Truth Doesn't Have to be Palatable

I commented on an Asian immigrant’s two-sentence response to Laura Wood’s post at The Thinking Housewife on Obama’s plans to give amnesty to border-crossing Mexicans.
Asian Immigrant commenting on The Thinking Housewife: I feel a sense of helpless dread after reading that five million illegals are going to be given legal status next week at the stroke of a pen. I am a new citizen who did everything correctly.
- My answer at The Thinking Housewife (portions):
-  I don’t have much sympathy for the Asian...
- He sounds like he’s sorry for himself. He’s put himself in the victim’s role. It was he who made the difficult and risky decision of leaving his country to come to the U.S. and try his luck. No one pulled him here.
- ...he seems to be saying that because he “did everything correctly” he is owed something. Why?
- Lawrence Auster talked [and wrote] about the perils of LEGAL immigration.  That if people came from backgrounds and cultures incompatible with the Western, Judeo-Christian, American culture, then they will feel alienated.
- All Asians know how CULTURALLY different the U.S. (and Canada and Europe) is [from their countries].
The whole post, and interaction, is available here.
The interesting thing is that the Asian immigrant has remained silent, and instead it is another correspondent who has responded to my comments.
I will refer to the correspondent, David J. as DJ (how apt, he is the deejay for the AI).
1. David J. (DJ): For quite some time, I have tried to hold my proverbial tongue about the opinions of Ms. Kidist Paulos Asrat concerning Asians, but her post above is about all that I can take of her seemingly undeserved criticisms of this human group...
Kidist Paulos Asrat (KPA): I am being referred, or my position is being referred to, as “inhuman” in contrast to all these “human” groups that I am criticizing. A subtle, and clever, ad hominem.
2. DJ: Firstly, how can such a short, innocuous, and commonsensical comment...
KPA: Again he’s setting the standards. Since when have short sentences been given full amenity over harm and stupidity?
Who is judging that? He, me, an independent jury?
What are his reasoning, rationale, arguments for these sentences being innocuous and commonsensical?
3. DJ:  made by a lone Asian reader
KPA: Since when have the actions of lone individuals not had consequences? Is the Asian absolved because he’s alone? 
But is he even "alone?" I asked if the Asian was married, had a girlfriend, had a family. He never responded. How do we know he is not making this statement with the backing of other Asians around him?
But even more interestingly, is he absolved because he’s Asian!
So, how do we know that his opinions are his alone? I claim, based on research, readings and interactions, that many Asians think like this. I am sure he would agree with me.
This is where I claim that he is looking for sympathy, as a “poor, harmed, victimized, lonely Asian.”
4. DJ: warrant such a lengthy diatribe
KPA: Again, a clever interjection of an ad hominem - “diatribe”
He’s basically dismissing, or highlighting, my discussion as some kind of rage-filled, hate-filled rant, incoherent and not worth listening to.
5. DJ: By Ms. Asrat, an Ethiopian immigrant in Canada?
KPA: DJ really quite sophisticated. He is saying that because I am an immigrant (his definition of me), then I have no right to criticize other immigrants.
Why? Because of some unspoken fellowship? A code of language (immigrant ethics)? An obligation to “shut up”?
Is he making me complicit with some kind of “immigrant underworld” of liars and cheats, and that I may be part of that?
Of course, he underlines “Ethiopian” as well. This is clearly a reference to “race” as in non-whites cannot criticize other non-whites.
So, once again, he has lumped me in his “non-white immigrant” category, to which I am supposed to owe allegiance, and if not, at least a code of ethics of keeping quiet about immigration. 
I don’t consider myself an “immigrant” by the current definitions, which means someone from a Third world country (Asia, Africa and Latin America). It is very interesting that those Germans, English, Scandinavians who have been here much fewer years than I have are not considered immigrants, nor do they consider themselves immigrants. The original Germans, English, Scandinavians immigrants were also considered "immigrants" but "settlers." The hyphenated immigrant is now mostly from a Third World country.
Previous hyphenations were limited. It is now understood that "German Americans" for example, are only called thus for some authentic referral to their roots. They all eventually became simply Americans. 
