Richibi’s Weblog

Just another weblog

Tag: beauty

Lizzie Velasquez redefines beauty

Lizzie Velasquez is not only beautiful,
she’s also a saint, there are many, many
things we can all learn here

here is her recommended TED talk,
with even more things to learn


Nemo – “Ennead I” by Plotinus (14)‏

Date: Thu, 21 Mar 2013 16:37:42 +0000
To: Richibi’s Weblog
Subject: [New comment] “Ennead I” by Plotinus

Beauty, Goodness and Truth are a triad, but not all triads are Christian in origin or character. Belief in the unity of beauty and goodness is characteristic of the ancient Greeks, and Plato further demonstrate the unity of Beauty and Truth in Symposium. As for the “glorious” deities, their priests have no place or recognition whatsoever in Plato’s Republic, which is ruled by Reason.

Plotinus has changed my way of looking at art, which is commonly defined as a human activity. Since Intellect permeates the world, art is not limited to human, but even plants and flowers, though they are not sentient beings, are capable of artistic activity. To use an analogy, a choreographer consciously designs the dance moves, but the dancers perform the moves.without being conscious of the whole design.

Come to think of it, all human artists either imitate directly or draw inspiration from Providence. How can they deny the artistry of Providence, and then turn around call their plagiarism “art”?

A mirror, in so far as it is a mirror, enables us to look at the world from a different angle, and presents to us features that have been hidden before, but it is still a reflection of the multifaceted reality. Since you found transcendence, have you experienced anything for which there is no counterpart in this world?

you’ve gone off in so many different, doubtful
to me, directions, Nemo, I don’t know where to
start, then again I must sound ever the same
to you whenever I write, there’s apparently
much here we have to discuss 
but I think the central issue remains the 
possibility of a firm, which is to say, rational, 
understanding of the substance of our world, 
something you ardently affirm, but I, and the
demented” Nietzsche, incidentally, equally
fervently mistrust, even deem fundamentally
Descartes, by the by, remained on the fence,
he never found out what hit him, never realized
what he’d done, but began nevertheless in his
wake the irreversible march toward uncertainty,
modernity, which we dressed up in the powerful
attractions of science
we’ve come a long way from superstition,
we’re even presently on our way to Mars,
we’ve even discovered what’s being called
the God particle, but I think we’re still in
Plato’s cave with respect to certain
knowledge, we’re only seeing shadows,
we can never see the sun 
there is surely an underlying reality, but
you, I, we, can only imagine it, which is
why we’re still wondering what it’s all
about, despite having of course our
kids and building our houses, we are
compelled to invent our environments
with the tools that we’ve been given 
I don’t think animals and plants are
artists, we supply that moniker for
them, some of us, to describe what
we, some of us, can, but only really 
anthropomorphically, see, Fido will
never acknowledge himself an artist,
nor paint our picture, for instance, on 
his doghouse wall, no matter what
Plotinus might’ve said to the contrary   
where do I get my own, ahem, inspiration,  
I will admit, not from me alone, but that
doesn’t make me a plagiarist 
have [ I ] experienced anything for which
there is no counterpart in this world?“, all
that I have experienced is in my world,
unquestionably, I think it might have
some conjunction with the one you
call this one, but I’ll never be sure,
I can only suspect
all of this would be moot, Nemo, and indeed
many will think one could better spend one’s
time than at splitting these merely philosophical
apparently tresses, were it not for their
revolutionary consequences, men will kill, Nemo,
to preserve their god – not ever, note, the plural
here, never their “gods” – but their one imperious
divinity, in the figure of a man, by the way, mostly, 
their Platonically inspired Ideal, their Platonic, but
patently murderous, Absolute, I blame Plato for
that, not Nietzsche 
and I blame the Christian Church, furthermore, 
for distorting the Platonic Trinity, your beautifully 
rendered  Beauty, Goodness and Truth“, though
that’s something also, I think, of an anachronistic 
cheers especially ever

Nemo – “Ennead I” by Plotinus (13)

Date: Sun, 17 Mar 2013 19:04:56 +0000
To: Richibi’s Weblog
Subject: [New comment]“Ennead I” by Plotinus.
You wrote, “my experience is that I cannot know even dimensions before I formally deduce them,”

That is a unique experience. Einstein came to the same conclusion when he developed the Theory of Special Relativity, though perhaps he didn’t have quite the same experience. You both beheld the same underlying reality, although you expressed it in different ways.

Plato’s Absolute, i.e., which is Beauty, Goodness and Truth in One, is immanent. It is distinct but not distant from us, and every soul can ascend to it by reason and intellect. There are different types and levels of beauty, in the human body, in nature, in the universe, in science and art, literature and music. One doesn’t have to be a “Superman” to see beauty or create beauty. Every life is an artistic activity. Every individual is an artist.

