to those around them. It has infinitely many forms, and each of the forms never stays the same for long. Love is always evolving, and changing intensity. My own experience with love comes in many forms. I love many people, and many things, all in different ways. It can sometimes be ugly, but it is always beautiful.
I've had a fascination with love all my life. Ever since I was a young girl I fantasized about the romantic kind of love. I used to write stories about a woman that I some day hoped to be, and how she would find the perfect man for her, her soulmate, and fall in love with him. They would have the perfect relationship and never fight. I thought that was what love was supposed to be like, and why it was so special to people.
This idea threw me for a long time. When I first began dating, I was dead set on finding that perfect kind of love, and discarded any relationship that began to seem like it wouldn't live up. Finally, in looking at the relationships of others, I began to find that this form of love didn't exist. That didn't mean that love didn't exist, but the love I saw around me was a messier, more complicated version. And I couldn't find any two forms of love that were identical. Every loving relationship I saw had its own qualities and idiosyncrasies.
When I later began taking part in romantic relationships, I learned firsthand how imperfect love was. Still, it was exciting. Being in love is one of the most thrilling experiences a person can have. I was best friends with my first serious boyfriend for years before we started dating. It was amazing to me, and still is, how our love for each other could spontaneously evolve from friendship to romance almost overnight. It continued to grow and become stronger, and then became weaker towards the end of the relationship, but it was always love, and it was always beautiful. The ability to morph from one shape and substance to another is one of the most beautiful qualities of love. Even though the love I feel for my ex-boyfriend has changed drastically from what it used to be, what I feel for him is still love. I will forever be bound to him for being my first love, something that will never change.
When I first met my current boyfriend, we felt instinctively drawn to one another. I don't know if that's what people mean when they talk about "love at first sight," but there was definitely an immediate attraction. The second we started talking we had an instant connection, and found that we shared many of the same interests and values and ideas. That feeling that you get from meeting someone like that is an example of how beautiful and magical love can be. It is one of the most exciting things that you can experience.
It is so fascinating to me how you can go your whole life without knowing a person, and then when you meet them they just fit into your life and you can't imagine how you were ever without them. It is impossible to know where love comes from, or why, but it comes into your life and you make room for it. You are happy to accommodate it because of all the joy it brings you.
The love I experience now is very different from the kind that I anticipated as a child. Granted, I have not yet found my soul mate, if he does exist, but I still believe that that relationship will consist of the same conflicts and complications as all the others. That kind of love, though, real love, is much more beautiful because of its complications and uniqueness. It is something that exists and has never existed before, something that is constantly changing. Love is the purest example of how tied to each other we all are, as humans. We attract each other, we pursue each other; we become attached to and grow to crave each other's company.
Romantic love, as in all love, can certainly have an ugly side. I have never experienced a love that didn't come with its share of heartache. People forget how dependent they are on each other for happiness and aren't careful enough with each other's feelings. People who love each other are more capable of hurting each other than anyone. That power can be ugly, but power itself is beautiful. The fact that people have enough faith in another person, in the joys of love, that they allow themselves to be vulnerable to such pain, is a beautiful thing.
The purest form of love, unconditional love, is what I find the most beautiful. My parents love me unconditionally. It is so deep and unchanging, something that exists no matter what else happens in the world. My parents know me better, and longer than anyone else in the world. I probably know them better than most people too. There is something beautiful about that, about a connection that exists between people and will last forever.
Love can have varying levels of intensity. Possibly the most fragile type of love is that which I share with my friends. Friends are the quickest to lose sight of their love for each other, and because they have neither blood nor a declared commitment to each other, they feel the least tied to one another. This makes it difficult to get through the harder times during a friendship, and is one of the ways love can show its ugliness. My love for my sister, on the other hand, is a type of combination between the love of friendship and the unconditional love between me and my parents. It is certainly a complicated form. We hate each other sometimes; our love can turn ugly very fast, and change back just as quickly. We fall subject to that sense of insecurity that we won't always be there for one another, but at the same time know that nothing will ever prevent us from being sisters and caring about one another. I value the volatile love that I share with my sister, and the conditional love I receive from my friends, because they help me learn more about loving others and what it means to deserve the love that others give you.
Loving others is one of the best ways to become a better person. The love you feel arouses your curiosity and makes you interested in learning more about others, and as a result, the world we live in. When you love someone, you do everything you can to take care of them and try to make them happy, This often means sacrificing the things that make you happiest. Learning to be more giving and selfless is an incredibly beautiful thing.
I believe my obsession with music stems from my obsession with love. I write music myself, and I've noticed the songs that turn out much better than others are the ones about love. This can mean love of any kind, the love of other people, the love of life, love of nature, love of a hobby or interest. Love implies passion, and passion inspires beautiful music. When people care about things, they choose words and notes more shrewdly, and are able to create sounds that are entirely unique to that particular song.
As I love music, I also believe that the word "love" can apply to objects, places, and experiences. This form of love can serve as a sort of substitute for the love of others when one is all alone. Usually, however, I've noticed that my love of objects and abstracts tend to stem from my love of people. For example, I love the sound of the ocean, because it reminds me of being at the beach with my cousins. I love thunderstorms because it reminds me of crawling in bed with my parents, feeling absolutely safe despite the howling on the other side of the window. Our connections with people stem into all aspects of our lives, and make us feel loved even when we are not surrounded by those who care about us most.
Perhaps you might say that because I'm only eighteen years old, I couldn't possibly know that much about love. However, I think the wonderful thing about love is that it's something everyone can experience. As you get older, you certainly have more opportunities to love others and be loved. That doesn't mean that the love I feel, or that a five year old feels, is a no less accurate portrayal of what love is. It is whatever I feel it is, as well as whatever that five-year-old feel it is. Love, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
I think the reason that love is such a beautiful thing is because it is a lot like beauty itself. It is that unspeakable connection to certain people or things for unexplainable reasons. It is very abstract, can be hard to describe, and is something that everyone defines differently and applies to many different types of things. It heightens our emotions and makes us feel truly alive. People will never lose their fascination with it, because it is inside us all to feel it, to share it, to let it fill our lives.

