Maybe out of shyness or for fear of sounding pretentious, we have stopped talking about beauty. Elaine Scarry, in On Beauty and Being Just, says that we have turned beauty into a taboo, fearing that it will distract us from what really matters or that it will make us “reifie” the other. The result of this rejection is not that the conversation has disappeared, but that surgery, cosmetics and charlatans (if you have nothing to say, say it nicely) have taken its space and have appropriated it, stealing the beauty from the rough, the sad, the lively.
I propose recovering beauty, remembering that it shouldn’t be an empty distraction, as Scarry defends, a moral invitation, not a simple form but an applied form, not only “how,” but “what for.” I propose taking away the monopoly of the concept from cosmetic surgery and Apple because, as Byung-Chul Han criticises in The Salvation of Beauty, they turn it into a smooth and impeccable deformation that anesthetizes us. That’s what we should defeat and not the sad features in our faces.
Films such as Belladonna of Sadness make us face the beautiful and the sad, and shake our ideas and emotions. They wake us up. Because, as Ursula K. Le Guin affirms, “the majority of adults already know that life is hard and full of pain, and look at art in search for a confirmation of this knowledge, as a form of consolation.” Or as Makinavaja says: “In a rotten world with no ethics, us sensitive people are only left with aesthetics.”