Alien Anthropology

Dissociative Beauty

My beauty was my curse, so to speak; it created an impenetrable shield between people and who I really was.” ~Hedy Lamarr

There really does seem to be something of a deep and irremediable sorrow in all great beauty. We might say the same of a beautiful mind as much as of an attractive face or any otherwise alluring quality a person possesses. It really does appear as though a runaway idiom or notion of generic beauty captures our attention in ways which might only ever alienate us from the bearers of such a burden, just as much as it alienates them from us or cultivates a discontinuous sense of self-identity in their own psychological life.

Do we choose to alienate the naturally and unproblematically beautiful among us because in so doing we inadvertently, unconsciously seek to disempower them? It is rarely a conscious decision but I do think that anything like this which persists in cultural tradition and cognitive reflex for long enough to become something of a cliché only really endures because it fulfils much more than simple superficial psychological needs or desires.

The alienation of beauty is the flip-side of its celebration and I do wonder if there are some deep psychological biases and symmetries here. It is as though the dissociative separation of a person’s experience and emotional (or intellectual) life from their exterior surface and material presence is a foundational or necessary precondition for the existence of a self or a person. Might it be that we isolate a person in these instances so as to mask the general principle and experience of dissociative interior subjectivity that we all prefer to avoid acknowledging? It might be simpler than this but the reflection and complexity remains to be at least considered as a possibility.

In any case, intelligence itself possesses a unique kind of powerful beauty and the great movie star Hedy Lamarr (pictured and quoted above) was quite profoundly brilliant.

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