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March 4, 2012 | by  | in Opinion |
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Editorial – Beautitorial

When at primary school, [one of the coeditors] would often receive a peculiar taunt from the other children. In cruel chorus, they would sing: “U-G-L-Y, you ain’t got no alibi, you ugly! Aye, aye, you ugly!” At the time, he wept profusely. Now, he just weeps quietly. During one recent deluge of tears, he stopped and a series of thoughts crossed his mind. He asked: am I actually ugly? Can anything really be ugly? Am I beautiful inside? The answers to the questions were, in fact: yes, yes, and probably not. Though answered, these were some interesting questions. Interesting enough at least to devote an issue of Salient to!

Because, you see, the thing is, we care quite a lot about these kind of things. We care how we look ourselves, how others look, and even how our life as a whole looks from the outside. It’s care of this kind that makes us wear certain clothes, makes us hang certain things on the wall, and even makes us listen to particular music and read particular books. All of these are behaviours motivated by a concern for a certain quality we call beauty. And it’s something that matters to all of us.

Indeed, it’s because of beauty that many of us are at university. Most obviously, those of you who study design or architecture are explicitly learning how to make beautiful things. But it’s not only the artsy crowd. Slightly further out, much of the humanities are all about finding what’s of value through some assessment of beauty. Powerful words, elegant theories and accounts of history are all beautiful in their own right. And even in the sciences and mathematics, this is true: who would deny that the search for truths about our world is a search for something beautiful?

But that which is truly beautiful is hard to come by. And when you do find it, whatever it may be, knowing what makes the thing beautiful is even more tricky. You see, high cheekbones are said to be beautiful. Likewise long legs. But there’s more to beauty than that (apparently). An honourable life could be described as beautiful, even if the person who lived it had sub-par cheekbones and no legs. These are difficult questions to answer, as we unfortunately discovered while putting this issue together.

The more difficult the question, the more important the answer.

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About the Author ()

Ollie served dutifully alongside Asher Emanuel as Co-editor of Salient throughout the tumult of 2012. He has contributed to Salient since 2011 and intends to do so for the rest of his waking life.

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