Author Topic: The Most Beautiful Thing You Ever Did  (Read 882 times)

Lord J Esq

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The Most Beautiful Thing You Ever Did
« on: April 07, 2010, 12:49:17 am »
Well, what is it?

Lord J Esq

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Re: The Most Beautiful Thing You Ever Did
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2010, 03:32:16 am »
I didn't answer my own question right away because I was off writing something else. In fact I asked the question not with myself in mind but with some of my fictive characters. (The most salient answer, in that case, being the opinion of one character as to that of another character, a life-changing moment having occurred when he was being heavily criticized by the second character, who amid the scolding proceeded to redirect her attention at a third person who happened to concur with her criticism but herself was in concurrence for a reason which undermined the value of the concurrence; the first character therefore came to appreciate the distinction between honor-based versus opportunity-based alliance, and, more to the point, thereby learned some of the wisdom of knowing what is a distraction and what is not a distraction--for he had been rightly criticized, but his critic had not rightly been concurred with, and so easily could have taken that support yet willfully did not, even going so far as to rebuke the third party, bringing clarity to the fray and thus illustrating one of the principles of Illumination.)

(Upon reflection, that is not strictly a run-on sentence, thanks to the semicolon in the middle, but mooks could disagree on stylistic grounds of length. Stuff it, mooks!)

As for myself, I've given it a bit of thought now and I don't have an answer which leaps out immediately above all the rest. I can think of several, but none of them strikes me as most beautiful, and the artist in me demands that I not answer without fair confidence that my answer would indeed be the "most" beautiful thing. Also, I used the word "beautiful" rather than "greatest," so as not to confuse my intention before the rest of you; I desire here to know about beauty and not greatness per se. This weeds out several plausible candidates in my own history which depend more upon the glorious side of beauty at the neglect of beauty's fuller spectrum.

I will continue to deliberate.

Kodokami

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Re: The Most Beautiful Thing You Ever Did
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2010, 09:42:07 am »
What a fantastic thread.

Unfortunately, as with Lord J, I do not think I can confidently put one accomplishment above the rest. This conclusion mainly stems from my SOY title, "Where's [My] Beauty?," as it is more a question to myself and an answer I have yet to discover. But perhaps I have not given it enough consideration.

I believe everyone has a beauty, a quality of themselves and their actions that makes them unique. If I learn how to discern that beauty in others, it should set me on the path for doing the same with my own being. In any case, I will be giving Lord J's particular question more thought throughout the day, and see if I come up with anything.

EDIT: Giving it some thought, I have come to the belief that beauty cannot exist in singularity. What I mean by that is, something would be considered beautiful because of a combination of things and not just one in particular. It requires an action and a property, and not just one or the other.

Perhaps I'm not explaining correctly. What do you think?
« Last Edit: April 07, 2010, 10:50:15 pm by Kodokami »

Uboa

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Re: The Most Beautiful Thing You Ever Did
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2010, 11:39:13 pm »
I believe everyone has a beauty, a quality of themselves and their actions that makes them unique. If I learn how to discern that beauty in others, it should set me on the path for doing the same with my own being. In any case, I will be giving Lord J's particular question more thought throughout the day, and see if I come up with anything.

EDIT: Giving it some thought, I have come to the belief that beauty cannot exist in singularity. What I mean by that is, something would be considered beautiful because of a combination of things and not just one in particular. It requires an action and a property, and not just one or the other.

Absolutely.  Like a well composed painting or photograph, or any other artwork, the beautiful moments in life are often the ones where everything just "clicks", and all seems to be in a suitable place.  There is such a great synergy to real beauty, and within this synergy there have to be some aspects of ourselves which play into the art, or our company, or the moment itself.  From that synergy we can derive a truly awesome experience, and within that experience we may say that we feel "truly alive".

