Foreword to Beauty Unlimited

In Peg Brand Weiser (ed.), Beauty Unlimited. Indiana University Press (2013)
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Whatever approach one favors, the relationships between the most abstract and disembodied sense of beauty and the physical, erotic sense are clearly harder to sever than many philosophers have previously realized. The soul may be glad to forget its connection with the body, as Santayana put it, but that gladness indicates that the connection is there to be forgotten in the first place. And often it is not so much forgotten as reshaped and transfigured. Such transformations are explored here with excursions into the place of beauty in art; into the queering of beauty in the exemplars of beautiful artworks; into explorations of the marginal and exotic that allure while defying conventional models; into the literal carving of facial features for cosmetic and artistic purposes that both conform to and challenges norms of appearance. In such different contexts these authors dramatize the various ways that beauty can function in relation to personal desires, artistic values, and social authority. Here we can discover beauty not only as a quality and a value, but also as a project and a practice that drives our lives from both within and without--internal standards, external expectations, and ambivalence meeting in provocative disputation.



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Carolyn Korsmeyer
State University of New York, Buffalo

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