WWW Sources





Full Name:  Katy McGinness
Username:  kmcginne@brynmawr.edu
Title:  Beauty in Solitude
Date:  2005-03-02 11:59:57
Message Id:  13340
Paper Text:
For me, beauty is an intensely personal experience. My very favorite songs—the ones that seemingly transport me to different times in my life and move me in ways that could only be described as spiritual—are those that I can listen to only by myself. The things that I find the most beautiful and meaningful would undoubtedly lose their essences in my mind if I had to share them with others. This may simply be because I am a private person who enjoys frolicking by myself in the sunshine more than attending loud, raucous parties. Or it may be because the things that I find beautiful are so for very idiosyncratic and personal reasons; in other words, the reasons why I may find something beautiful and meaningful are entirely different from why another individual may also find the exact same thing beautiful. Of course, this is true of everyone's personal preferences, but for some reason I have always felt that it is even more so, and perhaps even pathologically so, for me. For whatever reason, I am most comfortable experiencing what I consider true beauty by myself, free from other people.

Having said this, it should come as no surprise that the instance of beauty to be described in this paper occurred when I was alone. It was a balmy spring night in 2001, and I was not quite seventeen years old. I had just smoked a joint of marijuana in my car (not while driving, of course!), and needless to say, I was really flying. Setting aside the possible controversy for now, this was the first time that I had ever taken the drug, and it was an incredible experience for me. Much like the way that the Beatles' (along with many other bands as well) lives were changed and their music improved and became more mature after experimenting with LSD, I felt significant changes in both my physical and spiritual selves. Since I am most comfortable being outside (where I feel the most free), I went out into our large backyard and marveled over what was happening to me. Time had slowed down; at times it even appeared to altogether stop. For the first time in my young life, I was able to completely and utterly live in the moment; I would turn my head or turn around and be suddenly surprised at where I was. It was as if I was unaware of where I had been only several seconds prior, even though I was in the exact same spot. Walking was suddenly an awkward experience as each step I took seemed to exist independently of every other step; I felt much the way a marionette might feel when being made to walk, were marionettes capable of feeling. The world was spinning, not in a sickening or nauseating way but rather in a gentle, pleasant way. However, it was not until I put on some music that this newfound experience of time coming to a halt and my being aware of a spiritual side to my life really kicked in.

