Posts Tagged ‘elaine scarry’

Structures of accountability for violence

July 15, 2014

To understand the feedback loops that restrain people from acting out in violence, we have to understand the impetus towards violence as well. In war it is at its most nebulous, a group dynamic with an official rationale towards which individual participants are sure to harbor deep ambivalence. Is it boredom and ambition that propels them toward the action, under the banner of a political cause?

Elaine Scarry rejects various intellectual arguments about the sociological, cultural, historical or moral necessity of war: “even if they were valid, they would not have shown the necessity of war, but instead would only have shown the necessity of a ‘contest based on a reciprocal activity that would produce a nonreciprocal outcome abided by all.'” She characterizes war violence as an engine of dramatization for national fictions with an ethos requiring that bloody contests take place, as if the violence enacted were ritual rather than pragmatic.

Troy

She cites scholars of social theories that construct war violence as a central function of statecraft as advocates of such ritual purges. Carl Schmitt interprets Hegel’s use of the word ‘bourgeois’ as a pacifist of the following type: “an individual who does not want to leave the apolitical riskless private sphere,” and hopes that his personal resources for self-sufficiency through property ownership “excepts him from conflicts which will, despite his absence, nevertheless take place.”

He attributes pacifism to cowardice, “decadence, the demise of self-belief, the exhaustion of a conception of nationhood, propertied self-exemption from conflict and from self-renewal.” Tocqueville likewise believed the “intellectual creativity of a population and its readiness to go to war are related.” War is associated with initiative and drive, with the intelligence for strategy and the tenacity for tactics, with lust for adventure and pride in distinguished service. Violence tests us against one another, and when orchestrated on a grand scale it tests societies at large.

Scarry finds psychopathology at the root of this view of nationalism. “The dream of an absolute, one-directional capacity to injure those outside one’s territorial boundaries, whether dreamed by a nation-state that is in its interior a democracy or a tyranny, may begin to approach the torturer’s dream of absolute nonreciprocity, the dream that .. one’s opponents will be kept in a state of radical embodiment by its awareness that it is at any moment deeply woundable.”

glaber_and_spartacus_poster

Here she is drilling down to the microcosm of individual killings within a war zone, the acts of wounding, the moral significance of attacking a fellow human being in cold blood. This focus on the depravities of war gets to the heart of the question, but it is not enough to suspect everyone of harboring some shadow of a torturer’s fantasy inside. The fantasy itself must be deconstructed, its immature or nascent forms recognized in other acts.

I’ve done so with a “sadistic curiosity matrix” that maps four attitudes towards the intersubjective occurring on a fluid continuum from compassion to brutality. In this frame of reference torture is an extreme case of a normal social behavior, receptiveness testing, and it involves a slide towards ego-mania and preoccupation with threat receptiveness. It has parallels in the receptiveness testing of aggressive seduction, and anti-parallels in the cognitive and social process of taking a compassionate interest in another’s affairs.

curiosity matrix

I believe this kind of mental map can be used to normalize the psychodynamics of torture and to naturalize the psychopathology of violence. I think the normative claim “I would never intentionally be hurtful or cruel to anyone” is risky – you have to stop asking yourself “do you believe in absolutes like good and evil?” and start asking yourself, “do you believe in uncompromised evil?” In reality it is no more than an actualization of a universal potential in human nature.

Object relations theory can adapt this sort of mental map to the consumerist sphere of cause and effect, the civilian side of exposure to violence in a contemporary nation-state. Neoliberalism’s moral externalities are rather succinctly explained in George Bernard Shaw’s preface to On the Rocks. “Now the central fact of all these facts is that the private proprietors have irresponsible powers of life and death in the State.”

As to discouraging cruelty per se from a position of power through leadership, he writes “No doubt many private amiabilities have been inspired by this teaching; but politically it has received no more quarter than Pilate gave it.” And amiabilities are contingent on convenience factors – we owe them first and foremost to our personal associates, with whom they are more sincere.

In the evolution of Roman law, private tort suits among individuals who could afford access to the courts dominated the field and criminal law was often prosecuted privately (by the victim’s family, in the case of murder) as well. The first public offense was treason, and public resources were not directed much towards prosecuting crimes among individual citizens. “Self-help” was a protected power – the right to use violence to defend one’s property and life, and by default it was protected best in the propertied classes that could afford to litigate.

claudius_glaber

Contemporary law’s primitive origins still show in the way domestic violence is handled as a special case of assault, and domestic disturbances are handled as nuisance complaints by authorities who would rather be responding to a burglary call. Property owners have considerable leeway at home to characterize guests as intruders and resort to violence to control their turf.

