The Infinite Beauty of Woman!

Back in the day, in classical Western art, the presence of the female symbolized divinity and purity. The female form is a work of art and perfection (“woman – perfect in her imperfections!”) so it figuratively was a centerpiece for a lot of the ancient and old masters. With modern art, we first saw movements toward landscape, then later expressionism, and then later again, woman becomes a purely erotic symbol. And this time, in the modern empirical sense: she’s not just the divine or the vision of the infinite. She’s the vessel of infinite erotic pleasure, the only reason for life in modern times (a generalization, sorry!).

Interestingly enough, in Japan there has been pornography since over 1,000 years ago. And it wasn’t considered necessarily filthy the way it is in the West (which might have changed with the internet, since apparently “everyone” looks at it). And in China, where art has largely been influenced by Daoism — with classical structures venerating isometric landscapes and calligraphy forms, the female form was not really artistically emphasized until China’s westernization and modernization (19th century).

That kinda sucks for (almost) two reasons, if we look at this from a position of an modern existential crisis. First — Chinese and Japanese societies are typically more formal and more patriarchal. Which makes things weird, because the female form has to be introduced slowly, is not a romantic staple of the arts, and immediately is relegated to objectification. So the second reason is that — the female form only appears in (mainly Chinese) art right around the period when the country is going through commercialization. Hence, objectification again.

Now, call me crazy, but modern, skinny, scentless, pale models seem a little uninteresting when compared to chubby, uh… scented, pale ones from the European Renaissance. My intent here is not to perv around, but to ask whether patriarchal society, culture, civilization always viewed women in the classical romantic sense until modern times. My guess is that old paintings of women as being the pinnacle of perfection were the romantic musings of aristocratic patrons and educated stoics. And in modern times, that’s not as lucrative an image as one based on pure lust and desire.

Historically, only the loftiest of concerns and ideas of the nation were committed to record. Today, society commits to record anything that can spin a profit, regardless of its moral integrity (for the most part, but there are fortunately still a few exceptions). And you know what spins a profit? Aesthetically enhanced hot babes! But it’s not a contemplative kind of desire being spun, it’s based purely on animal pleasures.

And it’s not just marketed to guys; women are manipulated by the image of feminine beauty too, by being sold on the idea that they need to achieve some kind of ridiculous, surreal level of perfection in their looks to appeal to men. Which is obviously nonsense.

So I’ll break this down for you: Woman’s western cultural image has largely been reduced to some kind of pornographic image of lust and desire. You can argue that things like ballet and opera don’t do this, but these are classical traditions which have not progressed in years — they’re like museum pieces. A lot of art that comes out now: theater/film, music, fine art — it views woman pornographically or is given from the perspective of a woman who satisfies herself with power over men or others (see those “sugar daddy”-type networking sites!). I don’t think either one is any kind of progress.

And as I said, commercials sell some kind of totally false image to men and women, which even if broken down and discussed, has still embedded itself in the public consciousness, and forced society to depend on products that use the image. Now, people create society and history based on what they buy, which is a scary thought in a consumer economy that is not contemplative and has no time to be as such.

Sometimes women say that men are dogs. I think it’s largely true: men are weak, but have strong desire. But without this blind desire, things wouldn’t conditionally exist. This is why one gives up desire to be fully realized and why there’s all this sexist stuff in religious doctrines saying a man is the one who becomes fully realized.

A woman lives a lonely life. And things exist because of desire. Maybe the universe is a chauvinistic illusion? And don’t misinterpret my views as sexist, because I love women more than the next guy. Enough to never hurt them again.

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2 Responses to “The Infinite Beauty of Woman!”

  1. I really appreciated this essay. I am an artist and grapple with this all of
    the time. I am a straight woman and mother but have no time for the
    trappings of femininity imposed by today’s weak standards. It enervates
    me. But I do have to say that I am very influenced and cannot get away
    from it. I objectify any and all when I draw or paint, temporarily but
    I see that as different from commercial art. It is observation and articulation
    without any mediation but from the universe. As soon as commerce
    interferes with my process it is all lost. But we live in a world where
    all of that is still necessary also to survive. I am glad to have read your
    essay but do not have any complete conclusions.

  2. wizardsmoke Says:

    Hey Amy, I’m glad my musings could be of some interest!

    I don’t have a whole lot of experience with academic art theory, otherwise I could maybe elucidate these things better. But then again I have a feeling that theory is like other liberal arts, in that they have no concise answer for existential questions.

    My frustration with existence has always been that, as soon as one acts or speaks, the moment and truth is lost to analysis and hind-sight. And I think desire functions on these premises…that concentrating on objects of desire destroy awareness (truth) but can be powerful vessels for one’s belief. If that makes any sense…

    It would seem that classical art is trying to contemplate the mystery of desire and feminine beauty, whereas commercial art has absolutely no reason or intent to pursue this.

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