The quote (since it gets a bit lost in the gutter): “Beauty is a form of genius—is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation. It is of the great facts in the world like sunlight, or springtime, or the reflection in dark water of that silver shell we call the moon.” —Oscar Wilde
Why a shell? What are the properties of a shell that the moon shares? A pearlescent glow upon viewing? Or is the reference more to an apparent fragility like the egg shell?
Probably the latter since beauty in some forms is fragile. True beauty continues its pearlescent glow no matter what time elapses. In fact, an egg shell is very strong if force is exerted in a certain direction, and the blemishes on the moon of colliding heavenly bodies implies strength since the moon continues to exist in the hostility of space.
Not a bad metaphor after all.
But back to the main point, “Beauty is a form of genius.” This aspect of beauty suggests a character trait—the nature of beauty. Or it is the outward manifestation of the genius of creation. The former an aggressive form that we bring to our lives and the lives of others. And the latter a passive form that is bestowed upon us by the probable arrangement of particles based on genetic disposition.
So we continue, “It is of the great facts in the world like sunlight, or springtime, or the reflection of that silver shell we call the moon.” All of these great facts are passive probable arrangements of particles. As beauty is one of these great facts, so it is the passive and out of our hands.
Adequate for those who see a beautiful reflection in the mirror. Inadequate for those who don’t use the mirror’s reflection to find the presence of beauty in their lives. Adequate for all if the mainstream “vision” of beauty holds no sway, and in the mirror’s reflection is found the genius of creation’s beauty in all its varied manifestations.
The last point assumes facts not in evidence in the original quote, but it’s a warm fuzzy, so I’ll go with it.
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