My favorite genre of music is classic rock, particularly the psychedelic hippie brand, and one of my many, many favorite songs is Bob Dylan's "Knocking on Heaven's Door." That night I put on one of my CD's that happened to have this song on it. The music then began with the three guitar chords strumming, to be joined by Dylan's moaning voice (as everyone who has heard the song knows); it sounded just like it always did. But once Bob started singing ("Mama, take this badge from me. I can't use it anymore..."), I noticed something odd. Why was he singing so slowly? It sounded as if the song were being run in slow motion. Was something wrong with my CD player? It suddenly occurred to me in my dreamlike state that my perceptions were skewed because I was under the influence of a narcotic, hence my experiencing the song as performing so slowly, and this only made me enjoy myself all the more. The song that normally only lasted well under three minutes now seemingly was going on and on for hours. I was overwhelmed with a new feeling of consciousness; with time slowed down so much, I was truly living in the moment, in the here and now. If asked at the time what I was planning on doing the next day, I would have been dumbfounded. For the first time ever I considered my place in the universe, realizing that I was just one of many, many parts of the whole. I thought back to those that had come before me, centuries before I was born. I felt myself transcending the physical world and becoming part of the cosmos. Other songs began playing on my CD. Suddenly Pink Floyd songs that I had always enjoyed but never quite understood made perfect sense. Lyrics that I had previously been unable to make out now presented themselves clearly. Most importantly, I felt like a new being upon taking the drug. I was seeing, hearing, feeling, and experiencing my life in ways that I had never before known were possible; my mind was opened up that night to another mental existence. To many such an experience may have been frightening, but for me it was enlightening and life-changing. I realized that night that the universe knows no sense of time, but that all is one; I realized that there was so much more to the world than myself; and I realized that I had the ability to become part of something so much larger than myself. It was therefore a very beautiful, cosmic experience for me.

If I were to have experienced this in the company of another person, I am not sure at all that it would have been the same. I think that part of what made it so beautiful and meaningful for me was how private and personal it was. I was able to relive parts of my life (the ones whose memories brought me the most pleasure and sweet nostalgia) and to expand my sense of being, both highly personal activities that surely were as incredible to me as they were because I was alone. My experiences of beauty have almost always occurred most successfully when I have been by myself (or at least when I am not around other people; I have had plenty of beautiful experiences with my dogs). All of this is not to say that I do not often value the company of others, as I definitely do, especially that of my family and my closest friends. But compared to other people (and particularly other young women), I would say that I value my private and personal time almost painfully dearly. There exist few things that I value quite as much or to the same degree. This experience was just one of a myriad of personal experiences of beauty that I have had, but I chose to retell this particular one because I feel that it is characteristic of the kinds of experiences that I find beautiful: personal, highly emotional, and somewhat cosmic and ethereal.

Full Name:  Beatrice Lucaciu
Username:  blucaciu@brynmawr.edu
Title:  The Beauty that Surrounds Me
Date:  2005-04-03 21:52:25
Message Id:  14258
Paper Text:


Web Papers
On Serendip

There is much in my life that is beautiful. I have been lucky enough to have traveled to several countries, seen wondrous sights, and met amazing people throughout my life. However, it is a rare occasion that something actually takes my breath away. This is not to say that I do not appreciate my encounters with beauty, but it appears that I reserve that kind of reaction for the truly exquisite. Frankly, I can only think of two things that have such an effect on me: my relationship with my mother and my love of music.

The summer before my junior year, I lived in Perry House with four other roommates. When we moved in, I immediately started cleaning and decorating my room. I wanted my space to be beautiful, a place to which I would love to return after being at work all day. I bought small pieces of furniture, painted an end table by myself, and hung pictures on the walls. However, it still didn't feel quite cozy enough and I was not sure how to fix the problem.

One evening, three of my roommates stepped out, leaving just two of us. Realizing that mostly everyone was gone, I decided to listen to some music at a louder volume than I normally would have if everyone else had been around. The music I had chosen was an album by Black Heart Procession. I began to feel more comfortable, more at-home. But as the sound filled the house, my roommate looked at me skeptically. When I asked if she was bothered by the level of the volume, she explained the real problem. "It sounds like creepy haunted house music." I concentrated on the music for a minute, as I tried to hear what she was hearing. Ultimately, I could not argue that the songs were a bit strange compared to most modern music. I realized that this music choice had seemed so perfect for me to play in a large empty old house. It felt like it had given my environment a sense of completeness.