What I find interesting is how often our actions are capable of turning the most banal moments into beautiful ones.  For example, just a while ago I was annoyed at the fact that I have to write another routine to convert poorly structured ancient data into a more accessible format.  Sometimes I get stuck with the "housekeeping" where I work, but no matter.  I realized that writing the routine is yet another opportunity to practice my ability to converse with my computer, and the ability to converse with my computer is something which I've put much effort into being able to do artfully and appreciatively.  In doing so I've managed to find beauty in coding even the most routine procedures.

Kodokami, I often find myself amazed at the the thoughtful way in which you seek out beauty and aim to understand it.  And, Josh, I'm appreciative of this thread as well.  I've been brainstorming for a thorough response which will come later.  I hope that many more people will volunteer responses.

Zephira

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Re: The Most Beautiful Thing You Ever Did
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2010, 03:20:30 pm »
As an artist, I have trouble finding beauty in my own life unless it's put down on canvas, and I tend to think that my most beautiful moment will happen sometime in the future when I create my defining piece of artwork. The definition of "most beautiful moment" somewhat eludes me as well. It could be anything from a dramatic reunion with a long-lost love, to pulling off a well-deserved prank or other form of retribution on an adversary, to beating that godly high score in a video game. It has to be especially moving and victorious in some way, giving a sense of fulfillment to those included in the moment. The generality makes it hard to pin down. And, as an artist, I create beauty for others to judge, and have trouble judging my own. While there are things I'm particularly proud of, it's easier (and more fulfilling) for the audience to agree on what is most beautiful. As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

So instead of a singular, most beautiful moment (which I believe hasn't happened yet), I am left to ponder several smaller fulfilling events. And, of course, most of them deal with art.
The first thing to pop to mind is Z's birthday. It needed to be celebrated in some way, so I decided to paint a picture. Twelve hours later it was complete, but it felt like so much less time had passed. I learned a few new techniques, and I am still very proud of the picture. A similar thing happened one Friday last quarter when I sat down and opened photoshop in the morning, tossed in a few photos, and got so enthralled in the creative process that I completely forgot I had an appointment that night. This has happened on several other occasions with different art projects. What I find beautiful is how easily I can get completely entranced with a project. I can spend an entire day working on a project, sometimes longer than I stay awake on an average day, and think that only a couple hours have passed. It's almost like an out-of-body experience. Nothing exists but my eyes, the screen, the hand that holds the tablet pen, and my music.

In that same vein of getting carried away, I once wrote an essay on the anatomy, behaviour, and social structure of the Protoss in such detail that I was mistaken for a Korean. As nerdy as that is, it is one of my proudest moments thus far in life.

Sajainta

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Re: The Most Beautiful Thing You Ever Did
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2010, 04:26:32 pm »
I think the most beautiful thing I've ever done was protecting my family at great personal cost to myself, "back then" at 14 and 15.  I guess I'm defining beauty differently than anyone else.  I think there is nothing more beautiful than love, and I think the most powerful kind of love is a love that is selfless.

utunnels

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Re: The Most Beautiful Thing You Ever Did
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2010, 09:28:47 pm »
When I think about this question, I begin to feel my life is just plain. I can't find a thing that makes me feel proud.
 :lol:

FaustWolf

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Re: The Most Beautiful Thing You Ever Did
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2010, 10:00:06 pm »
Quote from: utunnels
When I think about this question, I begin to feel my life is just plain. I can't find a thing that makes me feel proud.
Beauty is, as they say, in the eye of the beholder. It's quite possible you've done something (or many things) that have really changed people's lives for the better, or opened up new possibilities and dreams.

That goes for everyone here, but I've been especially privileged to have observed some of utunnels' work in the fangame and modding scenes. His past accomplishments include assisting in the development of OpenBOR, a standalone game engine that lets budding developers create anything from brawler style games (think Streets of Rage or Golden Axe) to 2D action adventure games (think Castlevania). It's kind of like RPGMaker, but for action games, and without all the limitations. With OpenBOR's scripting engine a moderately skilled programmer experienced in C can hypothetically make the game engine do anything.