The concept of Absolute by no means deny or diminish the freedom of individual existence. On the contrary, the more diverse and free the individual existence, the better and fuller it manifest Absolute Beauty. For instance, Beethoven’s Ninth, unless each member of the choir and orchestra plays his/her best part, the beauty of the symphony cannot be manifested nor experienced by the audience.

Unlike Kant who believes that the noumenal is unknowable, Platonists reason that the noumenal and the phenomenal correspond with one another (sort of like the way an image in the mirror corresponds to the original), since they are both derived from one and the same intelligible reality. Because of this “correspondence”, it is possible to do science. We have been able to predict with accuracy the movement of the stars and other events occurring in nature; Because of this “correspondence” between our consciousness and the outside world, it is possible for us to interact with other people and the world


you say, Nemo, “Plato’s Absolute, i.e., which is
Beauty, Goodness and Truth in One“, which
seems to me anachronistic, a premature
conflation with Christian, however implicit,
thought, I don’t think Plato would’ve had a
Trinity, whatever for in a society replete with
a variety of quite serviceable, not to mention
glorious, deities
when you speak of “[e]very life“, “[e]very
individual” being “an artistic activity“, “an
artist“, what about animals, insects, trees,
do roses perceive their own beauty, these
are lives, even creative, even inspiring ones,
though I draw the line at inspired, I suspect
they don’t consciously know it 
therefore “Beauty, Goodness and Truth” are in
the eye of the beholder, no, as we ask in
French, and the beholder is our own human
only, it appears, incarnation, blessed as we
are, for better or for worse, with
self-consciousness, ““Superm[e]n”” need
not even, but only superfluously, apply  
the Tree of Knowledge bore the fruit of
which all of us have partaken, for better or
for worse, by our very nature, and we’ve
created a poem around it in order to
it has been mighty, if flawed
about mirrors, when I yearned for word
from above, or from wherever, I understood
I’d have to forego my entrenched scepticism
under the influence of Sartre and Camus,
the Existentialists, whose ideas dominated
the Western World, and my university years,
however nowadays incredible, a time when
Van Cliburn, a Classical music pianist, 
would return from a sealed Communist
Russia, no less, to a New York ticker tape
parade, a more idealistic time than our
present more rapacious, morally bankrupt,
apparently, epoch, I’d believed in Being
and Nothingness, and the corollary Absurd,
I was alone in an indifferent Universe
to assume spirits, an extraterrestrial entity
who might be responsive, would require
an act of absolute faith, a profound
disorder in my otherwise determinedly
rational perspective
but I had no choice but to succumb to
even irrationality, I knew, for any chance
of grace, you need to believe in miracles
to experience them  
need I say that I found that transcendence,
I called it crossing the Bridge of Faith
where everything was the same but
different, Nemo, like crossing through a
mirror, like Alice, and discovering another,
infinitely more enchanted, however
numinous and otherworldly, world   

a poem without words

poetry: when Beauty touches Truth, producing
                incandescent transcendence 
                and an inadvertent, and privileged, view
                of the sublime
                just click

XXV. A heavy heart, Belovèd, have I borne – Elizabeth Barrett Browning‏

from Sonnets from the Portuguese

XXV. A heavy heart, Belovèd, have I borne

A heavy heart, Belovèd, have I borne
From year to year until I saw thy face,
And sorrow after sorrow took the place
Of all those natural joys as lightly worn
As the stringed pearls, each lifted in its turn
By a beating heart at dance-time. Hopes apace
Were changed to long despairs, till God’s own grace
Could scarcely lift above the world forlorn
My heavy heart. Then thou didst bid me bring
And let it drop adown thy calmly great
Deep being! Fast it sinketh, as a thing
Which its own nature doth precipitate,
While thine doth close above it, mediating
Betwixt the stars and the unaccomplished fate.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning


despite a rigorous rhyme scheme and a mostly
strict iambic pentameter here, which is to say
each verse is given five, or penta, metres, or
beats, where iambic means that the accent is
on the second syllable of each of those five
individual metres, ta-da, ta-da, ta-da times
five, should your Greek be understandably
amiss, Elizabeth still manages to skew the
pace of the piece again in this instance,
turning her poetry, as always, into a more
direct and purposeful prose

just try to follow the sentence metrically as
in a more traditional poem, or song, you’ll
block her headlong and unfettered propulsion

alteration of the beat is not much different
from what composers were doing then with
music, the early eighteen-hundreds, not much
different indeed at all, and which they did for
the very same particular reason, greater
authenticity, the truth part of the iconic
imperatives of beauty and truth

incidentally, where Elizabeth was trying to
invigorate poetry by giving it the apparent
immediacy of prose you might’ve noted
that in my own flurry of literary tidbits,
however ever so humble, I’ve been quite
consciously peppering prose rather with
the elements of poetry, for better or for
worse, but in my mind to reflect a less,
dare I say, prosaic, more inherently
enchanting, vision of the world