Housing insecurity is a major cause of chronic exposure to domestic violence, and one about which no victim’s advocacy group is up in arms. It inhibits victims who might otherwise testify against their assailants, and the preconceptions police bring to the crime scene are merely pessimistic – that this case will be bad for the department’s performance metrics because it won’t produce a conviction, that it should be classified as a nuisance complaint rather than an assault.

“Direct incentives for safety outcomes tend to drive near-miss reporting underground.” – Taking the Lead in Patient Safety

Most murders are committed by someone known to the victim, often someone with a history of assault. You’d think the police would be more forward-looking about crime statistics and take advantage of any opportunity to break up a domestic violence cycle with “no contact” orders and public prosecution. Direct incentives for reductionist performance metrics like response times and conviction rates are probably to blame for their general reluctance to investigate a domestic disturbance closely.

police

My mother was arrested on the insistence of an arson investigator who seemed to have had access to better training for investigative work than the police officers who attended the crime scene. He was there to determine whether homeowner’s insurance covered the fire damage, and I suspect the insurance industry subsidized training in his department the better to discourage insurance fraud.

Homeowner’s insurance no longer covers domestic violence cases, a loophole for financing medical attention and litigation that was closed just when divorce law was reformed in the 1980s and demand for such services could be expected to increase as exit from abusive marriages became easier. There is virtually no market for private litigation covering domestic violence cases outside divorce court to this day, because a private attorney would have low expectations of recovering damages out of which he or she could be paid – absent alimony, out of which the lawyer could take a percentage as fee.

Hence the bottleneck at public prosecutors’ offices, and the low conviction rates for assailants in domestic violence cases. Self-aggrandizing behavior involving threat displays, bullying and outright brutality is shockingly easy to get away with behind closed doors.

Somatization and the sociology of health

June 15, 2014

I’ve written about pain-silencing dynamics in this blog before, but not pain-simulating phenomena, partly because I was uncomfortable with exploring the distinction.

Naming sense perceptions doesn’t feel like a reflective process, the labels are intuitive, pre-conscious, self-evident. Somatization is a radical critique of that accomplishment in self-assessment, a formal medical negation of the patient’s authority on what is of the body, and what is of the imagination, instead. In the treatment of chronic pain, somatization is the verdict that the patient’s mind is inducing or confabulating discomfort where there is no organic cause.

Somatization is strongly associated with a history of violent victimization, anxiety disorders, depression and ongoing relationship problems. Vicious cycles and chronic vulnerabilities are characteristic of the natural history of this psychological disturbance. The body registers complaints that are posited to be more psychosocial in nature, wincing so hard it hurts, so to speak.

The social determinants of health are best represented in a flow chart of interdependent factors promoting wellness or vulnerability, respectively. Their interdependence makes slipping into a “poverty trap” of mutually reinforcing vulnerabilities a very likely and treacherous outcome, especially for victims of family violence denied a healthy foundation of psychosocial and socioeconomic support. The situational drivers of somatization are typically chronic in nature, representing very real and concrete barriers to health and well-being.

social-determinants-of-health-flow-chart

Like stigmata, somatization announces itself ingloriously as a demonstrative and intractable discontent. Sternbach’s 6 D ‘s of Chronic Pain Syndrome are:

• Dramatization of complaints
• Drug misuse
• Dysfunction/disuse
• Dependency
• Depression
• Disability

The first bullet in this list grabbed my attention when I was reading about chronic pain. A pain patient who has resorted to dramatization in encounters with doctors is someone, I think, who is rebelling against silencing pressures and trying to “dumb down” the explanation of onslaughts from an invisible enemy within to a willfully obtuse audience. Pain is nothing if not acutely real to the patient, and being told that it’s a psychological phenomenon is profoundly frustrating.