Now, ALL Third World immigrants present themselves with a hyphenation to indicate their countries of origin. 
But I have always called myself Canadian, and never refer to my Ethiopian background except when the conversation requires it.  So it is DJ who has set the definitions of the parameters of my identity.
6.  DJ: The Asian reader has dutifully obeyed our immigration laws...
KPA: “Obeying our immigration laws” has become a code language for “immediate acceptance.” Applying for immigration should be no guarantee for acceptance. Of course a prospective immigrant should “obey” the immigration laws, otherwise he is simply a criminal. But, just because he follows immigration laws doesn't give him a free ticket into America.
7. DJ: ...and is disheartened that admitted lawbreakers will unjustly receive the same reward of American citizenship as he.
KPA: DJ is clever again, putting the word “reward” here, indicating that even legal immigration requires its stringent process. 
8. DJ: Were he white or Hispanic, would Ms. Asrat have taken him to task for such a simple expression of despair over an obvious injustice?
KPA: I don't understand this question. But I think it is DJ's clever way of saying that I would favor "Third world" immigrants, or that I may be loyal to these countries because of my country of origin.
Of course, my answer is "No." See above.
9. DJ: Further, I have read her unreasonable criticisms of an Asian Christian woman named Jessica Rey. What are Mrs. Rey’s wrongs?
KPA: Here we go into interesting territory: a post I wrote about a year ago (and which Laura posted on her website here and here----She’s LIMITED - sub-par
10. DJ: … An Asian Christian woman
KPA: I will start with the "Christian" part.
11.  DJ: She sells relatively modest swimsuits (are such not needed to combat the whorish swimwear of today or should women avoid the water entirely?).
KPA: Here’s a comment at Laura’s site, and what a correspondent wrote about Rey’s modesty ploy and not-so-cheap swimwear:
Kidist also mentions the swimsuits being something you could easily buy at Sears or Wal-Mart. I can’t speak for either of those stores but I can attest to seeing very similar styles at Target for considerably less so I do wonder what exactly Jessica is adding to the market, other than more expensive versions of items already available for purchase. Her whole “modesty” schtick seems to be more of a marketing ploy rather than a true interest in modesty and reclaiming beauty. See above
KPA: Plus, Rey is “limited.” She focuses solely on swimwear, where one can get the same design at a fraction of the price at Walmart, Target and Sears.
I’ve bought such swimwear from Walmart, and the color hasn’t run, and the suit hasn’t shrunk. I think I got a pretty good deal. 
The only problem is it says “Made in China.” Now, I think the Chinese are actually getting designs from American prototypes, so their merchandise is proxy-American. My big battle now is to try and buy everything Made in America. It is getting cheaper these days to do so.
And it is not clear where Rey has her swimwear manufactured.
KPA: Regarding Rey's limited merchandise:
She is now writing a book (or has written a book) on how young girls can chose "modesty." This is the swimsuit designer talking about modesty! She calls it "Decent Exposure." Why "exposure" at all? Strange choice of word for a "modesty" advocate.
I think she's just trying out other venues for income generation. I doubt her swimsuit enterprise has been very profitable.
12. DJ: She runs her own business, even though she has a husband and children (did not the Bible’s model of a virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 diligently work to sell linens and handle commercial affairs while simultaneously fulfilling her wifely obligations to her family?)
KPA:  She’s not selling linens, she’s selling glorified underwear!
13. DJ: Her clothing merchandise is more expensive than the counterparts at Sears and Walmart (is such not expected from small businesses that cannot capitalize on the economies of scale and bulk distribution networks of large conglomerates?).
KPA: But it is not any better!!! Unless she can guarantee colors not fading/running etc, and come out with better designs that Sears, Walmart and Target at a fraction the price,  or JC Pennys which are still ½ of what Rey charges for hers.
14. DJ: If I remember correctly, Mrs. Rey posed while pregnant in a tank top with her husband on a website -
KPA:  So much for modesty - showing her protruding stomach in a “tank top.”

