The impassive power of beauty


Judith after beheading Holofernes (1840) by August Riedel

How big a role does beauty play in my life? Not as big a role as I’d like but without it, I couldn’t bear to live. Whether it be just a beautiful face on the way to work or the fantastic sexual power of someone on the subway, beauty makes life worth living!  Truth be told, I’ve lost count the number of times that I’ve circled back to take a second look at someone more beautiful than words can describe.

I used to think of beauty as a totally passive thing. In fact, my friends will tell you that I used to say that beauty was an accident. It was simply the perfect yet accidental match of chromosomes… beautiful parents = beautiful children.  Actually, it’s not that simple.

Artists have always seen and used beauty as more powerful than a sword, than an army, than the forces of nature. Artists see beauty very much as an active, dynamic force… aggressive, taunting, powerful and relentless! Just look at the great trajectory of Western art with all its depictions of beauty and its magnificent power. As a young man, I was always fascinated by Salome, Delilah, Cleopatra and Helen of Troy, said to be the most beautiful woman in the world. And look at the beautiful Judith above who just beheaded Holofernes, whose head can hardly be seen in the lower left-hand corner of the painting. Triumphant with her hand on a rather suggestive sword, Judith used her beauty to get into Holofernes’ tent and behead him before he had time to invade her home, the city of Bethulia.

And let us not forget the men… the beautiful, younger Alcibiades who invites Socrates to dinner and tries, but fails, to seduce him. Alcibiades is looking directly into Socrates’ eyes but Socrates appears to be looking at Alcibiades’ naked body, avoiding his gaze.  In fact, Socrates looks lost in his thoughts… perhaps remembering his own youthful body or just wondering if he should give in to Alcibiades’ so blatant sexual advances, his robe draped over the chair and his soft skin begging to be caressed.


Socrates and Alcibiades (1816) by Christoffer Wilhelm Beckersberg

And no one knew more about the in-your-face power of beauty than old Hollywood. Although late in that great period of glamour, look at Marilyn Monroe and Marlon Brando… her, so beautiful that John F. Kennedy, Joe DiMaggio and author-genius Arthur Miller fell like flies. Him, with such sexual charisma that both women and men slept with him… a charisma so strong that even he seemed to despise its power later in his life.

Brando, Marlon_25

As for perfume, we are all looking for the perfect, beautiful scent that will turn heads and have strangers perhaps circle back to take a second look… or sniff… 😉

Back soon with a perfume review.

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  1. Normand, your posts bring me so much pleasure . I forgot I had subscribed and just chanced on one in my email. Ah, sigh, as an artist and a perfume lover I love your words and sentiments. Thank you

    • Hi Julia!

      Isn’t that nice of you to take the time to write to me. Sometimes I’ll write something and not hear from anyone and I think, “Man… I must be so far out in left field on this one!” And then I get a comment like yours and I figure… well, at least someone agrees.

      Let’s drink to beauty!


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