Toward a theory of beauty (part 2)

This past Tuesday I noted a couple of things about beauty.

First, my experience suggests that the phenomenon of beauty is a highly composite thing. Second, there are a couple of visual factors that account for a lot: physical form, and visible style.

But, both of those factors are perceptible merely from a distance — a man can get his bearing about these without ever saying a word to a woman. Today we’re going to keep going, and I’ll try to address the kinds of beauty that become visible when the two parties draw a bit closer.

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3) Carriage

Something more gets revealed when we cross a room and share the same space with a woman, whether alone or within a group. The something-more is the next layer we encounter: how a woman carries herself. By this I mean simply her deportment, conduct, her set of habits and nuanced behaviors. They can be welcoming, challenging, confusing, enticing, charming or profoundly weird.

What I mean by this word carriage essentially is the sum of all her behavioral traits, and the impression that they together create.

For some men, the presence of wit and quickness is irresistible. They reveal an inner agility, a nimbleness to this woman that is deft and alluring. For other men, body language is powerful, and the posture of a woman as she moves through the room is all that is necessary to draw his attention toward her striking confidence and elegance. Still others look for the patient woman, the one who is focused carefully on the person with whom she is speaking, listening and receiving and responding with an incredible degree of attention, gentleness, and grace — and those are the things that this man might seek.

Sorry, I’m struggling to define this one with more precision or coherence. Somehow a woman’s carriage is above and independent from a list of her individual personality traits. There is something electric and holistic that results, which is more than the sum of her constituent characteristics. Whatever it is, I believe this phenomenological consequence of all her small mannerisms and patterns is precisely the thing that continues to draw a man in. This ongoing expression of her heart is the most accessible and frequent expression of her interior beauty. Perhaps that’s all that I mean.

Speaking of interior beauty, we’ve arrived at my favorite part …

4) Fluency / Passion

I have written about this before. At the center of every woman, there is something pulsating and lively, which for most people is only made visible and manifest in bits and spurts. These hints toward a woman’s core, I believe, are what ultimately beckon a man to continue to chase, to pursue, to be fascinated and enamored and mystified by her.

I use the word fluency because this inner liveliness is most easily visible when a woman is doing something in which she is truly at home. She dances, she sings, she administrates with ease, she defuses conflict, she counsels tenderly, she dreams great big dreams, she heals people with her hands and her words — any of these things. What we see when a woman does these things is an astounding effortlessness, a grace and efficiency and ease and wide articulate expressiveness, all of which emerges from some deep place inside her. This part seems to say “Yes, this is what I was made to do”.

And when we see that deep place speak, it cries out to our own deep places, and we are captivated.

I use the other word passion because fluency doesn’t nearly cover all the depth to be found down there. Sometimes the interior parts are made known not gracefully, but painfully, awkwardly, or with great cost. Sometimes the song that emerges is not a flowing ballad, but instead a scream of indignation, a cry of pain or remorse, a sigh of deep frustration or surrender … or sacrifice. It is in these moments that we see not just the astonishing fluencies of a woman, not just where she feels comfortable … but where she feels scared, challenged, confronted, broken … and redeemed.

In these rare and powerful glimpses, we see what a woman is truly made of, the true substrate of her soul. And again, deep cries unto deep, and we stand thunderstruck by the courage that we have witnessed. And that, too, is deeply captivating.

And captivating is crazy sexy.

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Sometime in the next couple of days, I’ll wrap this up and try to point out some implications and useful case studies. Thanks for following along.

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