Monday, March 1, 2010

The power beauty

The difference between an object and a subject is a connection. Although some people people do not like to admit it, those who are not known and not close to us, are not important to us. This is not because we necessarily dislike them or have hard feelings towards them, but simply because to know every person and every thing intimately is simply not possible. As a result, there are plenty of things that humans are simply callous about, but this is out of necessity. If one were to find a human body washed up on shore, in todays society that person may call the police and file a report, but once that was complete, it would be out of sight and out of mind. Should that body resemble someone they care about though, then the situation would be completely different because a vested interest would exist. This is simply human nature. So when a body of an unusually large man found its way to shore and the entire village found a connection with this man, it was not a very usual event.

"The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World", written by Gabriel Marquez, is a story of just that, a village that discovered the body of a man of unmistakable beauty. When the body is first found, it is by the children. They believe it to be an enemy ship, and then when they find it to have no flags, they believe it to be a whale. Upon discovering it to be a body, they begin to play with it; burying the body and then digging it up again.

The town, being a small town of twenty families, soon discovers the bodies presence and has it brought into a house to be cleaned and prepared for burial. The men head out to see if they can find any relatives of the man, while the women stay behind to clean the body. At first, the women are astonished at what they find at cleaning up this large man. They first notice that he did not die a lonely death at sea as many other men, and that he also did not die a death in a river. Then they realize that he was the tallest, strongest, most virile, and best built man. So amazing in fact, that he did not seem to fit into the home within their minds.

The women first began to build him up in their minds, the perfect man with a house enormous enough to fit him, and a bed made from a midship frame. The women begin to build him up as one of the greatest men to have lived and even dismiss their own husbands as being lowly. It here that the first connection is made. The women name him Esteban. Esteban is another way of saying Stephen, which is the name of one who is king, or crowned one. And he was viewed and treated as one. The women first try to clothe him with the biggest clothing they have, but this does not work, so they end up sewing him his own clothing. As the women continue to imagine how he lived, they begin to picture fighting over him and they are unable to fully appreciate the man he was, and so they create new stories; stories of a man who had to duck at every doorway, and could not remain in anothers house for long. They began to make him more human and pity him for his inability to live a normal life, being as strong and large as he was.

The women first elevated Esteban to a idol, but upon realizing that they felt intimidated, they bring him back down to their level, that a connection might be formed that they love the man Esteban once was. Although they have no clue as to who Esteban was, or of his real name, they are blissfully content.

Upon the return of the men, they are quick to desire to toss the body of Esteban to sea, but when they discover, due to their wives continued placing of treasures and tributes with the body, that he was a very handsome and amazing man, they are shocked and a connection is made. The men now feel a connection with the man and decide to hold a proper funeral for the man, spreading the word across the land; that their village might one day be called Esteban's Village.

While initially there is no connection to this body, the beauty of the now dead Esteban allows the village to form a connection with this man they never knew. A complete stranger is redefined as a man from their village. The idea that beauty transcends the barrier of simple objects and allows for the creation of a subject. This is a part of the human condition; beauty creates a connection.