Friday, February 03, 2006

Japanese Gardens and Human Beauty

After class on Wednesday I started thinking about the connection between highly manicured Japanese gardens and human beauty. I find it hard to view the gardens as products of nature since they are so deliberately sculpted, groomed and arranged. In this sense, because they are the creation of humans, they seem to be works of art. Although nature may have created the materials, that nature slowly evaporated as each hedge was pruned and each branch was molded into a specific shape. If man’s intrusion on nature can be viewed as art in this sense, how are we to view ourselves?

Humans may be products of biological nature, but no one (or at least very, very few) exists in a truly natural state. We are continually sculpting, grooming and arranging ourselves (using products from Sephora’s beauty tool aisle, among others) to appear as our idea of perfection, or at least something more perfect than we are by nature. Does this mean we create works of art every morning when we shower and dress ourselves, every time we shave our faces or our legs and every time we exercise?


Blogger China said...

At the same time, though...I think it's interesting that humans seem to be viewed as being somewhat less natural than the rest of nature, despite being an animal within it. If a natural disaster alters the state of a location, like if a fire destroys a forest or earthquake damages land, the occurrence is considered a natural disaster despite whatever changes are made in nature's appearance. But if humans, a product of nature, alter their appearances with tweezers, hair dye, makeup, etc, it's viewed as art or "fake" alteration. And yet, it's still the natural altering the natural - regardless of the tools a human uses, the human is still doing her own altering. Why is the human such an exception?

7:04 PM  
Blogger Dolen said...

Ooh, good one Devon. I think a makeup "artist" might answer this in the affirmative. They consider themselves "face painters." I've heard supermodel Iman refer to the face as a canvas.

9:31 AM  

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