On Beauty

After a hot day, and during a balmy night I headed to the Defining Beauty exhibition at the British Museum (via the Totem Pole, naturally).

I was, despite the crowd, and the heat, or perhaps because of it, suitably spellbound by the miracle on offer – such likeness of skin rendered from stone. But amid the display of athletically poised torsos, I was most taken by an intricate likeness of the philosopher Socrates, no more than foot tall, depicted with his arm thrown skyward from his pleated gown, mid scene in Aristophenes's comedy 'The Clouds'.

Paraphrasing the exhibition text (as hastily scribbled onto a crumpled receipt)

Socrates has arrived on stage in a basket having
suspended his intellect in the air 
in order to gain closer access 
to things of higher importance.
What a lovely idea. And though he has come back down to Earth, he continues to gesture upwards.

On my way home later that night, gentle fat droplets turned to heavy rain in an instant, a heavy drone of falling water. I got soaked. I didn't mind. Sheltering in the bus stop, with the Friday traffic that much louder for the added hiss and slick of the flooded streets I thought of old Socrates, as I'd just seen him. Looking up.

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