Here is a correspondent at The Thinking Housewife who agrees with me, and adds more to the conversation:
I also agree with both you and Kidist that the pregnancy photo is immodest and inappropriate. It’s an interesting photographic capture of her and her husband’s solipsistic behavior, the way that they ogle the pregnant belly as if to say, “Look at what WE did! This is OUR special moment!” It’s most definitely not about the baby. I feel sorry for their children who were conceived, in all likelihood, for the benefit of the parents. These children grow up not viewing themselves as complete souls on their own because their whole purpose in life is to complete the parents’ empty souls. At least, that’s what pictures like this say to me. It brings to mind the modern wedding, its expense and emphasis on destroying tradition in favor of adding your “personal” touch because when you’re a solipsist the world emanates from you, you don’t inhabit a world separate from yourself. It’s flawed beliefs like this that give credence to a “whatever works for you” or “whatever you need Christ to be” kind of Christianity. And in the case of Jessica Rey, it gives rise to a conveniently commercial modesty that profits.
And Laura writes here:
Immodest? She looks like she is wearing underwear or clothes for bed. Very tight clothes on a pregnant woman are immodest because they are similar to nakedness in revealing all the contours of the body. A woman’s naked body should be for her husband alone. Modesty is about protecting intimacy, privacy, and mystery, not simply about sex. (Insane people are the most immodest of all. They have no sense of self, no interior life, no restraint.) If there are not some things we reveal only to those with whom we are most intimate, those whom we love and to whom we also disclose our deepest thoughts, then we have no self to give to them. We have no privacy and no depth. “Indiscretion signifies a lack of distinction,” said Rudolf Allers, in his book Sex Psychology. Privacy is exclusive.
Yes, her husband is worshiping her and her belly. He does not look at the camera. He is in the background, his ostentatious crucifix obscured by his wife’s overdeveloped biceps. [Actually, this is not right, because her left arm is slight, so I take that back. See discussion below.]
It is interesting that there is no full-faced photo of her husband on-line, nor anything about what he does. It is the standard fare of these “enterprising” women, often Asian women (look at Michelle Malkin) that they completely put their husbands out of the picture. I can understand keeping their children anonymous, but why the husband? Where is their personal life? How do they influence each other? Etc...
15. DJ: Why were the white wives on the selfsame website, some of whom were nude, not also heavily criticized by Ms. Asrat?
KPA: - I have criticized whites. But this blog is about Asians.
16.  DJ: She married a white man (did not Moses marry one of Ms. Asrat’s fellow Ethiopian kinsmen, a marriage that in Numbers 12 was defended by God himself when his sister, Miriam, spoke against it?).
KPA:  Moses’ marriage is a very difficult part of the Bible
But historically, and ethnically, you could say that Miriam was similar to Moses, being a Semite, as the Amhara of Ethiopia are still identified.
Miriam was probably reacting to the differences in geographic area, and a foreign woman, as someone who was not from their region. The same way we would react towards a European woman marrying and American man. And I think rightly so.
17. DJ: Let me hurry to qualify that I am not a proponent of mass interracial relationships.
KPA: It is always with qualifiers isn’t it these days? The disease of our times. No-one takes a stand, and softens whatever stand they have with some kind of “I’m not such a bad person because….”
18. DJ: I even recall Ms. Asrat’s complaining about a white family’s Asian nanny who took the young white son to a McDonald’s restaurant! What a crime against humanity and affront to Western civilization is the world’s most popular white-owned restaurant!
KPA: I agree. I was saddened and depressed by the food the young boy was eating. He was drinking a can of coke and eating some kind of candy. I didn’t find them in MacDonalds but close enough in the huge downtown mall, with people charging around by this young toddler’s stroller. The coke and candy seemed like a way to cajole him into silence (or temporary contentedness) while strapped into that stroller in the crowded mall. Here is a post I did on him.
This bothered me so much that I posted a letter I sent to Laura (Thinking Housewife) about the situation:
There are parks nearby, where the woman could have taken the boy.
This nanny was Chinese. I listened to (into) the Chinese nanny’s conversation, and she had a prominent accent, and spoke with grammatical errors. This is the kind of English this young boy is being exposed to at the crucial, language-acquiring years of his life.
19. DJ: Of course, I welcome critical viewpoints about all human groups when the shoe fits: blacks regarding violent crime rates, whites concerning liberalism, East Asians concerning academic testing improprieties, Australian Aboriginals regarding alcoholism, Arabs concerning Islam, and so forth. In the words of Steve Sailer, “criticism makes you better.” However, the quickness by which Ms. Asrat interjects to reproach Asians and virtual refusal to allow a positive comment about them to go unchallenged appear unseemly and biased, especially with regards to a group of people with the lowest crime rates, highest intelligence (save Ashkenazi Jews), and lowest illegitimacy rates. Of course, by “Asians,” I gather that the chief focus is on East Asians.
KPA: This is a bit jumbled. I’ll answer it in two parts.
a. Essentially, DJ is saying that he acknowledges the faults of specific ethnics. (Actually, one point of contention: I wouldn’t say “Arabs concerning Islam” But I would say” “Arabs concerning Jihad, and murdering non-Muslims in the name of Islam”). But that he doesn’t like the way I reproach Asians on criteria that he doesn’t agree with!
b. He criticizes the quickness  “by which [I interject] to reproach Asians and [my] virtual refusal to allow a positive comment about them to go unchallenged appear unseemly and biased.”
Since when has criticism been coated with pretty words? Criticism is criticism. I don’t have to make it palatable for you or for anyone else. In fact, even if I do that, you will find it at fault and probably say I’m “sugar-coating” my reproach.  
Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat

Laura Wood, at The Thinking Housewife has a post about the bikini. She has posted a video of a former television actress, Jessica Rey, who has started a movement on modesty, although this movement has been around for a while, so she's following rather than leading.

Now, first of all, the bikini is an American icon, however it may reflect on the culture. It has adorned songs, movies, photographs and movie stars. It is with this understanding, and this nostalgia, that bikini critiquing should take place, perhaps with a little tongue in cheek. Rey does acknowledge the history of the bikini in American culture, but she doesn't acknowledge the nostalgia of the bikini.

The cute song "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini" is in its own way about modesty, or how to manoeuvre around the immodesty of the bikini. Rey sites this song, and does state that this is about the young girl trying to protect her modesty. But again, she rams through the charm of the song, and the spirit and era of the America in which it appeared.

It was sung in the heydays of the 1960s by a teen pop idol Brian Hyland:

She was afraid to come out of the locker
she was as nervous as she could be
she was afraid to come out of the locker
she was afraid that somebody would see

Two three four
tell the people what she wore

It was an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
that she wore for the first time today
an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
so in the locker she wanted to stay. [The rest of the lyrics here].
This was Brian Hyland when he sang the song. Who wouldn't find this a cute and innocent pop hit?

Teen Idol of the 1960s

Rey says that the alternative to immodesty should not be frumpy. Yet, she appears on stage giving her speech in a dull get up. Her hair is long and disheveled, she is wearing thick, unattractive, red glasses (so many to chose from, and that is what she found?), her skirt and blouse, despite some embellishment (the skirt has a ribbon, and the blouse patterned) have no interesting pattern or cut, and she's wearing black pumps - why not white, or even pale pink to contrast her skirt?

Rey talks about frumpiness in her speech:
I remember speaking to a group of teenagers in New York, and when I mentioned modesty this girl yelled from the back: "What am I supposed to dress like then, a grandma?"...But I have to admit, I saw the same thing when I first learned about modesty. I thought it meant I had to be frumpy and dumpy and out of fashion.
I don't know if it is a lack of fashion, or if it is her crew who gave her this advice. But, if the alternative to immodesty is to dress in a bland style, why should any woman listen to her?

She ends her speech with "We were all made beautiful, in His image."

It is then her Catholicism that she's espousing, rather than a search for a cultural alternative to the ugliness around us. I don't think she's interested in beauty. Or rather, she is interested in beauty as a way to expose its weaknesses, in a puritanical way, rather than to demonstrate its great life-affirming strength.

There is a zealous desire to stifle beauty in our culture, from all sides. It looks like Rey is part of that.

Yet, in the contradictory way that is common to purists, what she calls modesty is not that at all.

Laura writes: "I wouldn’t call [Rey's swim suites] modest, except by today’s aggressively revealing standards."

Debra C. at The Thinking Housewife writes:
I would readily buy the Marie or the Susy [bikini styles from Rey's collection].
Here are the styles Marie and Susy:

Rey Swimsuit Styles:
Left Marie, for $90
Right Susy, for $90

They are the one or two which resemble 1920s style dress/swimsuit. The rest are standard one piece suits, a little longer on the pants, but which can be found at any store - Sears, Walmart - as contemporary swimwear.

Below are a couple from Walmart, at one quarter Rey's price:

Walmart's Catalina Swimsuits:
Left: Catalina Skirtini Swimsuit: $32
Right: Catalina Sarong-style Swimsuit: $19


Shock Top: Beer for the Discerning Palette

Moxie's in Mississauga's Square One location is featuring a new beer, or at least a beer I hadn't seen on their menu before.

