[ Welcome to the first in a short series by contributing authors in which the concept of beauty is examined for how it relates to the individual person. We hope you enjoy - Kit, Editor-in-Chief]
When we speak about beauty in the modern day, it carries with it an intangible goal.
There is arguably, no greater word which can so quickly instill into the listener a sense of the un-achievable. Beauty has been touted as a category on websites; a catch-all term for fashion, makeup, style and more. It is therefore something which is presented to us constantly as a measure of success. You read beauty articles to learn tips and tricks and secrets which will help your hand reach further so as to one day, perhaps, finally grasp at a label that thus far has seemed to constantly be one step ahead.
The definition of beauty which has been handed down to us, society has morphed into this- something closer to sublime. As a result, the idea of beauty has become a feat of such excellence that it inspires awe. It too, inspires envy, anger, frustration, rage, adoration, love, obsession, depression, determination, and disappointment.
But, you may ask yourself, I am reading a magazine which prides itself on the beautiful. And yes, dear reader, you would be right.
Here at Mythridate we celebrate beauty. We celebrate the sublime. But we raise that lofty word higher, onto loftier platforms until it becomes an obsession and something gilded and glimmering.
And we do so proudly.
This is because to us, beauty is a philosophy, not a category or a market. In the same sense as no one can be truly good, nor truly evil, no one can be truly beautiful. There is nothing in this world which every soul can witness and deem beautiful, no matter how much lipstick or perfume it wears, or the color you cover it in. There will always be someone who hates sunsets. Someone who prefers wheat stalks to roses. Someone who loves the stainless steel over wood or brick. This is why the familiar saying, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, has been quoted relentlessly throughout its inception. If there is but one truth to beauty, it is that it cannot exist truthfully.
Yet still beauty is powerful. It strikes fear into our hearts as much as love. But I want to take you back a step further. As someone who too often, focuses solely on the physicality of a thing, a word like beauty can likewise be limited to places it should not. After all, as Wilde once said, "No object is so beautiful that, under certain conditions, it will not look ugly." This is the secret to beauty. It is ephemeral, and dependent entirely on you, and your soul, and your perception of the world. Beauty is not a categorical term for makeup or the skincare industry, but rather it is a way for you to connect to your surroundings and more-so a way of understanding yourself.
So for a bit of an exercise, I invite you to write down five things that seem to capture your eye. Things you never fail to find beautiful. Below, are mine.
1) Teal (Peacock Green) 2) Rococo frames 3) Pearls 4) Old Leather-bound books 5) Smoke trailing up from candles
Now if you're like me, the further down the list you went, the harder it was to think of something. In a sense, the beautiful things got more abstract. Perhaps for you they did not. Let's delve deeper. Take those five things, and ask yourself where you encounter them. Try and list no more than five places (although one is okay)
1) My bedroom, the ocean, velvet sofas 2) Museums, antique shops, my favourite bar 3) Elizabethan jewelry, my fiancees necklace, paintings of old merchants 4) Archives, antique bookshops, university, Iceland 5) Church, home, late night wine tastings, Christmas, Denmark
Excellent. Now read that list, and write down what you feel when you think of those places.
1) Peace 2) Pleasure 3) Satisfied 4) Quiet 5) Hyggeligt (coziness)
Here is the essence of beauty to you. Your own, personal connection with the concept we all so adore. For myself, you will see there is a notable theme of 'quiet'.
What I consider beautiful are the things which provide for me a sense of calm satisfaction. I like the colour teal because it makes me happy, but beyond that, I put teal in my bedroom, where I go to rest and work, and my favourite kind of ocean is one with grey skies and a deep teal color that reminds me of staring out over the water in Iceland, or my time spent in the coastal Pacific Northwest. In short, teal makes me happy because it is found in places that give me a feeling of peace. The only outlier is the velvet couch, which for years I used as a measure of success. But still, the image that comes with it is of me curled up in winter clutching coffee. Go one step further and my sense of pleasure is connected with quiet but ornate places. Places dripping in history. Pearls are satisfying because they remind me of my fiancee, and of pearl earrings in paintings which are, again, quiet places of comfort. My favourite bar is historic, where the average age is 40 and has been in operation for over a century. Quiet, describes my time studying manuscripts in Iceland, and Hyggeligt, a Danish word, encompasses precisely that sense of joyous comfort that comes over me when I'm surrounded by candles or incense. I love it so much I have the motif tattoo'd on my arm. Candles and those twirls of smoke are found in old churches or blowing out birthday candles. They're the tealight getting snuffed at 1 am after two flights of local Pinot Noir and laughter with friends. They're found on windowsills in the holidays and remind me of Copenhagen. Because no Danish home would be caught dead without a half dozen candles. Ultimately, those beloved whisps of smoke are found in places of intimacy and once again, surrounded by a notable hush.
To put it simple, beauty is what calms me. And visa versa.
For you, what is beautiful could be the sun on floorboards, or glitter after a night at the club. It could be the contrast of cream being poured into cold brew, or the lavender filled landscape of Provence. Beauty could be what excites you or makes you feel alive. It could be something that motivates you, or pushes you. There is no right or wrong way to find something beautiful because ultimately, it is a way that your soul is expressed in the world. As we change, and grow older, our sense of whats beautiful changes too. It is not a static concept, and more-so, it is not something which can be encompassed by any certain industry or section of a department store.
At least not fully.
And certainly not satisfactorily.