Nine Strategies For Dealing With The Idolatry of Beauty: #2

#2: Lie to yourself about the attention (good and bad) that you are getting.

But truth will not be mocked and this truth—that all these people find you beautiful, even the ones that mistreat you—seems best pretended not to be there, because the moment you acknowledge it, a question arises: ‘What if—by being honest with myself, by facing the facts—I have to take responsibility for this “beautiful problem” I have? It might mean facing facts I don’t want to face, hurting people I don’t want to hurt (at least not now, not while the fun is happening or while the nastiness is happening). It might even mean hurting my pride or their pride. Yes, they would—if they were listening-in on this inner conversation—argue back that the reason I’m high up on all their social lists (or high up on their hate list) is not for anything so uncivilised as, I want her for myself.

But a thousand books and films have been made about it and the painful fact behind—for example —the ‘dumb blonde’ joke, is that we can’t cope with beauty and don’t want beautiful people to be smart, mature and insightful because then we have to face the truth of our own jealous pride and humbly abandon all attempts at manipulation. And they feel it from day one: the fact of our jealous intent to make them feel guilty about being beautiful. And worse, we (our society at large) implore them to let us play this dumb and stupid game for no other reason than to even-up what we perceive as an awful inequality that the universe has cruelly bestowed, or if not that, to at least take pity on us give us a piece of their action.

Nine Strategies for Dealing With The Idolatry of Beauty

The entertainment industry is so obsessed with beauty that many young men and women spend their lives trying to cope with both the embarrassment and the burden of such adulation. And beauty takes many different forms, so, for the purposes of this article, the definition will be widened and any much sought-after quality may be included in the ‘beautiful’ category. The list I have written is certainly not exhaustive but there seem to be at least nine strategies people use to cope with the problem, and these will be posted in next nine blog-posts.

Management Strategy #1: tell yourself a lie about your beauty.

An attractive young person will often will try to manage their problem by telling themselves they are not really attractive, even ugly. Hence the attempts to make the lie a reality with antisocial behaviour, dressing badly and self-hatred; or even tempting fate by ignoring the warnings of their friends and family—who often won’t just come straight out and say, ‘You need to face the fact that you are beautiful, which spells danger.’

The problem with lying to yourself is that it leads to deep, deep hurt. For example, an attractive woman (or man in fact) needs to recognise that there are some places where it is very dangerous for them to go for no other reason than the fact that they are very attractive. So—despite what they might think—they need to face the fact that they are the kind of person who turns heads, and to fail to accept this is not humility, it is a type of self-delusion, which will be put them on the road to all kinds of pain. Beauty spells danger: danger for them and those around them.

Honest recognition of this will mean learning to take precautions and cares that other men and women do not have to take: care with the clothes they wear, the places they go on their own and the way they look at others. In the Lord’s Prayer we pray, ‘Lead us not into temptation.’ Many have scratched their heads over why this is in there, but one ancient commentator makes the point that you simply cannot pray such a prayer if you yourself are in the habit of leading others into temptation by the way you speak, write, dress and live.

Love’s Weak Omnipotence

**

Sonnet

‘Dieu à établi la prière pour communiquer à ses créatures la dignité de la causalité.’ *

The Bible says Sennacherib’s campaign was spoiled
By angels: in Herodotus it says, by mice –
Innumerably nibbling all one night they toiled
To eat his bowstrings piecemeal as warm wind eats ice.

But muscular archangels, I suggest, employed
Seven little jaws at labour on each slender string,
And by their aid, weak masters though they be, destroyed
The smiling-lipped Assyrian, cruel-bearded king.

No stranger that omnipotence should choose to need
Small helps than great – no stranger if His action lingers
Till men have prayed, and suffers their weak prayers indeed
To move as very muscles His delaying fingers,

Who, in His longanimity and love for our
Small dignities, enfeebles, for a time, His power.

(C.S.Lewis)

* (Pascal)

** Photo by William Volkofsky [Great Wall of China]

Before The Night Comes

 

Before The Night Comes

Before The Night Comes

‘…would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?’ (Luke 22:48)

Called / out / to be / something doesn’t fit, no place for it
No way you’ll get a yes, only questions ’bout the mess
Please please please please please
Leave fires burning before you take flight
Vanish in the night / vanish in the n – i – ght.

I hear you talking all the time
I see you catch the eye of the blind
I watch you kiss like a lie, like a lie, like a lie.
Bowing and scraping, a slave in the making
Bowing and scraping, a slave in the making.

You / don’t / believe me
You think it’s alright to keep the peace
God help you to find release.

Lonely’s what you need for this kind’a seed
Quiet-lonely-dark, no face, no trace
Just a deep hidden impulse
So take-it and run
Run out where the fire’s lit
It’ll find its way home, it’ll find its way home.

Called / out / to be / something doesn’t fit, no place for it
No way you’ll get a yes, only questions ’bout the mess
Please please please please please
Leave fires burning before you take flight
Vanish in the night / vanish in the n – i -ght.

I hear you talking all the time
I see you catch the eye of the blind
I watch you kiss like a lie, like a lie, like a lie.
Bowing and scraping, a slave in the making
Bowing and scraping, a slave in the making.

You / don’t / believe me
You think it’s alright to keep the peace
God help you to find release.

Time marches on and the day is all gone.
Day / gone, day all gone
Stolen-lost-forever from a life made to celebrate this
Earth Mother’s child
All gone down the hour-glass sand / down the hour-glass sand
Day gone / day all gone.

Called / out / to be / something doesn’t fit, no place for it
No way you’ll get a yes, only questions ’bout the mess
Please please please please please
Leave fires burning before you take flight
Vanish in the night / vanish in the n – i – ght.

(Peter Volkofsky, 1997 [ed version 2014])