Monday, November 17, 2008

Brains Conquer Beauty?

While reading in the library today, I happened upon a copy of "Sacred History Magazine" that was on the table I was sitting at. As I was flipping through the pages, I came across an advertisement that caugt my attention. The title read, "Brains Conquer Beatuy." Apparently some scientists have discovered a way to make fake diamonds that "look even better than the vast majority of mined diamonds." They go on to state that "only experienced diamond appraisers...are able to make the distinction between a flawless natural diamond and the scientifically perfect" model from the lab.

I have seen real diamonds before. They are a beautiful stone. Held to light they are dazzling and contain colors that can shock even a creative imagination. yet I wonder if the claim of "perfection from the laboratory" is not bordering on some deeper concept. It would seem important to remember that these lab diamonds , however wonderfully cut and clear, are still, at best, good imitations. I am not raising an indictment of the product or ones like it, which seem to be visually pleasing, but the fact that it is still a lab diamond makes it very different from a real diamond. Functionally, in sight and quality, for what it is, the lab diamond may be superb. Yet there is something tragic in the claim to have "cracked the code" of beauty. It reduces something beautiful to a mere function, in this case, a matter of appearance. Value, then, is found in the quality of the imitation. My fiance, Melissa, is very, very beautiful. If cloning does eventually come about, and scientists in a lab somewhere begin advertising that 'brains have conquered beauty; we now have the ability to produce copies of Melissa at a low cost that is just as radiant as the original, but that does not ever get ill or grow tired.' How profoundly hideous!

The good news here, folks, is that it is impossible to do this, because no lab could reproduce the subtlety or mystery or complexity, or any of the numberless qualities that work into what makes the brilliance of Melissa. With the lab replicas of diamonds, scientists have an easier job than this. They do not have to make up for the mystery of the human soul. But they still have the tall, and in my opinion impossible, order of replicating the mystery of what makes a diamond truly beautiful. Can the lab re-create the awe and wonder that the seemingly chaotic pressures and forces in the earth could arrange something that is at the same time so delicate and yet so immensely strong? Can they copy the wonder that God would make room in his plan for something so seemingly gratuitous as this? The lab attempts to give the spledour of reality to an imitation. i ask, however, if it is better to merely experience, even if for a fleeting moment, something real, or to have possession and permanence of merely a dream?


Gabriel said...

Is Beauty dependent on mystery? Or are the advertisers (Stauer if I remember correctly) wrong because their claim is self defeating in admitting that their product is just like the real thing? Interestingly enough, my parents ordered one of those replica diamonds and ended up sending it looked fake they said. =]

Hayden said...

Here I use "mystery" as a way of referring to those qualities we know are there but cannot name. They are the composite qualities that distance the replica from the real thing. Whereas beauty is not dependent on mystery, it seems that the advertisement's fault is in claiming that there really isn't a difference between their product and the actual object.

Gabriel said...

I suppose then that the question would be: "What is the nature of those qualities that we know are there but cannot grasp". Do you have time this friday?

Hayden said...

Unfortunately not, I am taking some time to jollificate with a few friends.