A yellow sunflower demonstrates radial symmetry.
According to scientific researchers, we view symmetrical faces as beautiful. But no matter how evenly-spaced the eyes, how flawless the lips, at best we fold in half. Our most perfect beauty is a symmetry of sides.
How can we compete with the radial symmetry of a flower, whose beauty is repeated in even measure around a circular center? To have, instead of sides, quadrants of perfection? Our eyes (those orbs of concentric color) rejoice in such inhuman delights. We revel in the ocular oomph of asters and anemones.
Must beauty, then, be separate from us: distant and removed as Saturn? Or is there beauty, too, in imbalance? A shirt falling off a slim shoulder, a ruby tulip in a field of goldenrod? A decaying building, an abandoned shoe?
The answer, of course, is that we can find beauty in them all.
So what is beauty, then, if not symmetry? If not perfection? Perhaps beauty is not passive or absolute. It is a participatory act, a connection from ocular nerve to synapse to thought. Beauty, perhaps, is found in the art of seeing. Beauty is something drawn from inside our imperfect, asymmetric selves.
This morning, I gaze out a train window.
The morning sun cuts through clouds above bare trees.
Beauty is in the eye of the ... no, too obvious.