If you know me at all, then you wouldn't be surprised to read that I'm a fan of movies like No Country or Assassination of Jesse James. Now, to explain why I'm a fan of this style would take longer than I want - at least for the purposes here. So, I won't. In fact, if I did, it would probably bore you into the same level of bleakness that those movies seem to have. Instead, I'll do you one better - I'll tell you why I like Dostoevsky. Much more riveting, huh!? Ok, seriously, this post isn't about that either, but a brief sentence or two might set the stage for a quick thought today.
Dostoevsky wrote about the the hope and beauty that - contrary to popular belief - could be found through the dreariest of times, and in the bleakest of lives. That's it. His stories can be slightly depressing... if you miss his point. For him, "beauty" was powerful - active. It wasn't some dormant, passive object just lying around for us to trip over, point to, and say "hey, that's neat." Instead, he would say that it's an attribute of the force that causes us to move.
So, what's my point? Today I read an article (found here) about the Mona Lisa, questioning how the popularity of this painting has persisted as it has. Really, the post was asking if its fame was arbitrary or not. In short, the person conducting the study concluded that it was primarily by chance... implying that beauty is subjective. And not only that, but that beauty is deemed as such by - primarily - the coercion of others. Now, doesn't that have some objectivity in it somewhere? Isn't this ad populum (an appeal to the people/audience)? A decree of some absolute should not be based off of whether or not a finite, perspective-shifting majority group bans together... can it?
On the other hand, isn't that human nature? We are a directionless, sight-restricted people attempting to "find". So, naturally, we are going to deem unworthy things worthy at times, and vice versa. But that shouldn't define what is.
Here's my point: at times throughout our lives we are going to fail to see things as they are. And sadly, that is in part due to the volume of our culture's voice - which we have to watch out for. But how often are we only viewing the temporal and immediate qualities of an object? The superficial? A part? As a Christian, I only want to suggest - as I believe Dostoevsky would as well - that despite our limited access to objectivity, there is a constant beauty behind the inspiration that the immediacy of what we perceive offers. God.