Xl. And therefore if to love can be desert – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

from Sonnets from the Portuguese

Xl. And therefore if to love can be desert…

And therefore if to love can be desert,
I am not all unworthy. Cheeks as pale
As these you see, and trembling knees that fail
To bear the burden of a heavy heart, –
This weary minstrel-life that once was girt
To climb Aornus, and can scarce avail
To pipe now ‘gainst the valley nightingale
A melancholy music, — why advert
To these things? O Beloved, it is plain
I am not of thy worth nor for thy place!
And yet, because I love thee, I obtain
From that same love this vindicating grace
To live on still in love, and yet in vain, –
To bless thee, yet renounce thee to thy face.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning


“desert” here, as in “just deserts”, to get what one
deserves, and not incidentally “Just Desserts”, the
sweets emporia, is an example of the affectations of
Romantic poetry that used to annoy me and turn me
away, so that I quickly lost my curiosity as to its
proponents, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Rimbaud, Verlaine,
Baudelaire, were all too ornate, and abstruse, obscure,
for me to see anything but artifice and decoration,
when I required clarity and direction as a young pup

here and there an idea struck a chord that would not
not reverberate, about Truth and Beauty for instance,
or They also serve who only stand and wait“, and of
course the plangent How do I love thee? Let me
count the ways
which had none of these infringing

it took me a while to understand that this was the idiom
of another age, that poetry could transcend its heritage
and become relevant



Aornus, I ask you, is a mountain in, of all places, India,
which Alexander purportedly conquered way before
our time

to “advert/To” is to refer to

despite these irritations, Elizabeth Barrett Browning
remains unexpectedly direct and even still poignant
in her self-disparagement, her self-abnegation, even
after eleven poems, perhaps because she touches,
beyond the idiosyncracies of self-conscious style,
masochistic maybe even neurosis, an underlying
true chord of love in all its quivering manifestations,
one of our major ever existential concerns


art and God

a friend asks 
       “Hi Richard,
        Just in case you don’t think I’m listening.
        Here’s a [YOUTUBE rendering] that I think illustrates what you so aptly  explained
        in [your reply to a friend] regarding the term ‘adagio’.
        On listening to the adagio
        pieces that you referred us to, they seem to suggest a leaving or going to “God”. At least ,
        that’s the sensation they provoke in me.
        What would you say to this?
all art, I believe, is a conversation with God, in undertaking to
create a painting, a piece of music, a work of literature, a poem,
all entirely abstract inventions, verily defined by their lack of
any utilitarian function, but imbued with merely intellect and
heart, which is to say, soul, the artist, anyone, has only two
impulses ever as instinctual guides, beauty and truth, beauty
and truth, concepts which when given essence and flight I
associate with a living God, any at least relevant God 
and I believe truth and beauty, therefore art, are the closest
we’ll ever come to knowing IT
so yes, “the adagio pieces that [I] referred [my friend] to, [do
indeed] suggest a leaving or going to “God”.” 
what do you think
psst: thanks E. 

the stone angel

these earlier “back tracks”, of which the following is one example, are pieces I consider still to be worth your while

please enjoy


for Greg, its champion

the stone angel:

miracles are of course in the eye of the beholder, like beauty, truth, and love

I remember being told by my mother about the wife of a cousin of my father, she was notoriously unattractive, indeed downright ugly, everyone said, her daughter later worked for my father in our family’s store, she was cheerful, industrious, and eager to be working there, one day when her mom came in her daughter called out to her mom as she entered, hi beautiful and altered forever my conception of beauty

miracles are also such entities, they happen in the heart and in the soul, without these there are merely serendipitous circumstances bereft of either reason or wile

but to the wide-eyed innocent still dazzled by the glory of a sunrise, the splendour of a sunset, the iridescent grace and beauty of a shimmering rainbow stretching its improbable arc across a sun-strewn sky, hot on the heels of routed clouds and blustering but receding thunder, miracles are a sign of heaven, the consequence, the stardust, of faith

we’d been headed out to dinner after a day of taking in Buenos Aires, making our way along one of its more popular streets, Avenida Florida is closed to traffic but teems with the to and fro of shoppers, tourists, merchants, and of course minstrels, entertainers, we’d seen a pair of men dancing the tango together for coins, each in a formal though somewhat worn-out black suit, young novices, a girl in black as well, in mesh, sultry hose, dark, beautiful and mysterious, stood to the side awaiting her moment, we thought they were probably students of tango, their steps were informed but not quite yet smooth and silken as the dance requires

