Opinion: We cannot escape the "duality of man" in our concept of beauty

The idea of pain should not be considered poetic, period. However, there is always a need for three-dimensional characters and emotions, even if the mere subject of agony should not come with a pillow of romance. In the same sense, though, the idea that artists have to be sad in order to make quality content has always frustrated me. I hate that when you tell someone that you are an artist they immediately stereotype you as struggling.

The unconventional relationship between “hurt” and “comfort” have come to represent this strange myth of a “suffering beauty.” In our society, we have grown up with contradicting ideas that plague our everyday lives. “Beauty is pain,” they say. However, as much as this should not be the case, it is. From the everyday woes of societal beauty standards we hold ourselves to to the unhealthy and scary weight loss advertisements we are force fed, being considered conventionally beautiful is painful. Of course, the duality of man easily explains this, but why is it we think that to be happy we must first be sad? If we want to create, why do we have to first be introduced to suffering?

I think what truly makes me upset about this subject is that it is practically proven that the “myth” of a tortured artist is almost not a myth at all. In fact, many people believe that in order to be a good artist you must go through many human emotions in order to properly convey a point. In the same vein, as Christopher Zara wrote in an article called "The Myth of the Tortured Artist – and Why It's Not a Myth," we need a kind of “poetic symmetry” in order “to convince even the stodgiest fatalist that the universe is not as cold and random as we perceive it to be.”

However, this is still a terrible thing that has to happen. In fact, the concept itself is quite depressing — and doesn't that just hit the nail on the head of poetic irony. But, even though there are gray areas, it seems a lot of the most beautiful things in the world fall into this yin and yang interaction. 

Maybe it is my weird fascination with the human condition, or a strange cliché I tell myself in order to deal with the pain of the world, but I think that – even though it sucks – happiness is the most profound after times of sadness, and the gentleness that can exist in time of chaos is truly stunning. Under the same umbrella though, I wish there would be no reason for sadness or cause for chaos. In the end, however, contradictions make up our world, and they can be beautiful, or terrible — and that's okay. 


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