Cardiomyopia and Cosmic Nearsightedness
But what about the intense pleasures of sound and sight? The lion is no doubt "attracted" to the form of the gazelle, but no one imagines that the pleasure is in any way aesthetic. However, for human beings, sound and vision provide our primary access to the realm of beauty. And there is such a gulf between this quintessentially human concern with beauty, -- which is so distant from the vital needs of the body -- vs. the practical uses to which animals put their eyes and ears, that it makes any Darwinian explanation risible.
Here's how Pieper describes it: "In the case of animals... no pleasure is derived from the activity of the other senses, such as the eye and ear, except as they affect the satisfaction of the drives of hunger and sex; only because of the promise of food is the lion 'happy' when he spies a stag or hears his call."
However, "one frequently reads and hears that in intemperance man sinks to the level of the beast," but this makes no sense, since a beast cannot be intemperate.
Only a human being can sink beneath himself (or his archetype, his reason for being), so that intemperance takes on not just moral connotations, but more importantly, psycho-spiritual/developmental ones. Intemperance is self-destructive because it relates all of man's higher possibilities to immediate sensual gratification, thus foreclosing any access to more subtle senses and sentiments (which of course correspond to and disclose more subtle realities), and ultimately his reason for being.
As we have mentioned in the past, one of the marks of spiritual development is a "subtle-ization" and refinement of senses and emotions. One thinks of our trolls, whose coarseness of affect and intellect always precedes them and infuses their every utterance.
Just as the higher realities may be known by their "spiritual perfume," the lower ones may be detected by that unmistakably acrid scent of miasmal swamp gas given off by the unwashed troll. Thus the truism that "only those who look at the world with pure eyes can experience its beauty" (Pieper).
Consistent with what we were saying yesterday about the relationship between time and music, Schuon writes that hearing "reflects intellection not in its static and simultaneous, but in its dynamic and successive mode..." As such, it "plays what could be termed a 'lunar' role in relation to sight; and that is why it is linked, not to space, but to time, the audible being situated in duration." Note also that "in a certain sense, the sun makes known space and the moon, time."
Now, that is an interesting observation because it implies that the ears are more "feminine," while the eyes are more "masculine" (bearing in mind that the one is always present in the other).
Clearly, men are more visual beings -- think of their fixation on the female form, for example, -- whereas women tend to be more auditory, hence the well-known ability of even gargoylish men to attract women with an appealing line of bullshit. For this reason, men are most often deceived by the beautiful form, while women are most often deceived by the seductive BS.
Note also that "female porn," such as harlequin romances, is primarily verbal, not visual. Also, single women (and feminized men) overwhelmingly vote Democrat, another instance of the tendency of our less evolved sisters to fall for the superficially appealing but vacuous rhetoric of seducers such as a Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, or John Edwards. Truly, leftism is "political porn," just as materialism is a kind of crude "cognitive porn" (and just as porn represents the domain of sexuality wholly exteriorized and materialized).
So sight can indeed become quite cramped and body-bound if it remains entirely invested in sensual pleasure. But in potential, it is the least "self interested" of the senses, for as Schuon writes, "Sight alone communicates to us the existence of immeasurably remote heavenly bodies that are perfectly foreign to our vital interests, and it could therefore be said that it alone is essentially 'objective.'"
And since objectivity is in many ways synonymous with truth, it makes perfect sense "to compare light to knowledge and darkness to ignorance" (Schuon), a metaphor that is present in virtually all traditions.
Furthermore, "the eye becomes the metaphysical center of the world, of which it is the same time the sun and the heart" (Schuon). Just as Eye and Light are complementary, so too Knowledge and Reality, which is why the sage is "illuminated by wisdom."
But the latter is again radiant "heart knowledge," like, say, the icon at the right. This "heart of Christ" is therefore the center of the individual and of the entire creation. Thus, it is "the Eye that sees God -- and that consequently 'is' God -- and by which God sees man" (Schuon). To see God with this heart is equally to be seen, but with an inward sight.
I'll leave you with a provocative quote by Schuon: "The two eyes represent a bipolar projection of the brain into a [horizontal] domain of lesser possibility; the brain is thus the intermediary between the analytical vision of the eyes and the synthetic vision of the heart."
And "if the heart and the brain be represented as two extremities of a vertical element, and the eyes as the extremities of a horizontal element," "we obtain the form of a T," which "symbolizes the relationship between two dualities" -- vertical/horizontal, analysis/synthesis, celestial/terrestrial, form/substance, etc. It's as if we are crucified to the senses, and only by losing the life of the lower do we gain the life of the higher -- and thereby transfigure the lower.