But chronic pain ebbs and flows, and can be exacerbated by psychosocial triggers and cues. Body memories, bone bruises and imperfectly healed fractures blur together in a continuum of sub-clinical, psychologically amplified complaints that confound general practitioners leery of drug-seeking behaviors in agitated patients whose problems are clearly complex and chronic. The absence of a billing mechanism for assault injuries (there’s no insurance for that) further muddies the waters and breeds mistrust between doctors and patients.

social-determinants-of-health

Word games and silencing strategies are difficult to disentangle from mindless routines and cynical billing mechanisms in clinical practice. Institutional violence and interpersonal violence are related, in the form of services gaps, prohibitive transaction costs for prosecuting assault cases and stigmatizing victim stereotypes. When an assault victim is diagnosed with somatization, a dead end of sorts has been reached in the Kafkaesque labyrinth of impersonal mechanisms for redressing ill-health and ongoing vulnerability to revictimization.

In a discussion of political torture, Elaine Scarry describes the dyadic dynamics of oppressive violence as ritualistic in use of interrogation modes – “the question” is socially constructed as “the motive” and “the answer” is ritually interpreted as “the betrayal” and provocation for further violence. She notes that political torture employs interrogation routines even when the motive is punitive and information-gathering is not at issue. She defines torture as a demonstrative use of power and fiction aimed at achieving psychological abnegation in the victim.

Chronic interpersonal violence simulates this dynamic in a mundane microcosm of entrapment strategies and multidimensional abuse. Verbal self-assertion is punished with physical assault, and victim-blaming tropes are mobilized to suppress any effort to redress injury or standing threats.

Somatization of repressed complaints is a common outcome, carrying the radical embodiment of memories of wounding to tautological extremes. What is not to be spoken of is nevertheless etched in awareness like writing on the back of an eyelid, garish and surreal.

Rape myth research gives a typology of generalizable victim-blaming misconceptions:

• Victim masochism (they enjoy it or want it)
• Victim precipitation (it only happens to certain types of women)
• Victim fabrication (they lie or exaggerate)

The officially fabricated nature of somatic complaints adds insult to injury in confrontation with clinical practice. The search for answers is turned back on the victim’s propensity for attention-seeking behaviors rather than their vulnerability to wounding.

If the psychosocial triggers of somatization include cohabiting relationship violence, housing insecurity is outside the doctor’s purview and the result can be a treatment plan that second-guesses the patient’s most pressing anxieties (by bringing the patient’s sanity into question) and only promotes further repression and dissociation. I’ve had this experience as a patient who was in treatment for complaints driven by family violence while I was still living with my abuser.

Isolation, monopolization of attention, induced emotional exhaustion, threats, occasional indulgences to motivate compliance, demonstrative omnipotence, degradation and the enforcing of trivial demands to develop a habit of compliance have been identified as systematic mechanisms of oppression in penal institutions that violate human rights (from Biderman’s chart on penal coercion in a 1973 Amnesty International Report on Torture). These are generic stratagems for psychological abnegation that can be reproduced in any cohabiting relationship in which dependency for instrumental support simulates conditions of captivity. They promote dissociation and somatic illusions that are pervasive and easily triggered by proximate fears.

The salience of somatization is more clear to me now that I have my own place and can put significant social distance between myself and my family. Ironically, what used to register as an oppressive label and a silencing strategy on the part of empty handed service providers now has a liberating effect on my sense of self-efficacy in coping with chronic pain.

For me, overcoming somatization involves awareness of confirmation bias in my own thinking, and of the way muscles tense uncomfortably when further pain is anticipated as a logical sequelae of the assertion “this pain I am experiencing is real.” As long as I can register a passing discomfort as genuine without seizing on anticipation that it will persist, I can cope with sensations that used to be more persistent and more sensitive to triggers of the uncanny.

Discomforts that used to be frightening to me now register as familiar but transient, reminders of long-healed bruises rather than urgent alarms about seemingly unremediated harms. I’m finally comfortable with interpreting the pain as a metaphor, a physical expression of feelings that have significance even if they aren’t “organic” in nature.

Pain-silencing dynamics

February 14, 2013

In The Body in Pain, Elaine Scarry explains why social pressure to hide pain can be so profound that in a tragic drama like Alkestis, the bereaved husband can be imagined suppressing his fresh heart-break because of the presence of an unexpected house guest. He hides his loss out of sheer terror that making his unhappiness known would bring his household into disgrace.

Would you like it better if I drove my guest away?
I’d look like I don’t know the rules of civility!
It would just add another layer of pain,
to have my house called inhospitable.

Scarry’s focus is on phenomenology, and how pain violates the barrier between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ the body in disturbing ways that invoke the social anxieties of public/private dualism, loaded with suspicions of secrecy and misdirection. At the same time, she reveals how pain-silencing habits are unthinking responses.

