As of today, December 12th, The Judgment of Paris celebrates its eighth anniversary.
It was precisely eight years ago that the first Liis pages were posted, and since then, the site has grown like a medieval village, with new sections added organically, over time.
We have discussed the methodology of this Web project on numerous occasions, particularly in several essays on the site's various forums (this
being just one example), so there is little need to compose yet another mission statement.
Instead, we will devote this anniversary post to providing a "table of contents" for a focussed series of discussions that appeared on the present forum, over the past year.
Last year's anniversary topic spotlighted the voluptuous Isabel de Porcel
, who was Goya's model for the most famous and beautiful painting of his career. That post became the germ of an idea, and throughout 2006, we devoted numerous threads to examining the history of feminine beauty in Western culture, observing how this timeless ideal was enshrined in Old World literature and philosophy.
These discussions originally appeared out of historical sequence; therefore, for ease of reference, here is a list of the posts relating to this topic, arranged in chronological order. The titles refer to the authors, works, or historical personages examined:
Primeval beginnings: The Nature of Paleolithic Art
Classical Greece: Isocrates
Imperial Rome: Prudentius
Late Roman Empire: Maximian
Medieval Era: Matthew of Vendome, Le Roman de la Rose, Boccaccio, Guillaume de Marchaud, Chaucer
The Renaissance: Firenzuola
Neoclassicism, Romanticism: Ekaterina Skavronskaia, Emma, Lady Hamilton
The Victorian Era: Walker.
And the following post, initiated by one of the forum's readers,
The Apocalypse: A Critical History of 20th-Century Art
suggests how this noble legacy was destroyed.* * *
Together, these essays paint a representative picture of the ideal of feminine beauty as it was conceived throughout the history of Western civilization. Far from showing that "bodies go in and out of fashion" (a cynical modern myth), these inquiries instead reveal that it was specifically and exclusively the fuller female figure that embodied the ideal of beauty from the dawn of time, up until the 20th century.
The modern fetish for thinness is therefore an unnatural aberration, unprecedented in aesthetic history. Throughout the ages, man has revered one ideal, and one alone--the true ideal, a healthy ideal, an image of genuine beauty--while our degenerate modern age has displaced it with a false ideal, a toxic standard, an image of unnatural androgyny.
Little wonder, then, that this alien, modern standard inflicts untold misery on the women who are duped into pursuing it, prompting them to endure senseless diet-starvation and gym-torture (at which their bodies understandably rebel).
By contrast, the timeless, full-figured ideal is in tune with natural desires. The feminine enjoyment of eating is a physical reward that evolved over the ages, as the body's way of encouraging women to develop an attractive, well-nourished appearance.
The solution to the blight of today's emaciated media standard is to restore the timeless ideal of full-figured femininity, not do away with ideals altogether, in favour of homely "reality." Eliminating ideals would eliminate the very essence of humanity itself. Man is more than a beast of burden; more than a farm animal that can lead a pointless, unexamined life, emptied of meaning; more than an automaton that can dutifully function in a narrowly-circumscribed, machine-like world of "socialist justice," bereft of longing and aspiration. He has imaginative needs, as surely as needs air and water.
Ideals are essential for human existence, for ideals--and ideals alone--are what make us more than ashes, more than dust.
Ideals are what make us human.
Aesthetics, for their part, represent ideals in tangible form, palpable manifestations of ideals. The more refined the aesthetic, the nobler are the ideals that they represent. The more deformed the aesthetic, the more degenerate are the ideals that they enshrine. Thus, the displacement of the timeless ideal of beauty by the modern alien standard mirrors the decline of Western culture as a whole.
At this site, we continue to anticipate an aesthetic restoration, one that will herald a great cultural revival, and the restoration of the nobler ideals of the past--the ideals that yielded a fruitful and harmonious existence for millennia, and allowed Western civilization to become the glory of the world.
Classical aesthetics--and the timeless ideals that they embody--are the door to a better world of the future, because they offer a bridge across the chasm, a way out of our modern malaise, and allow us to reconnect with our glorious heritage, from which fruitful ground a new culture will grow.
The visibly soft fullness of Lillian Russell--universally regarded as the most gorgeous woman in the world, in the 1890s (when the timeless ideal held sway):