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A pretty puzzle

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Topic: 4) A pretty puzzle (1 of 3), Read 47 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Barbara Wallraff (msgrammar@theatlantic.com)
Date: Thursday, September 09, 1999 09:39 AM

Mark Travis, of San Francisco, California, writes: "Beauty in ugliness -- like when a pile of garbage has all sorts of neat groady elements that combine into something beautiful. One has to be able to see past the fact that it's a trash heap. It helps to be inclined to actually seek beauty in such things. Piteous cries of wounded animals. Fingernails on chalkboards. Elegant filth. Those sorts of things.

"For a time I thought that there was a word for it. I thought that that's what 'sublime' meant, until I started noticing how 'sublime' was used and then looked it up in the dictionary. Do you know a word or another term to describe beauty in ugliness?"

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Topic: 4) A pretty puzzle (2 of 3), Read 30 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Karin Erichsen (magnhild@cheerful.com)
Date: Saturday, September 11, 1999 01:43 PM



Beauty in fingernails on chalkboards (aarghhh!): Masochism.

Beauty in the piteous cries of wounded animals: Sadism, or secondary
cruelty to animals.

Beauty in a scrapheap: a certain je ne sais quoi?


Karin.

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Topic: 4) A pretty puzzle (3 of 3), Read 15 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Brian Anderson (andersons@pdq.net)
Date: Tuesday, September 14, 1999 03:45 PM

Both ugly and beautiful things can be described as sublime, but not all beautiful objects are sublime, of course. The word connotes something that is overpowering or awesome to behold. I believe one writer described it as "staring into the face of God." The idea is that the face of God (at least as we imagine him to be) would have to be beautiful, but being that close to such a powerful being would be terrifying. The spaceships in "Independence Day," casting shadows across entire cities, conveyed the same kind of idea. Something that is ostensibly ugly (like a dinosaur) could be described as sublime, if it had this kind of majesty or power, but it's hard to imagine a trash heap as "sublime."


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