Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

On a Photograph of My Cousin Jean

As lovely as a girl aged twenty-twocan be—intelligent, slim, self-possessed,and beautiful. It’s Florida; it’s newto her, like marriage. Smiling, smartly dressed, she poses, shaded by a palm, besidea terra cotta jar. The honeymoonhas just begun, the cattleya fresh, the bridestill radiant. . . . . Continue Reading »

The Scholar and the Nymph

As he stood alone in the immense library of his college a week after Michaelmas term, mourning the arrival of his sixty-fifth birthday and contemplating the mild, pristinely white light pouring in through the high arched windows, the senior scholar reflected that over the years he had added no . . . . Continue Reading »

What the Pope Should Do. We’re Waiting

Not for many generations has the Church amassed as much prestige as it has under John Paul II and his successors. They underline (or have so far) the formidable quality of church leadership. Since John Paul II’s elevation in 1978, no nation on earth has been led better. That prestige ought to be used in an important cause, and one where it will matter. There is a desperate cause right under the Pope’s nose. What is he doing in the Philippines and South America at a moment when, throughout Europe, Christianity is dying? Continue Reading »

Fifty Shades of Pretty

Inspired by this photo spread from Seventeen magazine:  1. Blistered Red: This look is really what we as an industry are all about: ensuring that, like sex, beauty involves as much suffering and humiliation as possible. Once you have a stranger rip hot wax off your legs, eyebrows, and . . . . Continue Reading »

Dawn Eden on “Waterloo Sunset”

So here’s the correct link for Dawn Eden’s discussion of the greatest Kinks song. I made this a separate post because her Christianity-rooted discussion of the song’s appeal to beauty is a good counterpoint to my post, which is also rooted in Christianity via Pascal.  I worry . . . . Continue Reading »

The Benefits of Being Ugly

Did you know ugly folks make less money than the beautiful people? One study has revealed that “an American worker who was among the bottom one-seventh in looks, as assessed by randomly chosen observers, earned 10 to 15 percent less per year than a similar worker whose looks were assessed in the top one-third — a lifetime difference, in a typical case, of about $230,000.” Daniel S. Hamermesh, a professor of economics at the University of Texas, Austin, proposes that to compensate these folks we should have affirmative action for ugly people
Continue Reading »

Unity through Beauty

Longtime readers know of my obsession with mathematical beauty, so it should come as no surprise to find me hopping up and down most eagerly and pointing you towards Matthew Milliner’s very immodest proposal in Public Discourse. My only quibble with the article is that the proportion of . . . . Continue Reading »

Beauty Is as Beauty Does

On Beauty by zadie smith penguin, 464 pages, $15 (paperback) In On Beauty, British writer Zadie Smith has turned her attention to the post-September 11 United States and has been widely praised for the result, which is a big comic novel that builds a topical tale on a classic foundation. . . . . Continue Reading »

Instaurations: The New Science of Sunsets

It is harder to see what one seesthan anyone knowsbecause it is easier, far far easierthan on can suppose. That still point of the turning world—look! this light through the petal—where there are no shadowsand where it is never a problem never to have shadows,neither haunted by undaunted . . . . Continue Reading »

Filter Tag Articles