On Beauty: Listening and Reading



As we at LABA delve deeply into how beauty weaves through classic Jewish texts, I’ve found I can barely go a day without finding echoes of our discussions in the culture. Below, a collection of contemporary meditations on beauty for your listening and reading pleasure.

  • “One of the huge confusions in our times is to mistake glamour for beauty. And we do live in a culture which is very addicted to the image, and I think that there is always an uncanny symmetry between the way you are inward with yourself and the way you are outward. And I feel that there is an evacuation of interiority going on in our times. And that we need to draw back inside ourselves and that we’ll find immense resources there.” That’s the Irish poet John O’Donohue in a recent episode of On Being
  • Miranda July on Rihanna: “I suggested that a body as perfect as hers can never really be naked or vulnerable.”  
  • In a review of the movie Brooklyn (an adaptation of the novel) that exhibits his usual lyricism and insight, A.O. Scott offers a meditation on the incredible potential and responsibility an actor’s face holds: “Inwardness is a great challenge for filmmakers. The human face is a wall as well as a window. Words lose their power. Everything depends on the ability of actors to communicate nuances of feeling and fluctuations of consciousness. And [Saoirse] Ronan uses everything — her posture, her eyebrows, her breath, her teeth, her pores — to convey a process of change that is both seismic and subtle.”
  • Esme Blegvad’s comic about self-harm is, in a way, about the systematic destruction of physical beauty.
  • Almost immediately after a long LABA discussion of the Nazarites and the symbolic and emotional potency of hair, Lena Dunham’s podcast Women of the Hour devoted an entire episode to women’s bodies — including their hair.

Image by weroni.