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Location: New Delhi, India

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Oscar Wilde's Homosexuality, Catholicism and his hunt for Ideal Beauty

Stephen Fry in his interview, who acted as Wilde in the film ‘Wilde’’, and other scholars have often puzzled about Oscar Wilde’s homosexuality. But one look at Michaelangelo's David by any man might just give the answer to this conundrum.

Indeed, Wilde was enraptured by the idea of beauty. But as is natural with all humans, he had the desire to possess it, and perhaps with his passionate temperament, this desire was stronger than usual.

It might arguably be said that all longing and art comes from this distance between beauty and the desire to possess it. This produces what the Germans call Sehnsucht, vaguely translated as 'inconsolable longing'. This disparity also produces irony, as is seen in various ways in which overstatement and understatement take place, represented as distance from the normal.

This desire for beauty overtook him when he saw beautiful men. If you watch the movie 'Wilde' , you would come across a scene on the couch with Bosie and Wilde making love, but Wilde being intensely pained at the whole experience, and his complaint about his own compulsive behavior when it came to his homosexual 'lovemaking'. Yes, past reason hunted, no sooner had, past reason hated. And this intense pain, this overbearing and compulsive desire to possess beauty was his tragedy- his beautiful tragedy. His hamartia.

A connection can also be made with this disparity between beauty and the desire to possess it with his love for Catholicism. In the the act of partaking the sacraments and the mass, the sacramental and symbolic nature of the world actually gets one in possession of beauty in a sense, in a way that metaphors which are parts of beauty in us, but not concretely in our possession. The sacraments then become the most concrete objects of beauty than can be possessed.

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