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By "beauty," I mean that which seems complete.

Obversely, that the incomplete, or the mutilated, is the ugly.

Venus de Milo.

To a child she is ugly.

When a mind adjusts to thinking of her as a completeness, even though, by physiologic standards, incomplete, she is beautiful.

A hand thought of only as a hand, may seem beautiful.

Found on a battlefield--obviously a part--not beautiful.

-- Charles Fort, The Book of the Damned

I think the point can be extended to other arenas, but I'll take as my starting point physical attractiveness, since that was Fort's example. I've never quite understood how people can describe their idea of a beautiful person in terms of specific characteristics -- this height, this color hair, this sort of nose, etc. If I think of a particular person who I consider attractive, I can't capture that attractiveness with a catalogue of characteristics, any more than you can describe a novel by listing the words that are in it. It's not the parts, it's how the parts fit together. It's not this shape of nose and this color hair, it's how this shape of nose and that color hair complement each other. It's not the word "brooding," it's the word "brooding" used to describe that character at this point of the story.



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