Monday, June 8, 2009

On Ugliness

"... To assemble material for a history of ugliness is funnier than to make a history of beauty, because beauty is, in some way, boring. Even if its concept changes through the ages, nevertheless, a beautiful object must always follow certain rules. A beautiful nose should be no longer or shorter than any given measure. On the contrary, an ugly nose can be as long as the one of Pinocchio, as big as the trunk of an elephant, or like the beak of an eagle, and so on. Ugliness is unpredictable, and offers an infinite range of possibilities."
-- Umberto Eco

"Love is blind, as the saying is, Cupid's blind, and so are all his
followers. Every lover admires his mistress, though she be very deformed of herself, ill-favoured, wrinkled, pimpled, pale, red, yellow, tanned, tallow-faced, have a swollen juggler's platter face, or a thin, lean, chitty face, have clouds in her face, be crooked, dry, bald, goggle-eyed, blear-eyed, or with staring eyes, she looks like a squissed cat, hold her head still awry, heavy, dull, hollow-eyed, black or yellow about the eyes, or squint-eyed, sparrow-mouthed, Persian hook-nosed, have a sharp fox nose, a red nose, China flat, great nose, a nose like a promontory, gubber-tushed, rotten teeth, black, uneven, brown teeth, beetle browed, a witch's beard, her breath stink all over the room, her nose drop winter and summer, with a Bavarian poke under her chin, a sharp chin, lave eared, with a long crane's neck, which stands awry too, "her dugs like two double jugs," or else no dugs, in that other extreme, bloody fallen fingers, she have filthy, long unpared nails, scabbed hands or wrists, a tanned skin, a rotten carcass, crooked back, she stoops, is lame, splay-footed, "as slender in the middle as a cow in the waist," gouty legs, her ankles hang over her shoes, her feet stink, she breed lice, a mere changeling, a very monster, an oaf imperfect, her whole complexion savours, a harsh voice, incondite gesture, vile gait, a vast virago, or an ugly tit, a slug, a fat fustilugs, a truss, a long lean rawbone, a skeleton, a sneaker, and to thy judgment looks like a merd in a lantern, whom thou couldst not fancy for a world, but hatest, loathest, and wouldst have spit in her face, or blow thy nose in her bosom, _remedium amoris_ to another man, a dowdy, a slut, a scold, a nasty, rank, rammy, filthy, beastly quean, dishonest peradventure, obscene, base, beggarly, rude, foolish, untaught, peevish, Irus' daughter, Thersites' sister, Grobians' scholar, if he love her once, he admires her for all this, he takes no notice of any such errors, or imperfections of body or mind; he had rather have her than any woman in the world."
-- from Democritus Junior "The Anatomy of Melancholy"

"Caricature" Bartolomeo Passerotti (1529 - 1592)

Quentin Matsys
"La Vecchia Grotesqua" (1515)

"'The Ugly Duchess' served as a basis for John Tenniel's depiction of the Duchess in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It is likely a depiction of a real person with Paget's disease, though it is sometimes said to be a metaphorical portrait of the Duchess Margarete of Tyrol-Görz, who was known as Maultasch, which, though literally translated "satchel mouth", was used to mean "ugly woman" or "whore" (because of her marital scandals)."
-- Wikipedia: Quentin Matsys

Domenico Ghirlandaio
“Portrait of an Old Man With His Grandson” (1490)

"Ugliness can also be redeemed by human relationships and individual choice, even in this vapid age of Most Beautiful People lists. Inner virtue counts, and we may defy aesthetic guidelines when deciding where we’d most like to rest our eyes. The message in Domenico Ghirlandaio’s “Portrait of an Old Man With His Grandson” (circa 1490) seems to be that love is blind. The old man has a deformed face, but the little boy seems oblivious to any defect as he gazes up, entranced, into his grandfather’s eyes." -- New York Times "Not Pretty"

"When she appeared on the Britain's Got Talent stage for the first time, the audience and the judges appeared apprehensive and judgmental of her unpolished appearance. Upon finishing her song, she received a standing ovation from the live audience and unanimous praise from the judges..."
-- Wikipedia: Susan Boyle

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