Beauty matters

The UK Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) published the results of research which says that “eight out of ten people think everyone should be able to experience beauty on a regular basis.” CABE also commissioned a series of essays from seven public figures (Diana Athill, Bonnie Greer, Irena Bauman, Hasan Bakhshi, etc.) to tackle the questions raised in the research.

Diana Athill’s essay starts by recounting the following anecdote,

“I was recently given a glimpse of how this matters when I heard the following incident described: a man was at his desk in a room with a French window that opened on to a garden, fresh and fragrant on a sunny May morning. His 11-year-old daughter came running into the room and across to the window. Without realising her father was present, she paused, drew in a deep breath, and exclaimed: “Oh, how I love life!” The garden that beheld the child’s eye suddenly seemed so beautiful to her that she was jolted into uttering an exact description of the experience; seeing something as beautiful gave her a shot of life-love.”

The difficulty is that we are entering the realm of truisms, and this is dangerous.

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