Wish You Were Here: In Talks of Beauty

Overlooking the town of Telc

The perfect picturesque town does not exist,

or does it?

In the past few weeks, Prague has been my temporary home, claiming my attention in a captivating stretch of ways. Ready for a change of scenery, today we embarked on a three day excursion to several towns around the Czech Republic.

The interesting thing here is how we define beauty.

In an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson he argues: To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again.

The point he is trying to make here is one about the fluidity of beauty as well as the constant creation of something new.

The beauty in both sides of the coin

In our visit to Telč, I was immediately taken aback by the architectural beauty of this quaint little town. Upon arriving we immediately made our way to the town square. The only thing running through my mind was Disneyworld. The exterior of all the buildings were so absolutely perfect that they almost looked fake — like something out of a fairytale.

Statue, reflecting architecture

Using Emerson as my example, I was caught at a crossroads between natural beauty and man-made beauty. The architecture was fascinating and entirely worthy of preservation — the town is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The beauty of this location was ever-changing and at any given point in their year, you could find yourself viewing something differently, yet slightly similar.

Enjoying the view from the lake

We walked around town for a while, taking some time on our own to make compelling photographs. That’s when this opposing view of beauty came to mind. Aside from the architecture, Telč has at least two lakes that go through town, making the natural beauty of the town at par with its “artificial” beauty — if you must.  My thoughts shifted gears, examining the imperfect simplicities of nature — leaving behind the precision human hands add to structures.
The ornate buildings in Prague, impressive in their facade and well-aged in their defense, represent a materialistic kind of beauty. This certain kind — while no better or worse than the other — depicts the power of human minds and hands.

As I thought about this more, I came across another fitting argument by Emerson.

The beauty of nature reforms itself in the mind, and not for barren contemplation, but for new creation.

We made our way to the Bohemian town of Slavonice, just kilometers outside of the Austrian border. With less than 3,000 inhabitants, this quiet town maintained the beauty I was used to seeing in Prague. Like Emerson, the beauty of this location was constructed in my mind — different to anything anyone at any given time was thinking.  As a result, it was not a matter of contemplation, but a matter of me creating a completely new image in my mind.

Beauty is construction of the mind, defined in a unique way to every person in the world. As I tread on, exploring the nature of capturing moments, I come to find the special quality each photograph holds — the incomparable thread this fixture obtains as  moments pass on and on…

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