Beauty doesn't require prettiness. Some pieces of art are not pleasing to look at, and yet their content and form are arresting and lure the heart into profound imagination.
I read this in a book I borrowed from the library called Spirit of the Home by Jane Alexander. It's all about how to turn your home into a place of comfort and protection with a connection to that sacred, spirtual part of you as well. It's a great book, what little I've actually read. I've mostly enjoyed the pictures of perfectly constructed home interiors with a kind of magical feel to each one. I'm a sucker for enterior design. I've often thought, while looking through similar books, that maybe I shouldn't go to school for that, too. But that's too far off the point for this paragraph.
This phrase by Mr. Moore is how my view of art and, subsequently, life, has developed since college. I think I might even have had this universal view already in place before I went to school, but it took a few good professors to wring it out of me. I remember sitting in class on day one of Intro to Art History and the professor handing out these pieces of paper. He asked us to profile ourselves briefly and to put our philosophy on art at the bottom in less than ten sentences. I had no clue what to put then and I still don't really know what I'd put now, but that day was the starting point to my discovery of what the world of art meant to me.
Interesting person this Thomas Moore. Here is a piece cut from Wikipedia's entry for him-
Thomas Moore (May 28, 1779 - February 25, 1852) was an Irish poet, singer, songwriter, and entertainer, now best remembered for the lyrics of The Minstrel Boy and the The Last Rose of Summer. Born onthe corner of Aungier Street in Dublin, Ireland over his father's grocery shop, his father being from an Irish speaking Gaeltacht in Kerry and his mother, Anastasia Codd, from Wexford. He was educated at Trinity College, which had recently allowed entry to Catholic students and studied law at the Middle Temple in London. It was, however, as a poet, translator, balladeer and singer that he found fame. His work soon became immensely popular and included The Harp That Once Through Tara's Halls, Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms, The Meeting of the Waters and many others. His ballads were published as Moores Irish Melodies (commonly called Moores Melodies) in 1846 and1852.
Also not mentioned in that cut was the fact that the man is also Ireland's National Bard. His views and ideas expressed in his work follow Ireland's views and ideas as a national culture. Our own National Poet here in America is Walt Whitman, but more on him some other time when I get around to feeling in the mood to write about him.
Back to the original quote. Moore is right on when he says beauty is not always pretty. There are many paintings and works of art that youmight look at and think "wow, that is not attractive at all, and yet,it makes me curious to understand the meaning behind it." That is one of the great accomplishments in the art world when you can createsomething that reaches out to the mind of the viewer no matter whothey are or how unatractive the piece is.
It works this way in life as well. Those people we initially judge as shady and up to no good, i.e. goths, bikers, all those emo punks,might be some of the nicest kids/people you will meet. They understand a side of reality that most people never explore. They feel familiar and comfortable with that dark, emotional, or hard and rough edge of life and choose to embrace it. It doesn't mean they are any less of a person or that their morals are off. Without the dark you cannot have light. Light cannot exist without something to be contrasted against.