We tend to shush people in pain impulsively, irrespective of the circumstances. This can be a comfort to the person so reassured that the fear behind their cries is needless now, but in chronic pain it is an effort to stem constancy and move the subject away from regrets.

The_missing_3

Early in the book, she rattles off various kinds of ways in which we silence one another’s expressions of pain – many of them unwritten rules, but taken together, a terrifying system of redundancies warning us forcefully not to cry out. Separated into a bullet list from the paragraph in question, these pain-silencing dynamics include:

  • Pain is a feeling that an “enemy” force has been internalized, violating the self’s integrity and making expression of pain a self-betrayal; to admit to feeling pain is a corruption of the will to resist defeat
  • Pain’s internal location implicating one’s own body in the cause of suffering; to believe in the existence of psycho-somatic pain is to fling skepticism in the face of every sufferer (e.g., ‘why don’t you try to take your mind off it?’)
  • Pain that does not let up is totalizing, a distraction from both the self and the environment, while pain that is “chronic” will return whenever your guard is down even if at times you can take your mind off it
  • Pain is unreal to others, in the sense that it is unshareable unless it is separately reproduced for the observer’s benefit (which they would not exactly welcome), and when its reality is held in doubt by observers, this doubles the aversiveness of hurt with the psychological aversiveness of being disbelieved
  • Pain can subvert the ability to communicate at all, monopolizing language in desperate complaint, or even overwhelming the psyche to the point that it is no longer verbally articulate
  • Pain expression that is convincing is obscenely humiliating, because it conflates the privacy of felt-experience with the utterly public experience of disability, handicap or complaint about punishment; the sufferer may expose his feelings to others, but this does not change the fact that they frankly prefer not sharing these feelings he has exposed, and if confronted about this, they offer recriminations like “misery loves company”

You could probably add scar-jealousy to this list, too; the listener’s suspicion that tall tales about a scratch have been embellished out of pride. Think of the scene in Mountains of the Moon when the great explorers strip to show their scars with jealous pride. But for all the good humor in theatrical bursts of enthusiasm for glory, like Henry’s Saint Crispin’s Day speech, pain is a grim topic even as the evidence behind “very true adventure” stories.

This makes the topic of pain silencing a sharp comment on complacency about a particular category among the “frontiers of justice” Martha Nussbaum identifies as intrinsic to neoliberal ethics, the disability stigma that reinforces any socioeconomic disempowerment that physical or intellectual disability entails for the injured, or otherwise crippled.

Silencing of expressed needs is a common element between the disability group and other frontiers of justice she identifies, such as childhood, animal status in an environment controlled by humans, and dependency on savings or “social security” in old age. It is the mutually reinforcing system of norms in neoliberal society that renders these frontiers weak in egalitarian principles and regressive in politics. In each group, status before a justice system that deters cruelty from violence and from neglect is jeopardized by monetary destitution or vulnerability to it.

As Richard says in The Legend of the Seeker, “if there’s one thing I learned from Denna, it’s how to suffer in silence.” It works, in some sense. Pain silencing isn’t the sort of discipline even a redeemed Mord Sith like Cara makes a consistent effort to unlearn. She’d know that would be inefficient, if not suicidal considering the amount of danger their quest is always putting them in.

Compared to competent resolve, maudlin self awareness is petulant unless you couldn’t have known better, and still the prelude to disaster, if so.

To have to assert pain in self-expression is thus a sign of desperation, risking every level of social rejection, from the casual to the insistent.

And even among helping professionals fully aware of the risk of misalliance in empathy and sympathy between care giver and recipient, a conceptual grasp of the danger of furthering the problem one offers to resolve may not make any difference.

Scarry’s book draws attention to the puzzling problem of ‘pain skepticism’ among medical professionals, deep-seated and difficult to square with modern standards of ‘compassionate care’. Strange that doctors, of all people, are characteristically unable to credit self-reported pain. But they, too, tend to chalk it up to a question of efficient use of emotional energy, a need for stamina and cool-headed precision when they make their evaluations.

She suggests they might also be thinking wistfully that a machine’s biomarker readings are unsullied by the voices of those bringing them to moral exhaustion in crying competitions, each trying to insist “me first!”

