Why Don’t I Like It?

by Peter

I’ve consistently felt a little guilty for not liking the prettiness of posh Orange County or of some made-up faces.  They’ve obviously been done up for the sake of something like beauty, and that’s the sort of thing I ought to like.

There’s always, of course, the Romantic avenue to be taken: I could insist that I like faces and buildings best when they exhibit a natural beauty.  But that route’s never felt quite satisfying to me.  What’s a natural building supposed to look like?  Man-made beautiful things aren’t inherently less beautiful than the non-man-made ones.

My next instinct is to say that those pretty things are less attractive to me because they’re less skillfully made.  This takes care of a good number of sloppy makeup jobs and unsuccessful outfits, but when you get to Orange County, it can’t be a lack of skill that makes it rather repugnant to me.  The things there are often made by some of the most talented artists and city planners anywhere.  They are pretty.

Then I want to say that it’s too pretty.  At that point, however, I think I’m talking nonsense.

Finally, however, I have found an explanation for the source of my distaste: one that isn’t itself distasteful to me.  I was talking to Chad about it all and said something like, “I think that I don’t like the OC prettiness because it seems like it exists for the sake of an ordinance.  Houses become adorned in such and such a way not because a person likes the house, but because of some rule that tells them to.  The process of the beautification of things doesn’t have the things it’s beautifying in mind.  It doesn’t look like someone looked at a house or lamppost and said, ‘Oh, I love you and want to make you beautiful.’   It’s more like ‘your fence is too tall, ma’am.’  It doesn’t have people’s hands in it.  It only has one person’s or one committee’s.”

It’s the same sort of thing with makeup jobs and outfits I don’t much like, I think.  It’s when people have taken some standardized idea of “how makeup or clothing should be” and slapped it on their bodies, rather than trying to find an adornment that suits their shape and color and/or an adornment that they like for its own sake.

I want the beautification of things to show evidence of having been done for the love of those things.