An exploration of beauty through the eyes of author Chloé Cooper Jones is a journey through disability and desire, to the glittering and self-reflective depths of humanity.
As a Pulitzer-appointed professor of philosophy and freelance writer, Jones fuses philosophical uncertainty with visceral reality. His memoir is at the same time a travelogue, a love story, a guide to the study of aesthetics and a distinctive chronicle of an unexpected motherhood.
“I was free to feel superior to people who excluded me. It’s hard to leave the darkness and step out into a bright, dazzling light. ”
Leaning on literary journalism and away from exaggerated academic language, Jones unveils complex ideas, smoothing them out and then underlining all wrinkles, inviting readers to see the light and darkness in his story. He writes with a rhythm that hums pleasantly, but leaves powerful reverberations.
The narrative dips when Jones engages in prolonged conversations with strangers and often unnamed acquaintances, but the reader can trust that each of these dialogues will unlock different perspectives that will ultimately lead her to where she needs to go.
The poignant moments in the memoir explore Jones’s relationship with his son, Wolfgang. He sees how his earned but fallible worldviews are shaping him. In him she sees fragments of herself: fear, intelligence and beauty.
After walking to the edge of the Atlantic Ocean with Wolfgang, he writes: “We were only given a real life, terribly normal and sublime, and I would no longer betray its beauty by wishing it differently.”
Katie May is a Free Press reporter who did badly in her philosophy class.