quinta-feira, 26 de janeiro de 2012

L'Inutile Beauté - Minima Moralia - Theodor W. Adorno

Women of exceptional beauty are doomed to unhappiness. Even those favoured by every circumstance, who have wealth, talent on their side, seem as if hounded or obsessed by the urge to destroy themselves and all the human relationships by contract. An oracle gives them the choice between calamities.
Either they shrewdly exchange beauty for success. Then they pay with happiness for its condition; being no longer able to love, they poison the love felt for them and are left empty-handed. Or the privilege of beauty gives them the courage and confidence to repudiate the exchange agreement- They take seriously the happiness that their person promises, and are unstinting with themselves, assured by the admiration of all that they do not need first to prove their worth.
In their youth they are free to choose. This makes them anything but choosy: nothing is definitive, everything can be replaced at any time. Quite early on, without much forethought, they marry and thereby commit themselves to pedestrian conditions, forfeit the privilege of infinite possibility, abase themselves to human beings. At the same time, however, they cling to the childish dream of omnipotence with which their lives have beguiled them, and - un-bourgeois in this - continue to throw away what tomorrow may be replaced by something better.
Thus they are the type of the destructive character. Just because they were once hors de concours they are unsuccessful in competition, for which they now develop a mania. The gesture of irresistibility remains when the reality has passed away; magic perishes the moment it ceases merely to stand for hope and settles in domesticity.
But her resistibility makes her also a victim: she becomes subject to the order she once soared above. Her generosity is punished. The fallen woman like the obsessive one are martyrs of happiness. Incorporated beauty has in time become a calculable element of existence, a mere substitute for non-existent life, without having ever been anything more. To herself and others she has broken her promise of happiness.
Yet she who keeps it takes on an aura of doom and is herself overtaken by disaster. In this way the enlightened world has entirely absorbed myth. Their jealousy has outlived the gods.

L'Inutile Beauté: title of Maupassant's last book of short stories, written 1890, dominated by the tale of the same name.

Theodor Adorno, Minima moralia: reflections on a damaged life. Translated from the German by E. F. N. Jephcott. London, Verso, 2005, p.109.

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