I may be primarily talking to other females, since it appears we have more access to the emotional realm than males, but let’s not stereotype! So, I’ll just talk about my own experience, and you can try it on for size.
Images have the power to touch me directly, bypass thoughts and go straight to that place in the unconscious which is vulnerable to experiencing something like beauty. There ought to be a different word for that tingly connection between in here and out there. The photo above touches me whenever I see it. I almost always find myself smiling when I experience it. It’s almost like it elicits empathy in me.
I looked up beauty on Google and see that it’s been taken over by personal attractiveness. So what is the word for what I mean? I’m talking about what produces a warm soothing fulfilling experience in response to a (shudder) “stimulous.” Sex and scratching don’t count.
Webster said “pretty” (shudder), then “qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.” That’s more like it.
So, I guess for me beauty is a feeling that strokes my insides, and can be quite restorative, a real pick-me-upper. Thinking of restorative I remember being surprised by how soothing it felt when I googled “birds.” I think I responded to their vulnerability and the unbelievable variety in their coloring and other features. I suspect another thing that moved me was seeing how evolution has produced such great and–yes, beautiful variations in birds, a very handy treatment for mild depression. Well, I see this began with a sleeping pony and ended with birds, which doesn’t seem to have anything to do with personal attractiveness.
If anyone “Likes” this, maybe they can share their appreciations in a comment?