2014 – National High School 3rd Place

Mary Kate Sullivan, Wasington.

Truth or Beauty

The entire world is caught up in a debate – does truth or beauty have a greater impact on society? To be honest, I think that this is similar to asking whether a fish or a shark has a greater right to swim the sea. A shark is a fish, and one of the more magnificent variety. Likewise, beauty is a type of truth; or rather the beauty of any object lies in its truth. Just as you may say that the “fish” has a greater right merely because the term is general and all-inclusive, though neither answer would be more or less correct, so you might say that truth has the greater impact – for that includes every facet and beauty is so particular.

The inherent beauty of anything is its truth. Think of the most beautiful place on earth. In my opinion, that would be Ireland. If I go to Ireland (for instance, to the Cliffs of Moher) the beauty that captivates me is nature. It is true beauty. I don’t have to evaluate everything; there is no need for something to be represented in order for me to appreciate its splendor. There is an intrinsic beauty in the scene: the cliffs, the sea, the foliage, etc. That is true beauty. Part of the attraction to art is in the artist painting, drawing, sculpting, etc., something realistic. As much as we love to see children’s drawings, and proclaim them to be beautiful, they are not necessarily when catalogues by the same definition of beauty by which we classify other things. (I speak of an ordinary child’s stick-figure drawing, not a prodigy’s masterpiece.) Were a child (an ordinary child) to paint a scene of a wild stallion galloping through an open valley, it would not be truly as beautiful as the same scene painted by a professional artist. The reason for this is, naturally, that the professional will have depicted it realistically and accurately, whereas the child will have left out minute details and painted certain features disproportionately. The beauty lies in the truth of the professional artist’s painting. Now, there is a very celebrated saying, which I am sure will be referenced many times in this debate: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This, I agree with. But it is a beauty of a different nature. Take modern art. I, personally consider modern art to be utterly hideous. However, putting my own eye aside, some find a beauty in it. But the beauty they find is not inherent. The whole point of modern art is to express the artist’s feelings or view. He may draw the same scene mentioned above, yet some features will be purposely distorted or disfigured or, perhaps in their mind, enhanced. But in order to appreciate it, one has to analyze it and discover exactly what the expression is. The true beauty is not in distortion – tat is unpleasing – it is in the interpretation.

This is why I believe that truth has a greater impact. It is the essence of beauty – without it, you cannot have beauty, yet the reverse is not true. The latter is an aspect of the former. So, while truth and beauty both play such important roles in society, my opinion is that the truth has a greater one.

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