Doctors have few drugs besides mildly noxious placebos, and built a regrettable reputation with opiates a few hundred years ago, so today’s care givers are more cautious to suspect patients of attention-seeking, though not all that much different from Phaidra’s nurse in the age of Euripides. They feel that many people beset with loneliness and despair come to meet them for personal reasons, and submit to being given a physical exam or having their blood drawn for the courtesy of being introduced.

This makes it tempting to reduce all complaints that result in a second visit to the same doctor to the category ‘psychosomatic pain’ rather than reassessing one’s introductions, already difficult to remember by the time the patient is seen again.

tokyo_bunny

This may not follow from the knowledge that the nervous system’s pain-signaling apparatus is inseparable from the ‘subjective’ experience of pain in the mind, even if it is not obvious how the pain-signal was mechanically produced.

But if the typical patient stops coming back for additional efforts to address the same complaint from the physician, whatever one has been doing for the patients lately seems to have worked.

On beauty and being just

July 23, 2012

The immaterial is only the least common denominator in the world, not the sum of its parts. Yet art has escapist attractions for artists in the way work on it suppresses attention to the difference between the material and the transcendent. Without a striving towards beauty it can seem hard to maintain a will to live, surrounded by indifferent fears that prefer neither risk-taking nor passive resistance.

Yet that attraction and escapist charisma with which beauty as a pursuit overwhelms any other attentional bias is dangerous, too. Of all the visual tropes in The Flowers of War, the musical instrument strings a girl tries to retrieve from outside the safety of a church in a war zone are the most memorable for me, at least apart from the use of the stained glass windows. If even a more lighthearted adventure is not complete without a celebration of beauty worth fighting for, the convention only confirms in what sense there can be something frightful and imposing about an achievement in art itself.

That fear is for the audience, and not the artist purportedly consumed by his preoccupation with that work.

This makes it possible for the appearance of art as such in a drama to feel especially confrontational thanks to the work done by cameras to guide the attention of the audience through a story and its elements, a confrontation that is gendered if adventure and the idea of a damsel in distress are part of the plot.

The_Flowers_of_War_poster

The effect of art within a feature film can be visual without relying on the introduction of a painting within the frame of a cinema reel, such as the role of theater in Alatriste, or the beauty of graceful swashbuckling itself when staged for camera. These instances are different in effect from staging a play within a play, no matter how aesthetically imposing the feature film’s production design within which other works of art are to be found.

When such a confrontation is gendered the audience quickly becomes self-conscious about the implications its effect seems to entail for the way they live their own lives. But why are appearances so important to us when we memorize many ways of remarking that they are misleading? Eckhart Tolle begins the book A New Earth with a case for beauty as an end in itself rather than a selfish gene’s ploy to seduce a pollinator (flowers) or a mate of its own kind (peacocks, us). The author describes recognizing the beauty of a flower as a way of provoking contemplation of the divine Presence, celebrated in the origin story of Zen and in many other religious traditions.

The argument is startling for omitting and even rejecting the casual Social Darwinism underlying the conceptual structure of platitudes that even modern witticisms cannot be bothered to contest, about the importance of not being deceived by appearances in everyday life. Without ferreting out the Enlightenment naivete about biology and politics in the Social Darwinism of “cognitive bias” concepts used in self-awareness exercises to improve social cognition, this theory of aesthetics barely sounds plausible in informal language because it conflicts on too many levels with conventional wisdom.

Yet it should make sense, and corresponds closely to a long-retained Platonic tradition in literary philosophy. Even so, Platonic idealism about truth and love and beauty feels thwarted in the uses of art to glamorize an edifice of power or an image informed by ideology, that are not scarce in the visual environments of civilization. The more disturbing art commissions of such an elite are stereotypical, in ways that use imposing scale to subvert and co-opt the discomfort and cognitive dissonance when a spectator is torn between recoiling in fear from a tyrant’s way of taking audiences, and receiving art that greets the audience where their own tastes are to be found. Art can be so used, and yet achieve little in its domination of those it confronts on its own terms.

Tiepolo_fresco_and_stairwell

An Imperial Hall commissioned in the 18th century.

Whether or not this “was why” the Alcibiades known to Socrates and infamous locally and in the Platonic tradition struck off the noses of public statues and the tail of a dog without pretense at reasons, there is much skepticism in moral philosophy about the value of art, and the risks it takes in provoking its audience to pay attention to its arguments.