It is Shock Top Wheat IPA (Indian Pale Ale).
The Shock Top line is one of the Anheuser-Busch “craft” beer arms, and the brand revolves around a Belgian Wit (or “White”) style of beer (in the same vein as Coors and their Blue Moon series); in addition to the main Shock Top Belgian White, they also produce a Raspberry Wheat and a Pumpkin Wheat—and now, a Wheat IPA [Source: The Brew Site].
And more on Anheuser-Busch:
Based in St. Louis, Anheuser-Busch is the leading American brewer, holding a 47.6 percent share of U.S. beer sales to retailers. The company brews the world’s largest-selling beers, Budweiser and Bud Light, and distributes these and many other popular brands through a strong network of more than 600 independent wholesalers [Source: Anheuser-Busch].
Here are the notes I took as I was tasting the beer (the waitress had brought me a sample since it is a new feature in the restaurant). I'm not a beer sommelier, so my assessment is purely based on my own amateur palette:

Substance - Malty
Balance - Sweet/Dry
Taste - Tangy/Citrusy
Color - Yellowish, Straw-like
Clarity - Opaque
Sedements- Some
Froth - Slightly effervescent
After taste - None

It is difficult to find a full review of the beer, perhaps because it is so new. Nonetheless, Here is a short essay on the beer from this site, which I've edited for better reading, and highlighted the important information:
As many of you may already be aware, back in October of last year [2011] Shock Top announced that they would soon be producing a “hybrid” profile beer called the Wheat I.P.A. Unfortunately for the beer consuming masses, very little information about Shock Top’s new project has surfaced since that announcement. That is, until now. Earlier today I managed to get a hold of a bottle of the new Wheat I.P.A. and let me tell you, this is one interesting beer. Set to release country wide on February 6, 2012, the WIPA combines the bright citrus notes of a wheat beer and the traditional hoppiness of an India Pale Ale. Once again, Shock Top has continued to broaden the scope of profiles in which beer manifests itself.

Once poured from the bottle, the brew's most notable trait is its cloudiness. Similar to an unfiltered hefe-weizen, the golden hued Wheat I.P.A. is nearly opaque and contains sediments left over from the brewing process. The nose of the beer is instantly recognizable as a wheat beer boasting a variety of several crisp citrus aromas. As I took my first taste, the WIPA’s citrus profile immediately grabbed my attention. However, within a few brief seconds an out-of-the-ordinary bitterness typically associated with strong and bold I.P.A.’s takes center stage. Just as quickly as the flavor appeared, the WIPA’s bitterness begins to subdue and the brew begins to transmute, yet again, into a classic wheat beer. I have to admit that I had a fairly difficult time finding and isolating the coriander notes touted on the bottle’s label, but regardless the beer is well balanced and chocked full of flavor. [Shock Top has a] clean and refreshing finish sans the bitterness.

There you have it, a new unique and delicious hybrid beer that delivers bright flavors and bold profiles to satiate almost any drinker’s palette.

I don't think I did too bad!

I may not be a beer sommelier, I do cook, and I do experiment with cooking. And I've had some pretty good results.

If this beer is available in your region, you can drink it alone, since it is sturdy enough to have without a meal.

But I would recommend it with a meal of pork chops.

I have a pork chop recipe ready, which I embellished from this New York City restaurant's chef oeuvre.

My pork chop recipe, Pork Chops à la Kidist is here.

Pork Chops à la Kidist, and Thoughts on NYC Architecture

The Unassuming Bistro Daniel Boulud, on 55 West 44th Street (between Fifth and Sixth)

Julia Child brought in French Chef Daniel Boulud for her Master Chefs series yesterday (actually its archival material, since Child died in 2004). Boulud has various restaurants, cafes, bistros, bars and epiceries in New York City. He has a restaurant in the trendy Yorkville of Toronto.

Child asked him to make his veal chops, and what a process! Here is the video.

I personally find veal to be a little bland, and it has an after taste I can recognize immediately (and do not like), whether barbecued, minced in spaghetti sauce, or grilled as chops.

I prefer the robust tastes of pork and beef, and can make my own version of pork chops with ingredients very similar to what Boulud used.

