“What we have as Satanists at our disposal are ways of seeing things by using our minds in different ways. Sometimes knowing about something removes the beauty, and as Satanists we spend our lives acquiring knowledge on all different things to get an understanding, so how do we get the beauty back? “- Lee Banks- RATIONAL SATANISM, S-THEORY.
Well, sir, let’s look at the definition of beauty:
“The quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit”- Merriam-Webster.
The tricky thing about beauty is that it comes in two varieties, natural and created. In the above chapter, Lee Banks was referring to natural beauty, specifically sunsets and gemstones. In my current day job, I see the sunrise at least 5 days a week. Every day it looks the same, especially the deep crimson glow upon the bottom of the clouds hovering lowly over the downtown core of this struggling urban center. Sometimes it looks ominous. Sometimes it doesn’t register any notice at all because I’m wandering this parking lot brooding/pontificating/deliberating/simply trying to stay awake. Other times it simply looks captivating. I rationally know that the sunrise always looks the same and I’ve absorbed its beauty on countless occasions, but beauty can only present itself, what it cannot do is dominate us.
Let’s talk about created beauty. We typically call this phenomenon art but that’s not the only place where created beauty exists, unless you consider a particular sports car a work of art. Some people consider certain feats of engineering to be things of beauty. There’s a particular Rolex watch that I think is beautiful and even the interconnectedness (is that even a fucking word?), of the inner gears is rather enthralling. Whatever “exalts the mind or spirit” in the moment is beautiful. Goethe said something about how the best way to kill something beautiful is to analyze it. I think that’s what Lee Banks was getting at is how education plus deconstructionism is bad for the spirit. But is it?
There are two interconnected elements that make beautiful items beautiful. The first is surprise and the second is rarity. Beauty has to spring itself upon you. You hear people who are (ahem) not us saying, “There’s beauty everywhere if you’re just willing to look for it.” Unless you’re willing to do a lot of acid you can’t really force yourself to see the beauty in everything. (And even then you better have a solidly positive sense of self or else that acid trip is going to get real ugly, especially when you have to see yourself bereft of all of your illusions). Beauty is rare for a reason. If it wasn’t rare you wouldn’t find it enthralling. Sounds sensible but there are people out there in the world who insist that the very concept of beauty itself is merely a social construct and we can embrace anything as beautiful providing we change our inculcated prejudices. After all Winston Smith learned to love Big Brother but it took a number of intense interrogation sessions climaxed by an iron mask fastened to his face and a big greasy London sewer rat with his ass on fire threatening to eat through his fucking face to get the job done. That sounds like an extreme way to get the average guy to decide that maybe evil isn’t such an ugly thing after all.
Now let’s suppose we took up the cause of trying to find beauty everywhere. To start with that would require a strong element of desire. The funny thing about desire is that left in the hands of the irrational it easily becomes obsession. If you develop an obsession in finding beauty everywhere you have to force yourself to intellectualize why that blade of grass, that fresh steaming pile of dog shit, that cheap plaster statue of the mythical figure on the cross, that fat bone-white Canadian guy in the tiny black Speedos wearing black socks and thongs, or the bloody tampon in the tea cup is indeed a thing of beauty. At that point you’re no longer experiencing beauty, you’re wasting whatever limited brain power you have trying to deny the existence of ugliness.
The simple answer to your question, sir is this, beauty hasn’t gone anywhere. Sometimes it’s just out of sight but it is indeed there. It’s in a painting that you’ve seen 100 times but on this occasion you feel the thunderbolt of realization. It’s a woman sitting on the tube trying to convince herself that 50 Shades of Grey is indeed literature with her countenance scrunched up into an amusing expression of disbelief that she thinks no one else can see. It’s watching the 50-1 longshot explode in the homestretch and upset the favourite at the track. It’s an idea that neatly summarizes why the universe is the way it is. One just needs to be prepared to be surprised, or at least receptive to the idea of being surprised. Beauty cannot dominate our lives, nor can we become obsessed with finding it everywhere. That futile pursuit merely cheapens the idea of beauty altogether. The Rational Satanist simply needs to conclude that beauty does indeed exist but it tends to exist best bereft of expectations.