The Full Wiki

Vanity: Wikis

  
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Vanity by Frank Cadogan Cowper, 1907

In conventional parlance, vanity is the excessive belief in one's own abilities or attractiveness to others. Prior to the 14th century it did not have such narcissistic undertones, and merely meant futility.[1] The related term vainglory is now often seen as an archaic synonym for vanity, but originally meant boasting in vain, ie. unjustified boasting;[2] although glory is now seen as having an exclusively positive meaning, the Latin term gloria (from which it derives) roughly means boasting, and was often used as a negative criticism.[3]

In many religions vanity, in its modern sense, is considered a form of self-idolatry, in which one rejects God for the sake of one's own image, and thereby becomes divorced from the graces of God. The stories of Lucifer, Narcissus (who gave us the term narcissism) and others attend to a pernicious aspect of vanity. Philosophically speaking, vanity may refer to a broader sense of egoism and pride. Friedrich Nietzsche wrote that "vanity is the fear of appearing original: it is thus a lack of pride, but not necessarily a lack of originality."[4] One of Mason Cooley's aphorisms is "Vanity well fed is benevolent. Vanity hungry is spiteful."[4]

In Christian teachings vanity is considered an example of pride, one of the seven deadly sins. This list evolved from an earlier list of eight sins, which included vainglory as a sin independent of pride.

In Orthodox church, vanity is one of eight sinful and diabolical passions, the fight against which is a major task of every Orthodox Christian.

The symbolism of vanity

"All Is Vanity" by C. Allan Gilbert, reminding us that beauty is only transient in the light of our own mortality.

In Western art, vanity was often symbolized by a peacock, and in Biblical terms, by the Whore of Babylon. In secular allegory, vanity was considered one of the minor vices. During the Renaissance, vanity was invariably represented as a naked woman, sometimes seated or reclining on a couch. She attends to her hair with comb and mirror. The mirror is sometimes held by a demon or a putto. Other symbols of vanity include jewels, gold coins, a purse, and often by the figure of death himself.

Often we find an inscription on a scroll that reads Omnia Vanitas ("All is Vanity"), a quote from the Latin translation of the Book of Ecclesiastes.[5] Although that phrase, itself depicted in a type of still life, vanitas, originally referred not to obsession with one's appearance, but to the ultimate fruitlessness of humankind's efforts in this world, the phrase summarizes the complete preoccupation of the subject of the picture.

"The artist invites us to pay lip-service to condemning her," writes Edwin Mullins, "while offering us full permission to drool over her. She admires herself in the glass, while we treat the picture that purports to incriminate her as another kind of glass—a window—through which we peer and secretly desire her."[6] The theme of the recumbent woman often merged artistically with the non-allegorical one of a reclining Venus.

In his table of the Seven Deadly Sins, Hieronymus Bosch depicts a bourgeois woman admiring herself in a mirror held up by a devil. Behind her is an open jewelry box. A painting attributed to Nicolas Tournier, which hangs in the Ashmolean Museum, is An Allegory of Justice and Vanity. A young woman holds a balance, symbolizing justice; she does not look at the mirror or the skull on the table before her. Vermeer's famous painting Girl with a Pearl Earring is sometimes believed to depict the sin of vanity, as the young girl has adorned herself before a glass without further positive allegorical attributes All is Vanity, by Charles Allan Gilbert (1873-1929), carries on this theme. An optical illusion, the painting depicts what appears to be a large grinning skull. Upon closer examination, it reveals itself to be a young woman gazing at her reflection in the mirror. In the film The Devil's Advocate, Satan (Al Pacino) claims that "vanity is his favourite sin".

Such artistic works served to warn viewers of the ephemeral nature of youthful beauty, as well as the brevity of human life and the inevitability of death.

See also

References

  1. ^ Oxford English dictionary, on vanity
  2. ^ Oxford English dictionary, on vainglory
  3. ^ Oxford English dictionary, on glory
  4. ^ a b Bartleby.com
  5. ^ James Hall, Dictionary of Subjects & Symbols in Art (New York: Harper & Row, 1974), 318.
  6. ^ Edwin Mullins, The Painted Witch: How Western Artists Have Viewed the Sexuality of Women (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1985), 62-3.

