Thursday, June 14, 2007

Lord Help Me, I'm Lookin' for My Mind!

I say, what would life be without the effulgent beauty of being? And yet, the overflowing presence of this beauty is a mystery that can never be explained on any materialistic basis. Not in my book, anyway. Not only is there no reason for the universe to be so beautiful, there is no reason why a species should suddenly pop out of a recently dead universe and have the ability to apprehend the beauty that courses through its every artery and capillary -- or every branch, stem and itsy bitsy green leafy lovely.

Why? And not only is this species able to appreciate beauty, but it is driven to create beauty in all its forms -- visual, auditory, tactile, linguistic, mathematical, scientific. Why is that? Why this appetite for beauty? It seems so unnecessary. Why are women so much more excruciatingly beautiful than they need to be to get the Darwinian job done? Ouch! Why beauty to the point of pain?

As Col. Beaglehole sang on the lone (sadly unreleased but oft-bootlegged) album he did with Alexis Korner during the British blues revival of '67,

You upsets me baby, Yes, you upsets me baby
Like being hit by a fallen tree,
woman, woman what you do to me

In my book I posed the non-obvious question -- at least it wasn't obvious to me or the Colonel -- of whether the beauty that surrounds and abides in us is discovered or just projected. In other words, the universe has been in existence for what, 14 billion "years," right? During its first 10 billion years there was no life and therefore no consciousness -- or so they say, as little sense as that makes. Biological life has only existed for 3.85 billion years, and human consciousness in any meaningful sense only emerged 40,000 years ago next Tuesday.

So if we truly believe that this was a dead and unconscious universe prior to 4 billion years ago, we can't really say that it had any qualities at all, let alone something as complex as beauty. After all, beauty -- along with every other quality -- is a perception of a nervous system. Therefore, it is very difficult to say which is weirder: that a dead and unconscious universe suddenly produced a creature with an ability to apprehend, and a drive to create, beauty; or, alternatively, that the beauty was already there, just waiting to be unpacked and appreciated. And if the latter, I again ask: how and why?

For beauty is always a function of wholeness. That is, the beauty of a beautiful object inheres in its wholeness, harmony and radiance. A work of art cannot be reduced to its parts without losing sight of the artistic vision that organizes the parts and reveals their beauty. Thus, we would have to affirm that wholeness is a prior condition of beauty. But... assuming the cosmos is full of beauty -- which it is -- is the wholeness already there, or is it only in us? Are these "beautiful wholes" a function of our nervous system, or does the universe just effortlessly crank them out?

It's not just the material beauty of the earth and heavens; how about all the incredibly beautiful animals? It's easy to understand how one reptile will be "attracted" to another for the purposes of reproduction -- say, Britney Spears to Kevin Federline.

But animals of one species do not find those of another species beautiful or attractive, unless they are very, very coonfused -->. Rather, they are generally either indifferent to them or frightened of them. They certainly don't find them beautiful (please, no "Beaglehole" jokes -- he's a little sensitive). No deer thinks to itself, "wow, what a majestic mane on that lion!," or "those beady little eyes of Federline's are kind of a turn-off." No. For animals, it's either 1) have sex with it, 2) eat it, 4) ignore it, or 4) run away from it.

But in the case of humans, we find our fellow animals to be beautiful. We even collect them and put them in zoos so that we can admire them. Again I ask: are these animals actually beautiful? Or is it just a trick of our nervous system? If the former, why were these animals beautiful with no self-conscious being to appreciate them until 40,000 years ago? And if the latter, what possible evolutionary reason is there for humans to be hung up on the beauty of other animals for reasons totally unrelated to our reproductive fitness?

It's not just the obvious things, like sunsets, mountains, oceans and thunderstorms that are beautiful to us. How about a long and happy marriage. Why is that a beautiful thing, while divorce is felt to be ugly (not to cast moral aspersions or deny that it is sometimes necessary)? Marriage is a kind of "frame" that serves a similar function as the frame around a painting -- after all, without a frame to define it and set it apart, you can't have a work of art.