Here are my ingredients and cooking instructions:

Pork Chops à la Kidist

(Serves 3)

3 medium sized pork chop
5 or six shallots
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons Worcester sauce
1 tablesoon flour
Juice from three oranges
4-5 teaspoons plain Dijon mustard
1/4 cup water
Salt and Pepper to taste

Coat the pork chops on both sides with the Dijon mustard

Cook the chops on the stove, with the lid on and low heat until done

Put the heat up, and sear the chops on both sides for about a minute each

Remove the chops from the skillet

Cook the shallots, minced, in the pork fat in the same pan as the chops. Add oil if necessary. Scrape the pan to get all the flavors

Divide the mixture in half

Leave one portion in the pan, add the orange juice and Worcester sauce, and reduce it to a syrupy consistency

Put the other mixture in another pan, stir in about 1/4 cup water, and warm it up

Add the browned flour to thicken up the mixture to make a gravy

Add salt and pepper to taste

Smear the syrupy mixture over the chops

Pour some of the gravy over the chops

Serve the rest of the gravy in a separate gravy boat

As the photo shows, you can also add some parsley to the mixture for additional taste

Serve the chops with sauted green beans


I looked up Daniel Boulud's restaurants and found that I have actually passed one by while in New York. In fact it is right beside a small and pleasant diner called The Red Flame, on 67 West 44th Street, where I've had at least three meals, and in good company. Daniel Boulud's Bistro Moderne is just up the road on 55 West 44th Street, and in a lovely building. I wonder why I hadn't gone in and order a soup, or something "inexpensive." And from the menu, I think I could have managed that. Their cheapest item is the Soupe du Jour for $12.

Boulud's bistro is in the former City Club building, which, "In 1904...was a non-partisal political club for Democrats and Republicans to meet up and chat among layers of cigar smoke." The Harvard Club and the Algonquin Hotel, which I have also walked by and where the legendary Algonquin Round Table that met, are also on the street.

I couldn't find the architect for the City Club building. The best that I can find online is this site, which points to Lord and Hewlett as the architects of the City Club building, and this site which lists them as the designers of the building's dedication in 1904. And here [pdf file] is a site on James Monroe Hewlett as "architect, muralist, designer," written by his granddaughter Anglesea Parkhurst Newman in 2009.

The designers of the building for the Algonquin Hotel are Starrett & van Vleck, who designed many of New York's department stores, including: Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, Abraham & Straus, and Alexander's.

The Harvard Club's original wing
...built in 1894, was designed in red brick neo-Georgian style by Charles Follen McKim of McKim, Mead & White. [Source: Wikipedia]
McKim also built the Morgan Library, in mid-town Manhattan. Here's a (pictorial) list of buildings by McKim, with his partners Mead and White, which includes the beautiful Plaza Hotel by Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Algounin Round Table plaque on the Algonquin Hotel

The Harvard Club

Book Project:
An Introduction to Beauty: Seek and Ye Shall Find

The Sistine Chapel

Pope Benedict XVI said when addressing a group of artists assembled at the Sistine Chapel:
Beauty, whether that of the natural universe or that expressed in art, precisely because it opens up and broadens the horizons of human awareness, pointing us beyond ourselves, bringing us face to face with the abyss of Infinity, can become a path towards the transcendent, towards the ultimate Mystery, towards God. [1]
Or to put it in reference to beauty:
God points us towards Beauty.
In our age of spiritual drought, these words from Matthew Chapter 7, verse 8 give encouragement:

Seek, and ye shall find.

What I am seeking in these chapters of Reclaiming Beauty is beauty itself. But my task is bigger than mere seeking. My task is to recover the beauty that our modern world has so meticulously and furtively discarded. This elimination of beauty has to be furtive because an attack on beauty is an attack on the way people live, or aspire to live, and any direct attack would ignite the wrath of citizens who are accustomed to having beauty around them. It is meticulous because a haphazard sweep would not be able to remove the overwhelming presence of beauty, and every corner has to be swept clean of this beauty that has become the fabric of society.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who survived years in a Soviet gulag, wrote [2]:
Dostoevsky once enigmatically let drop the phrase: "Beauty will save the world." What does this mean? For a long time I thought it merely a phrase. Was such a thing possible? When in our bloodthirsty history did beauty ever save anyone from anything? Ennobled, elevated, yes; but whom has it saved?

There is, however, something special in the essence of beauty, a special quality in art: the conviction carried by a genuine work of art is absolute and subdues even a resistant heart. A political speech, hasty newspaper comment, a social program, a philosophical system can, as far as appearances are concerned, be built smoothly and consistently on an error or a lie; and what is concealed and distorted will not be immediately clear. But then to counteract it comes a contradictory speech, commentary, program, or differently constructed philosophy - and again everything seems smooth and graceful, and again hangs together. That is why they inspire trust - and distrust.