As for the future, perhaps there's some really awesome Chinese RPG that will knock everybody's socks off when they finally get to play it in English...thanks not only to utunnels' contributed bilingual knowledge, but to his willingness to develop professional-level game development tools. Hardly what I would call a "plain" life, by any stretch. But that's merely from my point of view as one beneficiary of utunnels' largesse.

The amazing thing is that it will take, like, 5 to 10 people with utunnels' dedication to make a volunteer project work, and by golly, it does happen from time to time. It gives me hope in humanity, and even causes me to question whether entire economies could be based on volunteer effort after all.

So, I hope the takeaway here is: something that might seem mundane or "all in a day's work" to oneself could have been life-altering and truly beautiful to other people. What is indubitably beautiful is the work of those people who created the Internet, which allows each of us to share our beauty with others regardless of location, for the first time in human history.

Yeah! I think this is worth a...
 :bison
« Last Edit: April 08, 2010, 10:10:40 pm by FaustWolf »

Lord J Esq

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Re: The Most Beautiful Thing You Ever Did
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2010, 10:15:30 pm »
That brings up a good point, Faust, which is how easily we are often prepared to talk about the beautiful actions of others, when compared with our readiness to talk about our own beautiful actions. Indeed, I cooked up this thread in an instance of the former, but specifically changed it to focus on the latter. I would hypothesize that, for all our good intentions, the ease with which we talk about others' beauty when compared to our own is a sign of our egotism--our readiness to hold others to a lower standard of beauty, while subjecting ourselves to greater scrutiny, the implication of which is that we take our experiences and actions more seriously (or, alternatively, that we wish to favor ourselves by appearing to favor others above ourselves). This is understandable, I think, as a natural ramification of our subjective nature, but it is something to consider for those who are on the road to Illumination, as ideally all of our premises would be made knowingly. I was talking about something similar with Rushingwind last night.

At any rate I was unprepared to answer my own question, and I'm deliberating it still, after the topic has been here for a couple of days. In not having a ready reply, I certainly have been humbled in any temptation I might have had to divert my response and this topic into a discussion of what I think is other people's most beautiful actions. I do think the more revealing thing would be for us to speak only for ourselves, and not take this topic as an opportunity to praise others. All of which is a very circuitous way of me suggesting (hopefully with a suitable explanation provided) that your praise of utunnels is kindly, but distracting. =)

On the other hand, it gave me the occasion to write this, so neither was it strictly off-topic. =P

utunnels

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Re: The Most Beautiful Thing You Ever Did
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2010, 10:55:38 pm »
Thanks Faust. :D
Yeah, to me, interests determine everything, especially on the Internet. When I'm interested by something, I come, and when I run out of interests, I leave. So for years I've been wandering around and haven't finished a work that really pleased me.
An ambitious fan project dies easily without a stable team and a mighty leader, that is so true.

FaustWolf

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Re: The Most Beautiful Thing You Ever Did
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2010, 12:48:51 am »
In response to J: I  think it well worth pointing out in the context of this thread that each of us may be beautiful in ways we might not immediately appreciate on a first-person basis. There are, perhaps, both internally subjective and externally subjective components of beauty. Is one superior to the other? It is a rhetorical question after all: We must each live for our own satisfaction, and at the same time we are a pre-eminently social species, and therefore our effects on others surely must count for something.  

Furthermore, how can one tell if something is most beautiful, out of all the things one has done, if external subjectivity is thrown into the mix? Maybe it's impossible and we must leave it at that, but perhaps greater minds than mine here will find a way to explore that specific question and devise a satisfying conclusion.


Keeping this internal/external train of thought in mind, I will venture two things of beauty I can say I have done -- one solely for my own amusement and inspiration from which no other person has benefited, and one I've done with benefit to another as a specific goal.

