Book Review: Beauty – The Invisible Embrace


Beauty – The Invisible Embrace by John O’Donohue  Ten stars out of five.  😀

I instagrammed a picture of this book when I was in the first chapter, remarking on the fine sweet pain of reading the book that you wish you’d written.    More on that later… but suffice to say that I took *pages* of notes out of this book.   Written by a man who’s about to become my new favorite non-fiction author, this work covers Beauty from stem to stern – very nearly every aspect of beauty other than those popularized by the beauty industry.

A philosopher, once a priest, O’Donohue goes DEEP with his analysis of beauty.    He goes wide.  The list of works referenced alone is a trove of riches.   Well, it is for those of us interested in the philosophical and theological aspects to beauty.

Now to besiege you with quotes…

p. 193 “Beauty shines with a light from beyond itself.   Love is the name of that light.  At the heart of beauty must be a huge care and affection for creation, for nowhere is beauty an accidental presence.   Nor is beauty simply its own end.”

p. 127 “Architecture is one of the most public and permanent stages on which a culture displays its understanding of beauty. ”  [I found that statement both true and excessively depressing].

p. 67 “The soul is never fully at home in the social world that we inhabit.  It is too large for our contained, managed lives”.

p. 3 “Perhaps, for the first time, we gain a clear view of how much ugliness we endure and allow.   The media generate relentless images of mediocrity and ugliness in talk-shows, tapestries of smothered language and frantic gratification.   The media are becoming the global mirror and these shows tend to enshrine the ugly as the normal standard.   Beauty is mostly forgotten and made to seem naive and romantic.

That last… that last is where my fine sweet pain was born.  This … boxing up of beauty as naive, as weak, as romantic – that’s what I wanted to put to death.  Beauty has power.

Beauty touches all aspects of our lives, at least it does if we don’t deliberately wall ourselves off from it.   Sometimes we do, in the name of mediocrity, in the name of anger, in the name of intentional numbness.

I have spent the past few days (I read quickly) walking around my house forcing my family to listen to me read passages out loud to them.   One might say I’m excessively fond of this book.   It *will* be influencing my future work.

If you are at all interested in Beauty in any of her forms, this book will be a song in your heart.   Go.  Read it so that I don’t have to find you and follow you around and read it to you.   Because I might……. I might indeed.

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