Beauty is three parts dead

I used to find myself drawn towards the ocean and her charms. The crackling of waves. The distant chatter of fishermen. And the frothing of her tides. The ocean often had me entranced.

I was fascinated with aquatic life-forms back then. It thrilled me to find them near ocean-beds. But most were dead by the time I stumbled upon them. Yet I have caught myself staring their corpses, feeling exhilarated about life.

Moray Eel, Backwaters

Especially the one time I saw the carcass of a Moray Eel. She seemed so peaceful; lifeless yet so full of possibilities. She seemed to have chunks of flesh bitten off her sides. It was clear that she had been in battles, and lived long enough to tell her tale.

She was rotting. The stench of decaying flesh was in the air too.

I assure you though, she looked beautiful.

It is unfortunate that our brain often perceives beauty based on superficial factors. As philosopher Edmund Burke wrote – “we must conclude that beauty is, for the greater part, some quality in bodies, acting mechanically upon the human mind by the intervention of the senses.”

Moray Eel

Perhaps it is why most pop culture icons have had symmetrical faces.

Ugliness though is easily recognizable. And it doesn’t exist in a physical form.

I once saw a pair of Jellyfishes washed up ashore. They took my breath away because I hadn’t seen one before. The way the morning light poeticized their lifeless translucent bodies. The gentle trickling of waves – a seminal soundtrack for the occasion.

Unfortunately there were bits and pieces of plastic and netted material strewn all over. Proof that those jellyfishes had no business dying that day.

A sad reminder that ugliness is after all a matter of the soul.


(Photographs – Chennai, Mahabalipuram, Mudialarkuppam, Kanchipuram, Pondicherry)

29 thoughts on “Beauty is three parts dead

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      1. d’aww very kind you are, comrade. i haven’t seen jellyfish in about 4 years, they barely are seen in the beaches my city is privy to.

        i wish you many more jellyfish sightings and peaches too because everyone likes a good peach, right?


  1. In my wife’s hometown on the Dutch channel coast, when the wind is blowing out to sea the beach is covered with these living, translucent, and mildly disgusting miracles of the Big Sneeze. A long, beach-blanketing carpet of these cloudy blue primitives is a sight to see. What is this lurching, wiggly world? And do the sponges and jellyfish taunt each other on lazy, sunstruck afternoons down there? Everything is as crazy as it seems, that’s what I believe. Thanks for celebrating the gentle madness, Christy. Your austere, grinning work pays subtle tribute to the ‘ordinary’ days we are wading through, hands joined. And so on!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. your comment really made my day jeff. lovely sentiments you have for those who come from the sea and stay still long enough to tickle the sand crabs between their toes. A lazy, sun-struck afternoon, as you so whimsically put it, is one the silver-est linings I can think of right about now

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Quite, Christy. Another casual hymn to This. I like your craft. Keep spreading the word. There is no ‘ordinary’. You’re one of the people who not only sees through the killing veil of ‘normalcy’ but sings of it melodiously. I see you have many listeners. Maybe there’s hope (he said for the umpteenth time). If so, it’s through these sots of networks. Keep singing, buddy.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. There’s always hope. comrade, especially so when the goal is to live, laugh, learn and love through language. WordPress is certainly a great platform to share them with like-minded wanderers and wistful dreamers alike. For someone like me to hear such words – as you have so beautifully put it – about my own, it feels like a privilege and a real pleasure. Into the light, we must tread, not lightly but with stomping boots.


  2. Stunning photographs, and a poem that drives the point home. 🙂 Parts of the post were truly enlightening, and it feels good to be back, reading up on your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

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