Not a villain, but can insight villainous tendencies.
I can’t define it. As I’ve been told, it’s up to the beholder to define what is beautiful. This makes sense, considering I find my beat up old truck an absolute specimen of perfection and beauty, whereas other people cringe at how dirty and used it is — it’s funny when they shake their heads at me for being so “blind.”
In many a story, beauty will cause someone to falter from a righteous path, a heroic journey or be lured down the low road. This is the villainous side of the coin, so to speak. There are so many stories of beauty; my favorite being the siren song where the sailors of yore are so intoxicated by a beautiful sound, they steer off toward the rocks or jump overboard to their deaths. Transfixed and transmuted by such a beautiful sound, by their need, their desire for beauty, they die. In this, beauty is a dark magic.
In stories both real and imagined, beauty has caused war, strife, death and acts of barbarism so profound it’s difficult to think that beauty was the impetus. Never was it beauty’s fault, but the fault of humankind and our susceptibility to the allure of wanting to own, control and ultimately consume what we perceive as beautiful.
I see beauty in the joy of my children, the smile and laugh of my wife. I find it in philosophy and dissent. Yes, dissent, especially now, is beautiful. I find it in waves, mountains covered in snow, a clear lake or a river where I know the fish will be. Whereas the dark side of beauty, for me, is hardly dark — I simply shirk responsibilities for surf, snow or fishing. Hardly villainous, unless being “unproductive” is a mortal sin these days.
I ponder beauty many times a day without even realizing it. Life is a beautiful thing, even when it does kick you in the teeth.