Beauty and the Body

File:Study of a Kneeling Nude Girl for The Entombment.jpg

We are physical beings. This fact is so difficult–reminding us of death as it does–that it has led entire societies to reject the world and our place in it. People suspect that much of our mind is also physical, rooted in the body, and therefore on death that part of our thought is lost. Does any part of our consciousness survive, or do we face oblivion?

Actually, it was a comment by fellow-blogger Simon H. Lilly that got RT to thinking about this.

If beauty is recognised, felt, experienced as right, then that suggests a deep brain nerve path, as you say. We tend to think of that sense of rightness as equivalent to a spiritual perspective of the ‘true’, whereas it may just be the familiarity and ease of recognition of well-worn neural pathways. Yikes. Beauty, Truth, Justice, Ethics, Morality, etc all just a learned pattern of synaptic fireworks….

No one, I think, really wants this to be the case; don’t most of us prefer the thought that beauty is an eruption of truth, a proof of something existing beyond ourselves? And what about morality?


RT likes to eat his cake and have it too. Maybe there is something in this metaphor that can help us with our dilemma. What we really want is the impossible: a mind that is undeniably physical, at least in part, but a mind which also doesn’t disappear at death. How can we accomplish this? By taking as our premise the impossible: the mind is rooted in the body, but doesn’t decay after we die. And how can that possibly be true? Because matter is not dumb clay sitting in a brick-mold.

In fact, the greatest minds among us have failed to understand the physical universe. Look at particle physics: just what is the smallest possible particle? How do the particles work together? And here is a fearsome question:

Will mathematics actually be able to lead us to a full understanding of the universe?


RT has been picking away at a possible answer: the problem is that we lack a unified understanding and experience of the world. Maybe we need to start creating a discipline that unifies poetry and mathematics. Wow! Now we’re really chewing away at the magic cake while it continues to stare at us from the table.

How do we do this? Mathematics students need to start writing poetry as undergraduates and continue the practice lifelong. Poetry students need to start studying mathematics and read and understand three or four equations a day.

Then we need to get them all into a classroom talking about how the brain works.


RT prefers coconut creme pie, himself…what about you?


ImageStudy of a Kneeling Nude Girl for The Entombment; Michelangelo (1500-1501). WikiCmns; Public Domain.


  1. March 21, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    From the one to the ten thousand to the one….round & round we go, where we stop – who knows (from the great Buddhist poet, Ver Ti Go)

  2. March 21, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    Another question for you – what is consciousness? And what happens when the mind is compromised by illness or disease? Is there some core self that remains intact but unable to express itself in the physical? Ok, maybe three questions. 🙂

  3. March 21, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    Oh, and I like chocolate cake or lemon tart best 🙂

  4. March 21, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    folks: the reason i’ve drifted into such difficult terrain is that people seem to have reached a bottleneck in their evolution/progress–the fragmentation of knowledge, the rejection of traditional wisdom/answers, and the need for practical solutions to the pressing problems of overpopulation, pollution, and global militarization require a rethinking of the mainstream approach…radical problems require radical solutions (or at least thinking pretty far outside the box)…RT

  5. March 22, 2013 at 1:40 pm


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