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Our hearts yearn for beauty. In the Kabbalah, beauty, called tiferet, is where spirit and form meet and the human and divine are in balance. Linked to compassion and harmony, beauty is at the very center of the Tree of Life.”


Although we often treat beauty as a superficial quality of appearance, it can be felt as a radiant resource at the heart of our lives. In
Notes on the Need for Beauty, J. Ruth Gendler offers us many new ways to look at this elusive, complex, and paradoxical quality. She illuminates the riddles of beauty and ugliness, considers the relationship between beauty and love, and gives voice to the soul’s need for beauty.

Ruth was the first writer I ever met to successfully self-publish her work. The Book of Qualities was launched independently in 1984 and taken over a few years later by HarperCollins. Worldwide, the wise and winsome volume of poetic prose that characterizes such qualities as Pleasure, Anger, Terror, Beauty, and Change has sold over a quarter-million copies. It has also been widely excerpted and adapted for theater and dance performances, and inspired countless workshops and classes for both adults and children that Ruth has conducted as an independent teacher of creativity and a California Poet in the Schools. The idea of the Qualities has also been used by many teachers to teach personification and values. Ruth compiled a HarperCollins poetry anthology entitled Changing Light: The Eternal Cycle of Night and Day, which featured an international selection of myths, poems and prayers accompanied by 35 of Gendler’s paintings and collages. She has been offering workshops and classes on different faces of creativity for twenty years.

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