Can there be beauty in violence? It’s a question which I’m sure has been addressed before, but I haven’t checked.
Violence is, well, violent. It can be horrific, it can leave people appalled – but it can also leave them fascinated. If you’ve ever witnessed an accident that involves a lot of blood then you’ll know what I mean; it can prompt a whole gamut of responses from revulsion to concern – but very often one just can’t look away.
We may not find violence, or its aftermath, appealing, but it’s difficult to deny that it holds a certain fascination. It’s something that’s emphasised by films; seeing someone decapitated on screen is thrilling, even if we do wince as we watch it. Seeing someone have their throat slit is chilling, and stunningly violent – but it’s also entrancing, the moment when the blade makes the cut, the expression on the person’s face – changing from fear to pain to utter blankness, slack-jawed and lifeless.
I’m not by any means advocating violence, let me be clear on that, but when something is put in front of you why shouldn’t you try to make the best of it? We are exposed to violence almost every day of our lives: assaults, car-crashes, war footage on the news. Violence surrounds us, and if all we do is weep and cover our eyes we won’t get very far. Don’t condone violence, but when confronted with it try and make sense of it. There are those who say that violence is senseless – perhaps they’re right, but isn’t it our right to at least try and find meaning where there is none?
The blood stains on the windscreen at a car accident…a strange symmetry to the pattern of the splatters, radiating out from a central point. A limb imprisoned by a fallen girder at a bomb site…the juncture between flesh and steel strangely hypnotic. Blood, a clear red as it pumps from a wounded body, transforming to a tarnished brown as it dries.
Is there beauty in these things? Can the violence that ensues from crimes of hate and senseless war evoke a sense of beauty? It must do, or others would not have already used phrases such as “breathtakingly violent.” Breathtaking, a phrase used often to describe vistas like those seen from cliffs and mountains, scenes which inspire awe, and even fear. Breathtaking scenery, breathtaking violence; both, in my opinion, with the potential to be beautiful.
But then it’s often said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it?