On curves

Curved lines have an aesthetic that straight lines may only dream about. Football may be played on a grid, but everything else about the sport is based on a series of curves, beginning with the ball itself. The Arch in St. Louis is the paradigmatic aesthetic curve par excellence, yet no one thinks a set a goal posts has any aesthetic value at all. Curves are all around us and exist in direct contrast to straight lines, which try and create order in our chaotic world. Towns laid out on a grid are efficient but boring. A town such as Toledo, Spain, doesn’t have a straight street and doesn’t want one either and is a lot more interesting than any modern American city. The human body has no straight lines because it doesn’t need any. Many of us live with the straight line ilusion provided by a “ruler” or a “yardstick,” yet these completely utilitarian tools are both boring and anti-aesthetic. Though the straight line seems necessary and useful, it is predictable and repetitive. Curves, on the other hand, or on any hand for that matter, are unpredictable, tempting, desirable, sensual, suprising. Curves draw in the eye and offer a more pleasing solution to the problem of empty space than a straight line ever did. Where is the poetry in a square coffee cup which is antithetic to the experience of enjoying coffee? I love the paradox that are “straight leg” jeans which are not straight at all. Curves are ubiquitous, surround us warmly as the swoop and swirl around us, enclosing us in a world that is curved, not flat or straight, poetically arching and sinking below the horizon which is just another curve. One curve leads to another, a pitched ball, a crystal salad bowl, a parabolic antenna, a dinner plate, the trace of a perfectly thrown bowling ball as it makes another strike, the wheels on the bus. The utilitarian nature of the straight line will always clash violently with the curved line of the parabola.