There is no point asserting and reasserting what the heart cannot believe.

A work of art contains its verification in itself: artificial, strained concepts do not withstand the test of being turned into images; they fall to pieces, turn out to be sickly and pale, convince no one. Works which draw on truth and present it to us in live and concentrated form grip us, compellingly involve us, and no one ever, not even ages hence, will come forth to refute them.
People are often hard-pressed to define what constitutes beauty, or the beautiful for them. But they recognize it once they see it, and they desperately miss it when its not there.

Modern elites, working as the anti-beauty brigade, diligently work at putting ugliness on the same sliding scale as beauty [3]. They understand that there are different levels of beauty. Something pretty for example is a lower manifestation of beauty. But they know that ugliness is not on a lower hierarchical scale of beauty, and that it has its own separate criteria. They are succeeding in their quest because our civilization is the era of the atheist: a Godless age. They have introduced the cult of ugliness into our civilization, introducing a new language and new ideas to perpetuate their movement. They usurp beauty by reinventing language so that the ugly becomes labeled as beautiful, thus placing a shield across our eyes to prevent us from seeing the transformations.

Pope Benedict continuing with his speech in the Sistine Chapel said:
Too often, though, the beauty that is thrust upon us is illusory and deceitful, superficial and blinding, leaving the onlooker dazed; instead of bringing him out of himself and opening him up to horizons of true freedom as it draws him aloft, it imprisons him within himself and further enslaves him, depriving him of hope and joy.

It is a seductive but hypocritical beauty that rekindles desire, the will to power, to possess, and to dominate others, it is a beauty which soon turns into its opposite, taking on the guise of indecency, transgression or gratuitous provocation.
It is easier to convince Godless societies of the superiority of ugliness than societies where God has a presence. Modern elites separate God from the rest of society. Therefore even if ordinary citizens are believers and worshipers, their surroundings contradict and even negate those messages, and they lose the nimbleness necessary to finds words and arguments to counter the ugliness that surrounds them. Rather than march out in the world with sword and shield to confront ugliness, they give in, and withdraw in their homes to the comforts of their tchotchkes and embroidered cushions.

But beauty is never far away, and raises its eyes towards us at unexpected moments. It is in the lovely smile of a young baby, however dour and dark his mother may be; the budding of a wild flower through concrete cracks at the end of winter; the small shop which manages to decorate its window with color; the lush dresses which movie stars still wear, albeit once a year at competitive awards shows; the chef who works with compromising ingredients, but who produces small delicacies on a daily basis at his local restaurant; the artist who teaches classical painting at a night school since no arts program will hire him. These momentary visions encourage us to seek, and find more.

To seek is to realize that something is missing, something we are familiar with that we have either discarded, ignored, or that which has been taken away from us. It is the result of an emptiness, undefined in our case. Our civilization has reached that point of emptiness.

Our task, together with seeking what has bee lost, is to recognize that it is us who have caused those elements of beauty to disappear, by ceding too easily to the temptations and barriers brought before us. Next comes the arduous task of redefining the beauty we've lost, then reclaiming and recapturing this beauty back into our lives and our society. This is where we take on our Godly shield and sword to fight our existential battle with the dark forces of ugliness, and to rebuild our society, since we cannot do it alone. We may not be successful, and even if we are, beauty may never acquire the same level of sophistication and proliferation it once enjoyed in our lifetime, since took thousands of years to build. But, it would be far worse if we did nothing.

Bill Cunningham, a contemporary fashion critic who is uniquely appreciative of beauty said: "He who seeks beauty will find it. [4]" He may be too optimistic, but, his words are a variation on Matthew's "Seek and ye shall find." We cannot afford to be pessimistic, otherwise we will be pulled into the centrifugal forces of ugliness. Beauty needs our strength and our commitment to bring it back from the abyss.



1. Meeting with Artists. Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI. Sistine Chapel. November 29, 2009.

2. Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Nobel Lecture (1970)
Text published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 1972
Digitized and Formatted in HTML by The Augustine Club at Columbia University, 1999

3. Camera Lucida. The Destruction of Art by Artists. April 25, 2009

4. Camera Lucida. He who seeks beauty will find it. August 3, 2011