“the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound, etc.), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).” (Dictionary.com)
People say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Beauty is subjective and one man’s meat is another man’s poison. But the French, in my opinion, take this notion to a whole new level. They have defined “beauty” for the world to follow. In fact, I firmly believe that embedded in the core of what it means to be French is to treat all things with pride and beauty. Nothing too insignificant is taken for granted. Their intense need to protect aestheticism is like a societal rule.
The picture on the right was taken at the Musee de l’Armee at the Les Invalides. A historical and imposing museum that overlooks the Pont Alexandre III and where the body of Napolean I lays dignified. However, while strolling along the quiet corridors, the sight of scaffolding hidden behind a false facade caught my attention.
“Interesting”, I thought.
It seems that the French could be acting on their commitment to cover up the ugly sight of metal rods and beams that might possibly ruin the entire frontage of the building. Maintenance and renovation works cannot be simply carried out without thoughtful consideration of a museum’s appearance. Especially for one that has been around for more than a hundred years.
Now, I’m not making fun of the French here per se. Their fastidious attention to detail to safeguard symbols of its culture are truly respectable. Of course from a logical perspective, an army cannot place great strategic emphasis in making their soldiers look good in battle. This is just ludicrous. But the evidence is there to make this simple conclusion – Beauty matters. Furthermore, it is often rumored that the rapid fall of Paris to the Nazis in World War II was partly due to the decision that the city’s national monuments had to be preserved. The architectural pride of France’s capital cannot be destroyed. All things beautiful have to be saved!
Even in its language, the need for auditory elegance can be noticed. For example, in French, the use of the prepositions “du” and “de” can sometimes be a little confusing. Both this words are commonly used as “of” in English like the “Musee de l’Armee” which translates directly to the “Museum of the Army”. However, since Armee is a feminine noun, “de” is used instead of “du“. Thus, “du” is masculine. But the interesting fact is that “du” is merely a contraction of “de le” which means “of the” when paired with a masculine noun. In this case, in both written and spoken French, “de la” is mentioned but “de le” is a no-no. Mmmmm….
Being the inquisitive Singaporean as I am, I asked CF about this little language irregularity and all I got was, “‘De le’ doesn’t sound nice so we just say ‘du’.”
And I wonder why….