This passage is only a small part of A New Earth, and not an overriding theme of that book, but I singled it out because of how it reminded me of Elaine Scarry’s On Beauty and Being Just. Both texts are convincing but counterintuitive in making arguments about how our apprehension of beauty is related to our ability to conceive of social justice on a more concrete level. Their arguments conflict substantively but also seem to share some space in Venn Diagram logic, and a comparison of the two authors’ descriptions of beauty can be used to describe that space in detail. Perhaps it also describes something intuitive to both authors that is even more convincing than either argument in full.

I’ve developed a tentative way to fit the two authors’ ideas together, using categorical reasoning to compare their descriptions of aesthetic principles and notice how common elements are found. The difference between the arguments in the two books is clear, but they aren’t entirely opposed to each other. Neither one is much circulated in art criticism as a prevailing set of assumptions for scholarship on aesthetics, but there is an intuitive plausibility to each despite their differences.

Eckhart Tolle sees beauty as something that elicits great love and also elevates consciousness by tapping into our fascination with the ethereal and our desire to transcend appearances and perceive the substance of divine Presence. Elaine Scarry sees beauty as an inspiration for justice through explicit analogy between the qualities we single out for aesthetic appreciation (of art or of beauty in nature) and the conceptual components of the idea of justice.

Their arguments can be used to build two contrasting lists of beautiful qualities. The first list corresponds closely to Eckhart Tolle’s theory of what makes a white dove or a crystal beautiful, while the second uses the narrow conceptual areas of overlap between his assumptions and Elaine Scarry’s to build the first list’s conceptual polar opposite.

Typical qualities of a beautiful object (ethereal theory of beauty)

  • lightness / paleness
  • symmetry / singularity
  • stillness / transcendence
  • smoothness / transparency

Atypical qualities of a beautiful object (material theory of beauty)

  • darkness / colorfulness
  • asymmetry / diversity
  • motion / conflict
  • surface complexity / concealed depth

I can think of favorite film moments for depicting each one.

Ethereal theory: Smoke rising in arabesques from an ornate incense burner in front of a bedroom window in Kingdom of Heaven, to the beautiful score composed by Harry Gregson Williams. Though the smoke is in motion, it moves almost vertically and being undisturbed by any breeze suggests the air in the room would actually be oppressively still if it were not too early to be as hot as the desert becomes by midday.

Material theory: Viggo Mortensen’s first entrance in Alatriste, chest deep in water, arms in an asymmetrical position, in dim light. In this scene he will show a scarf that later turns out to be captivating in its own right because it is multicolored in a wonderful way, but in this light its rich colors make it look simply like a handy dark cloth, one apparently valued but not visually striking in its own right.

Ariadna Gil and Viggo Mortensen, Alatriste

Natural beauty might balance elements from both aesthetic theories, whereas ideal beauty combines elements of only one and epitomizes that idea of beauty. Interestingly, much spiritual art (such as cathedral architecture) combines elements of both, so I wouldn’t necessarily assume one is more spiritually relevant than the other. It may be that the distinction between the two possible manifestations of beauty has spiritual significance, and that this significance is easier to appreciate when we perceive both at once.

And what happens when they are joined together? The following pairings of aesthetic and virtuous qualities that seem to share a conceptual basis were inspired more closely by Elaine Scarry’s book.

Qualities of beauty that speak to the idea of justice:

  • proportion / fairness
  • likeness / equality
  • gracefulness / dignity
  • a rhythm being even / a course of action being constant

Each of the aesthetic qualities in this short list represents a point of contact between ethereal and material beauty to me.

  • Proportion can be seen in the sides of a golden rectangle, celebrated in the design of public spaces in Athens and made up of two pairs of lines, symmetrical within pairs but asymmetrical between them, with the difference in length between pairs measured in a carefully rationalized proportion.
  • Likeness is the predicate of political equality, the idea that many discrete individuals with different stations and appearances have one shared identity as human beings, some of whose rights are innate in that identity and not acquired or alienable.
  • Graceful execution of complex movements involves giving them smooth transitions, the same qualities that make public actions dignified (as opposed to panicky capitulations to abrupt shifts in the balance of power, for instance).
  • The continuity in a military band’s rhythm is an expression of controlled forward momentum bringing change but representing the uninterrupted progress of a seemingly permanent force, neither impetuous nor easily deterred, as action in a just cause should be.

I found trying to interpret and apply both theories of beauty at once interesting, but I realize the analogies that can be made here are helped by how easily we can convince ourselves of most metaphors, with a little imagination.