Recently, I asked a few other friends to listen to Black Heart Procession in hopes that I would not be the only one to find their music beautiful. Unfortunately, no one has yet agreed with me. They have all said they find it "creepy", "depressing", and "strange." I would be lying if I said that I could not hear what they do, but I feel as though I experience so much more than they do when listening to this music. Others may feel depressed as they listen, but the sadness I hear in the singer's voice seems so pure that I cannot help but find it to be beautiful. The music itself is simple, and it is in that simplicity that I believe its beauty exists. Where others hear "creepy", I hear "haunting", but not in a horror movie sense. The truth is, I have never heard anything quite like this album before. Perhaps that is why I find it to be so beautiful. It sounds so unpretentious and unique.

Additionally, there are other works by other musicians that I find to be equally – if not more – beautiful. The first time I ever heard Jeff Buckley's rendition of "Hallelujah", I cried. I had never heard anything so moving. Again, I believe that the simplicity of this piece is what makes it so wonderful. He sings softly and delicately plays the guitar; there are no other instruments or voices. When I viewed video footage of him playing this song in concert, I was even more impressed. He appeared to be in his own world. It was evident that Buckley was no longer playing for the audience, but for himself – showing his true love of the song. It was a beautiful sight.

I have always felt a strong connection to music, even though I cannot play any instruments myself. There is nothing quite like finding a song at the right time that can express your emotions you are experiencing. The expression of emotions does not only lie in the lyrics, but the sounds emitted from the instruments as well. At times, instrumental music allows the listener to feel however s/he wants to feel because there are no words that might impose a certain emotion. For me, music is very personal, and it is not easy for me to share a song that is meaningful to me with someone else because there is a chance that s/he may not appreciate it. If that were to happen, it seems like a slight personal affront because I am so attached to the music to which I listen.

Although music is an enormous part of my life, my personal relationships are even more valuable. Most important of all is my relationship with my mother. When I was a child, I was a "daddy's girl" through and through. As I grew older, however, my need for my mother changed. She was no longer just there to take care of my basic needs and buy me things. She was becoming so much more to me.

My father and I had many conflicts during my adolescence. He did not want to accept that I was growing up, and I did not want to be treated like a child. My mother would often step in, explaining to each of us that we had to compromise. She told him that he could not stop me from becoming a young woman; she told me, in turn, that I was not yet an adult and, thus, would still have to abide by their rules. Neither of us wanted to give in, but my mother successfully calmed the waters for a while.

My mother has taught me so much about beauty. One of her great passions is gardening. Her vegetables are always the greatest because she's so meticulous in their care. Her flower gardens are the loveliest in the neighborhood because she exerts so much effort in maintaining them. Whatever her gardens produce, she shares with others – whether bringing fresh tomatoes to the neighbors, or just giving seeds from her flower gardens to her friends so that they can grow their own. I am always left with the impression that much of what she does is selfless. When she opened up her beauty salon, she would often have customers who were long-time acquaintances. At times, these customers could not pay her, and would not tell her so until after she had worked on them. She would just politely ask that they pay her next time they come in. I was always stunned by this because I could have never been so forgiving and complacent. I have always looked to her as a model of true beauty. From the genuine smile on her face to the stylish shoes on her feet, she exemplifies beauty inside and out.

My mother comes from a family of thirteen children. It was hard for my grandmother to form really strong bonds with her children because there were so many, and her attention had to be equally divided. Therefore, my mother and grandmother never had a very deep relationship. I know that she finds our relationship so much more beautiful because she was never able to have such a thing with her own mother. Sometimes it seems as though she is surprised at how honest and comfortable we really are with each other because there is no standard for comparison in her experiences.

My mother is, without a doubt, my best friend. There is very little that I have not told her about my life and my experiences away from home. When we call each other up for a chat, there is always something new to discuss even if it may seem mundane to others. We both look forward to spending time together even if just on the phone for a few minutes. Although I have made choices that perhaps she may not have made had she been in my shoes, she has nevertheless provided me with endless support and trust. I am forever grateful to her for everything she taught me and for the beauty she has shown me. She has given my family such selfless love; and for that reason, among others, she is the most beautiful person in my life.

There are other things in which I find beauty, but sometimes the feelings they evoke are fleeting. However brief the emotions I experience are when listening to a song, they have still affected my life in some way, even if just for a moment. On the other hand, the beauty I see in my mother is undying. Our relationship has not affected my life in a small way, but in a very important, permanent manner. I believe that if something is in fact beautiful, it will cause me to feel - whether those feelings be of joy or sorrow, whether they be permanent or passing.