Dear Steve,

I was wondering what gorgeous means to you ? Is it the way a woman’s hips move when she walks? Is it the way she laughs with your jokes, a freedom in her giggles? How she holds herself in a crowd or on her own? Are her eyes stunning, breathtaking in their piercing clarity, do they hold untold stories that you’d love to encourage out, to listen to in the early hours? The way she follows her dreams, her integrity of vision and ethics is this what grips your sense of wonderment? Is her way of moving through the world a joy to behold? Are the choices she’s made ones that you’re inspired by? Does she echo your unspoken dreams? Are her limbs imbued with grace and strength? Are you enthralled by her intelligence and how she plays with words? Is this what you mean by gorgeous?


Hi Unsigned,

I’m wondering what the word ‘tree’ means to you. Does it mean a party hat? Does it mean a martini? Does it mean a woody, perennial plant with leaves and branches?

gorgeous (adj.) a) dazzlingly beautiful b) splendidly or imposingly beautiful c) glittering d) striking, distinctive

gorgeous (adj.) possessing clarity, integrity, grace, or intelligence

I compiled the first definition from various dictionaries. The second was compiled from your letter. Basically, you want to redefine the word “gorgeous” to suit your own needs. I can understand that. There are lots of words I’d like to redefine to suit my own needs. Some examples (along with their new definitions)…
athletic (adj.) overweight
ambitious (adj.) watches lots of television
honest (adj.) lies constantly
If everyone started using my new definitions, I could answer all those personal ads looking for athletic, ambitious, honest men. My new definitions would give me new power, and I think that’s what this is all about – increasing one’s power by redefining words.

“… all driving force is will to power… Ultimately, the individual derives the values of his acts from himself because he has to interpret, in a quite individual way, even the words he has inherited…”
Nietzsche, The Will to Power

Nietzsche loved the Ancient Greeks, among other reasons, because they embraced the natural hierarchy – some people were stronger than others, smarter than others, and better looking than others. Then, according to Nietzsche, Christianity came along and screwed everything up, by valuing weakness over strength, poverty over wealth, and smart girls over hotties.

“Strange though it may sound, one always has to defend the strong against the weak; the fortunate against the unfortunate; [the gorgeous against the non-gorgeous]… If one translates reality into a morality, this morality is: the mediocre are worth more than the exceptions… I rebel against the translation of reality into a morality.”
Nietzsche, The Will to Power

By defining “gorgeous” in a way you think it should be defined, you’re translating reality into a morality. It’s like in kindergarten, when the teacher tells every girl she’s pretty, even if one of them scares the fish. Maybe it’s a good trade – truth in exchange for self-esteem. We tell every kid he’s smart (even if he’s dumb as a rock) so why shouldn’t every woman be gorgeous and every man be Johnny Depp?

“In modern society, everything threatens to become so much alike, that the peculiar characteristics of each individual will soon be entirely lost in the general aspect of the world. When I survey this countless multitude of beings, shaped in each other’s likeness, amidst whom nothing rises and nothing falls, the sight of such universal uniformity saddens and chills me.”
-DeToqueville, Democracy in America

DeToqueville noticed that Americans don’t like it when anybody is too special, because that might make someone else feel less special. Nonetheless, even DeToqueville decided it was best to embrace equality – a world where anyone can be gorgeous and thin – if it makes people feel better about themselves.

“When the world was full… of great wealth and extreme poverty, of great learning and extreme ignorance, [of the gorgeous and the unattractive], I turned aside from the latter to fix my observation on the former alone, who gratified my sympathies. But I admit that this gratification arose from my own weakness… We may naturally perceive that it is not the singular [gorgeousness] of the few, but the greater well-being of all, which is most pleasing in the sight of the Creator…”
-DeToqueville, Democracy in America


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