Beauty (book)  

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"The pornographic image is like a magic wand that turns subjects into objects, people into things—and thereby disenchants them, destroying the source of their beauty."--Beauty (2009)


"But this rehabilitation of sex leads us to raise what has become one of the most important questions confronting art and the criticism of art in our time: that of the difference, if there is one, between erotic art and pornography." --p3

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Beauty (2009) is a book by Roger Scruton.

Blurb:

"Beauty can be consoling, disturbing, sacred, profane," writes Roger Scruton. "It can be exhilarating, appealing, inspiring, chilling. It is never viewed with indifference: beauty demands to be noticed; it speaks to us directly like the voice of an intimate friend."

In a book that is itself beautifully written, renowned philosopher Roger Scruton explores this timeless concept, asking what makes an object--either in art, in nature, or the human form--beautiful. This compact volume is filled with insight and Scruton has something interesting and original to say on almost every page. Can there be dangerous beauties, corrupting beauties, and immoral beauties? Perhaps so. The prose of Flaubert, the imagery of Baudelaire, the harmonies of Wagner, Scruton points out, have all been accused of immorality, by those who believe that they paint wickedness in alluring colors. Is it right to say there is more beauty in a classical temple than a concrete office block, more beauty in a Rembrandt than in an Andy Warhol Campbell Soup Can? Can we even say, of certain works of art, that they are too beautiful: that they ravish when they should disturb. But while we may argue about what is or is not beautiful, Scruton insists that beauty is a real and universal value, one anchored in our rational nature, and that the sense of beauty has an indispensable part to play in shaping the human world.

Forthright and thought-provoking, and as accessible as it is stimulating, this fascinating meditation on beauty draws conclusions that some may find controversial, but, as Scruton shows, help us to find greater meaning in the beautiful objects that fill our lives.




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