Greg had been telling me about a mime who’d done magic for children, they would drop a coin into a box for her and she would then somehow make a light glow in their palm as she dropped something into it

I’d listened inattentively, making my way through the crowd instead, that flowed like a turbulent river all around and kept me alert especially to its currents

look, Greg said, it was a stone angel he was pointing at, a charcoal statue about the size of a man, the wings hadn’t been intricately described but they were the right size and spread convincingly above the reverent posture, the head was bent forward somewhat in prayer, the hands piously enfolded, a stone tunic fit the shape and turns of the heavenly body as though it were indeed cloth, the feet, the articulated toes, rested mystically upon the charcoal pedestal

I don’t remember seeing that there, I said to Greg, we’d been along that street before but I’d also always paid more attention to the traffic than the storefronts, and wasn’t unduly surprised that I’d missed maybe even this angel

do you have any change, Greg asked, I noticed a box at the foot of the angel, also charcoal, part of the sculpture, though I thought it strange in fact on public art

no, I said instinctively, careful not to squander my meagre pot, but when he asked again after I’d further considered, rued my initial ungenerous response, I dredged up a few pesos from an alternate pocket

Greg held out the coin to a little girl who stood nearby with her mother, offered it for her to take, whereupon she came by, accepted the change, then proceeded to the sculpture, and dropped the offering into the box for donations, then withdrew

but by then the angel had quivered, was coming to splendid life, and like a revelation had begun to unfold

of course this was a man, I understood in the very moment, but a man in the guise of an angel, which of course is an angel in the guise of a man, for where does the line begin or end which divides them

with a wave of his hand he beckoned the little girl back, she returned and in her palm which he held in his own blessed hand he bestowed a gift, which didn’t glow, I incidentally thought, but must nevertheless be wondrous

already I quivered, frozen in awe, but quaking like a leaf in a mystical wind

the little girl turned around to Greg, held out the gift in her little palm to give it safely and dutifully back to him, but when she opened her hand for him to retrieve the holy thing he merely touched it back again enclosing it there for her to keep, the act itself of another angel, spontaneously selfless, selflessly spontaneous, munificent

by this time of course there were tears in my eyes, I’m a sucker for the acts of angels, but the angel himself had been observing the kindness being proferred in his name, he signalled Greg over and bestowed upon him a gift which again he retrieved from a breast pocket stitched in the stone above his heart

Greg returned with a miniature silver crucifix that gleamed and glistened in his palm, not a glow, incidentally, but an incandescence, and indeed wondrous

but the angel was not about to leave me out and beckoned that I might too receive this blessing so that I advanced to receive also my little cross, he must’ve recognized my fervent admiration, my dumbfounded awe, and would honour me also, I gathered, with his favour

others followed suit, deposited their pesetas, received their little crosses from an always consummate angel, calm, poised, respectful, and profoundly inspirational always, until the wave of them wore off

I still quavered as though the earth had moved, like any creature stunned by for instance lightning, like any one of us before a force of nature starkly and grandly manifested, there is so much we overlook

but driven by finally logic and the practicality of moving on – even mystical experiences are finite – we wended our way forward toward our dinner out, but only a few yards on, meters if you will, out from where we’d had our visitation, I felt I’d left something wholly unfinished, wholly unsaid, asked Greg to return and with me, for me, tell the angel he’d been miraculous, magnificent, that I’d been so very much inspired, in Spanish, for all I could speak was English, and Greg was versed in their tongue

in his ear Greg spoke a fervent Spanish, he’d been there too, was also eager, I slipped a larger, more appropriate amount, I thought, into the coin box, more in keeping with the experience

but the angel didn’t move

he probably didn’t hear, Greg later pointed out, paper won’t sound like change will

but unresponsive to Greg too, I’d wondered, who’d poured his Spanish heart into the angel’s ear, maybe wax from the makeup, he’d thought

for a moment then the angel remained a sculpture, still, and in character, and of stone

then with deep generous eyes that slowly he opened, heavy with the weight, I thought, of maybe the very world, he peered deep into my own

beautiful, I responded, beautiful, the only word I could utter in exalted admiration

then in English, clear and reverberant, like an oracle, I thought, for us all to understand and behold, he replied, simply but wondrously, cryptically enough indeed but with great portent, thank you

to which I could only add, amen