you should always carry something beautiful in your mind
— Blaise Pascal (1623–1662)
John O’Donohue in conversation with Krista Tippett
Some of you might already know the words and writings of the late Irish poet and philosopher, John O’Donohue (1956-2008). I must admit: I don’t. All I know is a few passages from Longing and Belonging, which I have been listening to on my early morning-walks the last couple of days.
You know I have started this quest for beauty, it might sound rather spiritual – still I didn’t search for a religious mystic to be my companion. But he came anyway, on his own, or maybe it was me – accidentally stumbling upon his words. Anyhow; I have decided to let Mr. O’Donohue be my guide for a while –
beauty is not a luxury, beauty ennobles the heart and reminds us of the infinity which is within us
— John O’Donohue (1956-2008)
I have already fallen in love with this strange irish voice of his – our rather dissimilar apprehensions of the world doesn’t seem to matter at all.
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From the transcript: “Beauty is about more rounded substantial becoming. So I think beauty in that sense is about an emerging fullness, a greater sense of grace and elegance, a deeper sense of depth, and also a kind of homecoming for the enriched memory of your unfolding life.”
I like O’Donohue’s approach here, though of course I might need to read his books to get a real picture of his philosophy (spiritually, aesthetically, etc).
But the idea of beauty as a kind of sentient, deep emergence, or “becoming,” feels right. That definition allows for substantial variations in what the beautiful is, so that individual perspective plays a role but so does completeness (mindfulness being collaborative, compassionate, aware).
Enjoy your walks and your walking ‘companion’ with his Irish brogue!
thank you, I will!
When we were doing the work for the photo book on the volcanoes of British Columbia, we spent a lot of time in the digital darkroom talking about beauty. When presented with exquisite design created by the planet itself, and images and stories of walking on land on which no one has walked before, or to see boulders that have crumbled to dust on a volcanic ridge, right on place, we concluded in the end that art is not human. Humans like you and I just tap into it. Want to see some pics?
this is fascinating, thank you! coincidentally, I started listening to the Waterboys’ new album just before the holidays, and also Kate Bush’s ’50 Words for Snow’ album as well, speaking of Irish music and spirituality. i love the notion that ‘beauty=God’, although the notion is much more complex than I have time to say here…thanks again for this.