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Quotes about vanity: excessive pride in or admiration of oneself, especially when concerned with how one is admirable by others.

Sourced

  • 'Tis solitude should teach us how to die;
    It hath no flatterers; vanity can give
    No hollow aid; alone — man with his God must strive.
  • That was the source of my vanity and my cowardice: always I believed everyone was watching me.
    • Andre Dubus, "The Judge and Other Snakes", Broken Vessels (1991)
  • Pride that dines on Vanity sups on Contempt.
  • I scarce ever heard or saw the introductory words, "Without vanity I may say," &c., but some vain thing immediately followed. Most people dislike vanity in others, whatever share they have of it themselves; but I give it fair quarter wherever I meet with it, being persuaded that it is often productive of good to the possessor, and to others that are within his sphere of action; and therefore, in many cases, it would not be altogether absurd if a man were to thank God for his vanity among the other comforts of life.
  • The expression of vanity and self-love becomes less offensive, when it retains something of simplicity and frankness.
  • No place affords a more striking conviction of the vanity of human hopes than a public library.
  • O vanity! you are the lever by means of which Archimedes wished to lift the earth!
  • The market-place, the eager love of gain,
    Whose aim is vanity, and whose end is pain!
Too much tail. All that jewelry weighs it down. Like vanity. Can't nobody fly with all that shit. Wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.
  • Too much tail. All that jewelry weighs it down. Like vanity. Can't nobody fly with all that shit. Wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.
  • Deception, flattering, lying, deluding, talking behind the back, putting up a false front, living in borrowed splendor, wearing a mask, hiding behind convention, playing a role for others and for oneself — in short, a continuous fluttering around the solitary flame of vanity — is so much the rule and the law among men that there is almost nothing which is less comprehensible than how an honest and pure drive for truth could have arisen among them.
  • One will rarely err if extreme actions be ascribed to vanity, ordinary actions to habit, and mean actions to fear.
  • Our vanity would have just that which we do best count as that which is hardest for us. The origin of many a morality.
  • The vanity of others is only counter to our taste when it is counter to our vanity.
  • Asceticism is the trifling of an enthusiast with his power, a puerile coquetting with his selfishness or his vanity, in the absence of any sufficiently great object to employ the first or overcome the last.
    • Florence Nightingale, Letter (5 September 1857), quoted in The Life of Florence Nightingale (1913) by Edward Tyas Cook, p. 369
  • By mortifying vanity we do ourselves no good. It is the want of interest in our life which produces it; by filling up that want of interest in our life we can alone remedy it. And, did we even see this, how can we make the difference? How obtain the interest which society declares she does not want, and we cannot want?
  • That something so obvious as the vanity of the world should be so little recognized that people find it odd and surprising to be told that it is foolish to seek greatness; that is most remarkable.
  • Cada um tem a sua vaidade, e a vaidade de cada um é o seu esquecimento de que há outros com alma igual.
    • Everyone has his vanity, and each one's vanity is his forgetting that there are others with an equal soul.
    • Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet, "Factless Autobiography", (Richard Zenith Edition, Lisbon, 2006, p. 88)
  • On parle peu quand la vanité ne fait pas parler.
  • Ce qui nous rend la vanité des autres insupportable, c'est qu'elle blesse la nôtre.
    • What makes the vanity of others insufferable to us is that it wounds our own.
    • François de La Rochefoucauld, Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims (1665–1678), Maxim 389.
  • Provided a man is not mad, he can be cured of every folly but vanity; there is no cure for this but experience, if indeed there is any cure for it at all.
  • Pride is an established conviction of one’s own paramount worth in some particular respect, while vanity is the desire of rousing such a conviction in others, and it is generally accompanied by the secret hope of ultimately coming to the same conviction oneself. Pride works from within; it is the direct appreciation of oneself. Vanity is the desire to arrive at this appreciation indirectly, from without.
    • Arthur Schopenhauer, Parerga and Paralipomena (1851), "Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life", Vol. 1, Ch. 4, § 2

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

In the Wisdom literature, a word denpting unfruitful efforts, waste of time, see e.g. Job 7:3 and Eccl 1:2.








Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message