pretty good Times piece on sexual selection and beauty.
I have always found the power of beauty over us to be deeply puzzling. I mean, a revulsion from ugliness or deformity makes evolutionary sense, because those things might signal other genetic problems, as does a generalized attraction to health and fitness. But our obsession with the right sort of nose or eye or breast goes far beyond this; and that's before we get to our mania for gold, silver, and gems, for bright fabrics, for flowers evolved to attract bees.
Our sense of beauty has come unmoored from the practical and stalked off on its own, claiming a huge part of our consciousness for its domain. Maybe this can be explained by sexual selection, genetic drift, or some such. But maybe not. Maybe it is a sign that our minds are expressions of a force for life that permeates our universe and drives us to wonder at creation, to be aware that we are part of the astonishing cosmos, and to be thrilled by that belonging.