What Is the Function of Physical Beauty?
by Jeannie E. Roberts
form ever follows function ~
phrase coined by Louis Sullivan, American architect
A principle of twentieth century architecture contends
that the form or shape of a building or object should
follow its intended function. But what of physical
beauty's architecture? What is its function? Independent
of the mind and its internal workings, is beauty merely
ornamental, a pleasing aesthetic for the viewer?
Shelves, cabinets, and other holders of pretty things
display items for their visual appeal, for their capacity
to impress. Take crystal, used occasionally, functional
to some degree, but put back for its intended purpose:
to be viewed. In time, dust diminishes its gleam,
contributes to its waning luster. Like dust, followers
of physical beauty, those who cling to the pleasures,
attributes, and pleasing components of appearance,
are beholden only until the shine fades.
Once the actual dust of aging arrives, these followers
divorce themselves from their hosts, a death-‘til-beauty-
do-us-part scenario, a parasitic union of sorts.
If uselessness, or nearly so, has its function,
like that of an object strategically shelved for show,
does this also ring true for physical beauty? We wonder.
We’d like to know.
* * * * *
Jeannie E. Roberts has authored six books, including The Wingspan of Things, a poetry chapbook (Dancing Girl Press, 2017), Romp and Ceremony, a full-length poetry collection (Finishing Line Press, 2017), Beyond Bulrush, a full-length poetry collection (Lit Fest Press, 2015), and Nature of it All, a poetry chapbook (Finishing Line Press, 2013). Her second children's book, Rhyme the Roost! A Collection of Poems and Paintings for Children, was recently released by Daffydowndilly Press, an imprint of Kelsay Books, 2019. She is Poetry Editor of the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs. When she’s not writing or editing, you can find her drawing and painting, or outdoors photographing her natural surroundings.