'I think therefore I am.'  Descartes            'I AM THAT I AM.'  Exodus.3.        'I am what I am.'  La Cage aux Folles

21 November 2010


'First Chaos came, and then broad-bosomed Earth, The everlasting seat of all that is, And Love.'

'First in the train of gods, he fashioned Love.'

'Thus numerous are the witnesses who acknowledge Love to be the eldest of the gods. And not only is he the eldest, he is also the source of the greatest benefits to us. For I know not any greater blessing to a young man who is beginning life than a virtuous lover or to the lover than a beloved youth.'...Evil is the vulgar lover who loves the body rather than the soul, inasmuch as he is not even stable, because he loves a thing which is in itself unstable, and therefore when the bloom of youth which he was desiring is over, he takes wing and flies away, in spite of all his words and promises; whereas the love of the noble disposition is life-long, for it becomes one with the everlasting. The custom of our country would have both of them proven well and truly, and would have us yield to the one sort of lover and avoid the other, and therefore encourages some to pursue, and others to fly; testing both the lover and beloved in contests and trials, until they show to which of the two classes they respectively belong. And this is the reason why a hasty attachment is held to be dishonourable, because time is the true test of this as of most other things; and secondly there is a dishonour in being overcome by the love of money, or of wealth, or of political power, whether a man is frightened into surrender by the loss of them, or, having experienced the benefits of money and political corruption, is unable to rise above the seductions of them. For none of these things are of a permanent or lasting nature; not to mention that no generous friendship ever sprang from them. There remains, then, only one way of honourable attachment which custom allows in the beloved, and this is the way of virtue; for as we admitted that any service which the lover does to him is not to be accounted flattery or a dishonour to himself, so the beloved has one way only of voluntary service which is not dishonourable, and this is virtuous service.'...
'He who from these ascending under the influence of true love, begins to perceive that beauty, is not far from the end. And the true order of going, or being led by another, to the things of love, is to begin from the beauties of earth and mount upwards for the sake of that other beauty, using these as steps only, and from one going on to two, and from two to all fair forms, and from fair forms to fair practices, and from fair practices to fair notions, until from fair notions he arrives at the notion of absolute beauty, and at last knows what the essence of beauty is.' Plato's Symposium
 Plato instructing his students.
'Thy bosom is endangered with all hearts,
Which I by lacking have supposed dead:
And there reigns love and all love’s loving parts
 And all those friends which I thought buried.
How many a holy and obsequious tear
How dear religious love stolen from mine eye,
As interest of the dead, which now appear
But things remov’d, that hidden in thee lie!
Thou art the grave where buried love doth live,
Hung with the trophies of my lovers gone,
Who all their parts of me to thee did give;
That due of many now is thine alone:
Their images I lov’d, I view in thee,
                           And thou (all they) hast all the all of me.'  William Shakespeare
'The Scorns of Young Menalcas, once my care,
Tho' he was black, and thou art Heav'nly fair.
Trust not too much to that enchanting Face;
Beauty's a Charm, but soon the Charm will pass:
White Lilies lie neglected on the Plain
       While dusky Hyacinths for use remain.'

'Like beautiful bodies of the dead who had not grown old
and they shut them, with tears, in a magnificent mausoleum,
with roses at the head and jasmine at the feet --
this is what desires resemble that have passed
without fulfilment; with none of them having achieved
 a night of sensual delight, or a bright morning.' 
Constantine P. Cavafy

"O sacred love! If there be any heaven on earth, 'tis love..."   Christopher Marlowe.
'Hear the four best things a man can ask for of life: Health unmarried lifelong, beauty of form and act, honest gain of wealth, and while one is still a boy, to come to brightest bloom among heroic lovers." Simonides 500BCE

"Some define it as a kind of likeness and say like people are friends, whence come the sayings 'like to like', 'birds of a feather flock together', and so on; others on the contrary say 'two of a trade never agree'. On this very question they inquire for deeper and more physical causes, Euripides saying that 'parched earth loves the rain, and stately heaven when filled with rain loves to fall to earth', and Heraclitus that 'it is what opposes that helps' and 'from different tones comes the fairest tune' and 'all things are produced through strife'; while Empedocles, as well as others, expresses the opposite view that like aims at like.... Let us examine those which are human and involve character and feeling, e.g. whether friendship can arise between any two people or people cannot be friends if they are wicked, and whether there is one species of friendship or more than one. Those who think there is only one because it admits of degrees have relied on an inadequate indication; for even things different in a species admit of degree." Aristotle

A travel memory from the diary.
1979, and I had stumbled out of the Louvre in Paris, with my mind spinning from Art overload. As I walked through the gardens I glanced up at a sandstone ramp and saw walking in the opposite direction a most beautiful vision. Our eyes locked on to each other as we passed and continued to remain so for the eternity it took to make the dozen or so steps before disappearing from each others sight for ever. That momentary romance, and the clear memory of the feeling if not the face will remain with me for the rest of my life.
"But he whose initiation is recent, and who has been the spectator of many glories in the other world, is amazed when he sees any one having a godlike face or form, which is the expression of divine beauty; and at first a shudder runs through him, and again the old awe steals over him; then looking upon the face of his beloved as of a god he reverences him, and if he were not afraid of being thought a downright madman, he would sacrifice to his beloved as to the image of a god; then while he gazes on him there is a sort of reaction, and the shudder passes into an unusual heat and perspiration; for, as he receives the effluence of beauty through the eyes, the wing moistens and he warms. And as he warms, the parts out of which the wing grew, and which had been hitherto closed and rigid, and had prevented the wing from shooting forth, are melted, and as nourishment streams upon him, the lower end of the wings begins to swell and grow from the root upwards; and the growth extends under the whole soul-for once the whole was winged............
Is love the greatest of human emotions or the greatest of dangers in the hearts of we who need? When there is an object for personal desire, love is 'obviously' the great gift we have been given and the greatest of gifts we have to bestow. When disappointment falls upon us, love is pain and then how fickle are out beliefs in this attachment we have felt and lost. Love is so many things to us and it's definition alters throughout the passing of time and emotions. Love can be lust, unrequited, generous, selfless, obsession, noble, everlasting, transitory, uncertain and as many things as there are people on the earth and hours in the day. Aristotle has defined great love, poets have extolled love's virtues and agonies, but little of that matters to us when we think we have discovered what love is. Each love we have differs. The love for a partner, or our children or our friends or people in general and even love of ourselves is fragile and can change according to how we perceive success. A hurt can stubbornly strengthen our belief in love or eradicate it, submerge it. Science can explain it as a need to genetically improve the species, a chemical stimulation or many a physical and psychological variation. Definition does not explain away, it only gives words to elements of the complexity of our being. Some love greatly and others selfishly, but which of us can know the mind or feelings of another. We can assume, but are we correct? Do we know if someone is but using another and is this bad or just a part which appears out of balance and then, is it really out of balance or do we just perceive it to be because of our own altered preconceptions? Do we believe in the love of others as compared to that our own? Some say it is want, or need as if this of necessity invalidates the experience. Does it? Can we define it or should we just experience it.? What is love? Is there such a thing?  I hope so.

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