from the new issue of Verse (Volume 26, Numbers 1-3)
We should get over it. If, that is, we are to unlock the mysteries of love. This must be done in the right order, by slow, steep, hierarchical steps. Or so Socrates claims the wise (and probably apocryphal) priestess Diotima told him.
To get over the love of beautiful things (and by extension, people) would be to free oneself of death and decay, of beauty’s transience and our covetous nature. We would fear no footprint. But in order to reach this state of tranquility we must discover the beauty that is “unmixed, not adulterated with human flesh and colors and much other mortal rubbish.” Such a beauty, as must be evident by now, could only be seen with the mind. It cannot be sensuous, it cannot engage touch, taste, smell, sound, or sight. It cannot, therefore, exist in the “things we live among.”
Yet, it is undeniable, much mortal rubbish and adulterated flesh strike us as very beautiful. If they are not actually beautiful, then why do they strike us so? Because they participate in what is so. It is as if there is a zone of rarefied air—Beauty itself—which they pass through, and while in its eternal particles are made to seem, temporarily, to be Beauty itself.
Strange how this air works differently on different matter. On flesh and bone it seems to rest but for a few brief years, before recoiling in horror. On “organized” things, as Emerson calls them—the beautiful results of man infusing form with imagination—this rarefied air seems to linger much longer, sometimes for many millennia. But it is still an illusion, for Beauty exists outside of these things and does not, and never will, belong to them.
He who sees this clearly, and learns to be indifferent to the mineral fact, “touches reality” (not its pale semblance). And it will be granted him “to be the friend of God, and immortal if any man ever is.” Here we have the origin of Western mysticism’s “wormhole” to God. No tedious rituals, trinkets, or icons, just a straight mental shot right to the source.