On sex, women, and divine beauty
June 12, 2011 § Leave a comment
Or: further reflections on Jerome Robbins’ En Sol
But Gillot is divinely graceful and otherworldlily beautiful (all impossibly long arms and legs, a beauty so unusual, so striking as to be un-sexual, positively… seraphinic, powers and thrones, powers and thrones, I kept thinking — see this post)
Either most evolutionary psychologists are wrong in suggesting that our perception of beauty in members of opposite sex is sexually driven (being in their view recognition of a good breeding material); or I am a cross-wired mutant: my greatest loves have hardly been the most beautiful women I have known; and when faced with some types of beauty I am moved but — not attracted.
Agnes Gillot, and the Paris Opera Ballet in general, are case in point: I find them very beautiful and can stare at them for hours (usually hitting the replay button twice), but I am neither in love, nor sexually stimulated.
And while this could be a matter of intimidation (very beautiful women are often not courted precisely because they are in the opinions of men too beautiful for them to stand a chance), it seems, in my case, very well hidden indeed: I seem unable even to fantasize about these girls. (Bah! I am… uninterested in fantasizing!)
As beautiful as I find these ideal athletes, for pleasure I seem to prefer girls with… more flesh on them. An Evolutionary Psychologist might explain that: slightly chunkier girls are better breeding material, all that flesh — evidence of good feeding. But if so then why do I find the Opera Ballet girls beautiful? What could possibly be the point? Atavism? A throw back?
Nor is this a case of intimidation (i.e. preferring easier girls): while I have noticed — with great surprise — that trashy/easy looking girls get a lot of attention from men — perhaps because seeming cheap they do not intimidate; or perhaps because their unkemptness suggests general laxity (hair refusing the control of the comb being symbolic of a… shall we say, more general lack of control), the girls I have loved have all been prim and rather severely controlled. (Such girls can turn out to be surprisingly adventurous lovers – ease (or difficulty) of getting isn’t in any way indicative of the quality of the food). This, too, is straight Evolutionary Psychology: girls who are hard to get pose less risk (of infection); but even folk psychology can explain this: when a reserved girl loves you, you feel singled out for special treatment. Such love seems more… personal, more precious. (And it strokes your vanity).
OK, so evolutionary psychology explains perfectly my sexual conduct to-date: I prefer healthy looking (good breeders), well groomed, self-controlled (safe) girls.
It does not seem to explain why I find Agnes Gillot divinely beautiful. Why thrones, powers, principalities and dominions come to mind. Or why there should be such a thing as divine beauty: things so beautiful as to make us think of them as supernatural, greater than life, worthy of worship, and — unsexual, pure. Atavism? Or — faulty mutation, a mistake in the cognitive apparatus?
The ability to sense this divine beauty may be a minority phenomenon (I am surprised by how many people seem not to… — er — divine it); but one sees it frequently enough: there exist whole branches of mysticism — in otherwise unrelated religious traditions — whose whole point is the contemplation of divine beauty. Ergo, if it is a mutation, it is a fairly common one. And if it is, then it is there for a reason.
What reason could that be?
Hey, let’s have fun with this: here’s a poll: Do you experience divine beauty? By which I mean: if you are religious, do you find God beautiful? If (like me) you are irreligious, are you sometimes faced with experiences of beauty that make you think of God/ things divine/ transcendent/ otherworldly?