So I began looking for beauty in Draenor and found it all around me, even in the highly hostile Tanaan Jungle.
Of course, what I find beautiful in Draenor landscapes may not appeal to other people; after all, there is some truth in the old saying that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Yet I tend to agree with David E. Cooper who argues that what we find beautiful in landscapes is also what we find beautiful in people’s characters. In his words, “an aesthetically admired landscape is experienced as having virtues – or, more precisely, as having features which, when possessed by human beings, are virtues.”
I decided to test Cooper’s claim by analyzing, in a personally associative way, four of my favorite screenshots of Draenor landscapes. I began by asking myself these questions: What fond memories do these images evoke? What beautiful human qualities do these landscapes suggest?
1. Gorgrond Palms and the Pale Lady
Draenor has two moons. Its largest, the Pale Lady, watches over this palm grove. I’ve been fascinated by the Earth’s moon since I was a child growing up in semi-tropical Florida. Often my grandfather left a wooden ladder propped against the roof. On especially warm nights when the moon was especially bright I would climb the ladder, lie on the cool tin, and lose myself gazing at the moon. Universally the moon is a feminine symbol, a protective and abiding figure throughout the cycles of life. The palm in the foreground appears to be reaching toward or bowing to the afternoon sun, typically a masculine symbol like a king or god. For me there’s a yin-yang quality to the scene as a whole, suggesting – balance, completeness, and contentment.
2. Winding Path in the Spires of Arak
On this hazily sunny afternoon, a path beckons adventurers through jagged foothills toward distant peaks. The sprinkling of trees, as well as torches, temper an otherwise inhospitable landscape. Yet the path is worn, suggesting that it goes some place worth going to; perhaps it’s a trade route or connects neighboring villages. For contemplative sorts, the path is one of many in the journey of life and the seemingly insurmountable peaks challenges along the way. A visit to the Badlands National Park, with its awesome spires and sharply creviced buttes, is the closest I’ve come to hiking in such a place. This Draenor landscape could be taken as a call to persevere while keeping one’s sense of adventure and remaining curious about what lies ahead.
3. Smoky Mist in the Tanaan Jungle
Early one morning while sipping coffee on a third-story balcony, I was absent-mindedly gazing into a forest when a mist-enshrouded maple captured my attention. In that instant I felt as if I’d been transported to a place of perfect peace – one of the few truly mystical experiences I’ve ever had. When I first saw the Tanaan Jungle from the heights of the backside of the Farlight Terrace, I was reminded of that morning. Landscapes sometimes prompt memories of other times and places. But more to the point of including this image is the delicious magical feeling or sense of mystery that misty mornings can evoke.
4. Sunset on the Gorgrond Coast of the Barrier Sea
My husband and I enjoy camping at Peninsula State Park in Wisconsin’s Door County. Our favorite campsite is on top of a bluff only a short walk to a sunset viewing spot. Nearby is the village of Fish Creek where people gather at Sunset Beach Park or on docks to see the sun set over Green Bay. It’s almost a summer ritual. Why? The beauty of the colors, especially over water, calls us. That’s what called me to capture this shot. But I think it’s more than the ever-changing arrays of contrasting colors. If sunsets lasted all day long, they wouldn’t be special. Part of their awesomeness is their ephemerality. While watching a sunset, I often realize how short life and its pleasure are. Indeed, at any time, we live only in the moment. Be in it. Cherish it.