A dead, beautiful thing

Say, you find a dead thing. You look at it and say, ‘this is a dead thing’. You take it to your house on a collector’s impulse and put it under the tap. You wash the dead thing and you go, ‘holy moly, it’s gold.’

Now the dead thing is beautiful. You start thinking that if you also pair the gold with a diamond, then it will be something bigger, for sure.

We surround ourselves with cultural metaphors on a daily basis. We categorize. We separate the chaff from the wheat. We learn the art of distinction. We go to a museum, sporting our special dead thing on our finger, and start offering educated critique on art. We’re invested in beauty. We think.

And yet.

Looking at my cards today, and getting in the mood for the January tarot prompts cycle on beauty, I question what we value: the experience of discovery, the fact all our discoveries come with a tag, so we know what’s what, or the tag itself, so we know what sells?

As a Zen inclined person, I already have the answer to this question, as I see that all discovery leads to more discovery, including meta-discovery, which is the situation when we realize that what we call discovery is nothing but a word meant to get us in a heightened state of excitement.

What do we call a dead thing for which we need 5 spades to excavate, and what happens when we wash the bones?

Tarot de Louttre B, 1981

Value is created by scarcity, and the idea of beauty has been constructed along the lines of scarcity. We say, ‘only few people are truly beautiful’, ‘only a few minerals are sparkly,’ ‘only a few dwellings can be at the top of a block,’ ‘only a few climb the Everest,’ ‘only a few earn the 7-figure,’ ‘only a few are competent magicians,’ ‘only a few encounter the Devil….’ And it is all beautiful.

Here’s what I’m thinking prompted by the cards today: I’ll go wash the dead thing, and instead of getting excited when I see that it starts to sparkle, I’ll listen to the water. Just maybe, there’s beauty in that, beauty that arises spontaneously, in the experience of referencelessness.

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One thought on “A dead, beautiful thing

  1. psarapsych says:

    Yes… It is the thing that is happening in actual experience. Water running, wet fingers, a thing being washed. The beauty is in the being.

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