The first item is a romance scene in a longer fictional work. Now, I am totally not into romance novels and such usually, which is why the prospect of the polished scene not completely sucking (judged by my own standards, at least) meant very much to me. I call it "beautiful" because it perfectly encapsulated my expectations regarding true love; and furthermore, I did not quite realize I held certain attitudes toward true love until I had captured my innermost feelings in art. In that way, I discovered that art is just as much about communicating with oneself as it is communicating with others. Quite the revelation for me at the time.

The second item was making someone laugh. That somebody was a special needs student I had mentored during my junior and senior years in high school; as you might imagine, the guy suffered quite a bit at the hands of his peers and depression became a concern that cropped up all too frequently. There was this one teacher who was always able to make him laugh, and I really envied that ability to cut into somebody's life sorrow and replace it with something that didn't suck, even if just for one shining moment. The teacher retired in my junior year, so there was this, vacancy of laughter that seemed to threaten this student's life experience; and to keep what threatens to be a melodrama short, I finally succeeded in filling the hole left by that teacher on my last day as a high school student. I count that final tutoring session as my crowning high school moment, suspecting that that one day meant more to the tutee than all the multiplication tables and English skills I had taught him.

I was trying to segregate these two experiences according to internal and external effects, but in the end, I guess, I really can't honestly do so. I'd like to think the second item meant as much to the tutee as I believe it did, but in the end I'm merely transplanting my own interpretation of the event onto him. Perhaps these two events seem most beautiful to me because they represent clear instances of my own growth as a human being, and I would tend to label growth a thing of beauty.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2010, 03:26:23 am by FaustWolf »

Uboa

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Re: The Most Beautiful Thing You Ever Did
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2010, 12:59:51 am »
(I had typed this up before I noticed that Faust had posted!  But, I've yet to notice anything which comes across as out-of-line in light of what he posted, so...)

What I am about to say is certainly not to diminish the beauty of anything that has been said so far!  I just wanted to remind or make people aware of the distinct difference between perceiving something as beautiful and holding it in high esteem.  While holding something or someone in high esteem can often help contribute to your perception of its or their beauty, it is not the same thing.  I suppose that it could be on the right occasion, but esteem is much more rooted in the sense of ethics, while beauty seems more an all-encompassing perception rooted in both sensory and abstract faculties.  

A perfect example of a beautiful experience just occurred over here!  I've been listening to Radio Paradise for the past few days, and I love it.  I've already discovered many new musicians and tracks to track down over the internet!  But, I digress.  The beautiful moment which I mentioned simply amounted to the DJ saying, "And now we have a track from Steven Wilson."  Just hearing the name "Steven Wilson" in the context of a radio broadcast is enough to make me melt.  I hold Steven Wilson in very high esteem.  I think that he's a beautiful person in many ways, that he's put a tremendous amount of effort into finding a musical formula that works brilliantly, and that he's one of the most wonderfully lyrically expressive musicians alive today.  This esteem makes hearing his music or (hah) even just his name on the radio almost overwhelming.

When Faust deems utunnels' actions beautiful, I'm sure that the anticipation or the memory of playing engrossing translated RPGs, or doing any other number of amazing things along those lines, is not far from his mind.  I think he says as much at the end of his post:  "[ S]omething that might seem mundane or 'all in a day's work' to oneself could have been life-altering and truly beautiful to other people. What is indubitably beautiful is the work of those people who created the Internet, which allows each of us to share our beauty with others regardless of location, for the first time in human history."  The rich, beautiful experiences as a result of utunnels' actions indeed lend the perceptions of his actions their own beauty, as does the beauty of rejoicing in the fruits of such labor and sharing them with the world.

I suppose that this was mostly in reply to J's post, as I felt that the distinction I aimed to clarify above became unnervingly blurry in his point about holding others to lower standards of beauty than ourselves.

Edit:  I went back and read J's earlier posts, and realized that he did distinguish between beauty and greatness.  Apologies if that seemed unduly directed at you then, J.  I did feel like the distinction had become muddled as the thread had progressed.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2010, 01:43:21 am by Uboa »