With the release of The Great Gatsby – which I am so excited about I could cry, I love that book and I love Leonardo DiCaprio so even if the film doesn’t do it justice, which is the curse of the book-to-film adaptations, I am sure it will still be an AMAZING movie. I’m watching it tomorrow. AHHH!
…Apologies, went off on a tangent there. My excitement clearly can’t be contained. As I was saying, with the release of The Great Gatsby I have been thinking about the word beautiful. I have been thinking a lot about beautiful and what it means and what it stands for, to me. I think Fitzgerald would agree with my very general conclusion that when I think of beautiful, the first split-second reaction is empty.
It sounds obvious because we all know that beauty – at least physical beauty, which is the one we all think about when first confronted with the word – is superficial. I spend a lot of my spare time staring at beautiful images, reading words that paint beautiful scenes and daydreaming of all the beautiful things I can do.
But, when I think of beauty and the word beautiful I don’t really feel anything at all. It doesn’t fill me with anything – not longing, not happiness, not sadness – nothing. It is just a void, an empty word because it doesn’t really mean anything at all.
I like to think that Fitzgerald thought the same thing. He appreciated beauty but his words and sentences and paragraphs and books, multi-layered as they are show, that beauty is empty. He writes in layers to hide the emptiness of the beauty and in doing so, makes beautiful seem hollow. That’s how the word feels to me.
Obviously I find beauty in things that fill me with joy but they are not necessarily beautiful. Or at least not the beautiful which we hold in such high regard in our capitalist society.
Beautiful is a little like a photograph that shows one tiny split second of a moment and nothing else. It is one dimensional and a peep-hole. It isn’t a feeling and nor does it evoke a long-standing one. You may say wow at something beautiful or be struck by a beautiful thing or person but that feeling is fleeting – it disappears and fades. It does not provoke anything for me.
There are many beautiful things in my life but they are more closely rooted with love, admiration, inspiration and hard work than they are with the actual word beautiful. And I think there’s some beauty in that.