Balthasar writes that marriage is "a kind of bracket that both transcends and contains all an individual's cravings to 'break out' of its bonds and to assert himself. Marriage is that indissoluble reality which confronts with an iron hand all existence's tendencies to disintegrate, and compels the faltering person to grow, beyond himself, into real love by modeling his life on the form enjoined. When they make their promises, the spouses are not relying on themselves -- the shifting songs of their own freedom -- but rather on the form that chooses them because they have chosen it, the form to which they have committed themselves in their act as persons.... "

Spouses "entrust themselves foremost to a form with which they can wholly identify themselves even in the deepest aspects of their personality because this form extends through all the levels of life -- from its biological roots up to the very heights of grace and of life in the holy spirit." Paradoxically, freedom "is discovered within the form itself, and the life of a married person can henceforth be understood only in terms of this interior mystery, which mystery is no longer accessible from the sphere of the general."

I didn't intend this post to be about marriage, but that was such a nice passage by Balthasar, I just kept going with it. Actually, I'm still waiting to find out what this post is about, since I haven't even finished my coffee. You could say that I'm looking for my mind.

Which reminds me of a song by the immortal Merle Haggard -- like Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, and many other artists who could only have arisen in America and nowhere else, a practitioner of uniquely Cosmic American Music:

I lost my mind the day I lost your love
I'm not crazy but sometimes I wish I was
If you turn around and find me crawling close behind
It's not you I want, I'm lookin' for my mind

Yes, I'm still searching for the point of this post, which is another way of saying that I'm lookin' for my mind. Or you could say that I'm looking for the wholeness which is somehow guiding me but which I have not yet discovered. I can intuit it -- it's there, just over the interior horizon -- but it's up to me to bring into existence -- to convert its potential into actuality.

Which emphasizes the point that both Truth and Beauty -- and the freedom to discover them -- are a function of wholeness. Indeed, wholeness is the cosmic prerequisite of the possibility of truth or beauty. And as a matter of fact, as I pointed out in the Coonifesto, it is also a precondition of Darwinian evolution. That is to say, natural selection rests on the assumption that there exist prior "wholes" -- whole organisms -- for it to operate on. There is no materialistic philosophy that can account for wholeness, or true unity in diversity.

Therefore, I think I understand the point of this post: love, truth, beauty, and freedom are not effects of existence. Rather, they are causes of existence. Thus, to say, for example, "God is Love," is not a mythological or speculative statement. Rather, it is a scientific statement. No, it is beyond that -- it is a metaphysical certitude upon which the foundation of science rests. For who is not in love with truth, with beautiful Sophia?

Don't get me started.


I just received an email from a Raccoon that illustrates my point. He seems to have spent most of his life "looking for his mind," but without really knowing that he was embarked on the search until relatively recently. An excerpt:

"I had been learning this one language, English, for the past 41 years. What I didn't realize during those 41 years is that either I've been learning another language or it was already in me, waiting -- unused, but there. This other language was made up of just, let's say, nouns. I read some of your writing and the thing I read that I call the 'last thing' constituted a verb. The instant I read that, everything I had learned about language (structure, usage, grammar, rules, etc.) from the 1st language suddenly overlaid the 2nd one and the verb I'd learned from you linked it all together in the 2nd language, and in an instant, all the meaning flowed down like a dam breaking.

"Or, sort of like a puzzle was being built -- I wasn't building it, didn't even know I had pieces -- but I found the missing piece, which, independent of what this particular last piece stood for, was no more significant than any of the others, its only distinction being perhaps that it was the last piece. It was placed with the other pieces and in an instant I recognized, 'Hey there's a puzzle here!' But a completed puzzle. Where literally, before the puzzle appeared, I didn't even know I had the pieces."


That's what I call a clean kill, or eros shot straight through the heart.

This is another way of saying that parts cannot exist in the absence of the whole -- nor time in the absence of eternity, the many in the absence of the One, or beauty without a Creator. Or, in the words of Rabbi Kushner, "the end is seeing for even one moment that the apparent multiplicity is in reality a unity." But a dynamic unity in diversity in which the one is a necessary condition of the other -- and whence the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time (Eliot).

Wholly matterimany, congratulations on the equation of your cosmic birth. Oh my stars, He expectorated a mirrorcle, now you're the spittin' image!


monkfish noman said...

Marriage, beautiful as it is, gets panned by quite a few deeply spiritual people.

Celibacy has been the accepted norm for the totally committed God-lover.

I wonder why this movement of celibacy and the turning away from marriage exists. It must have some utility.

Thoughts, anyone?

Gagdad Bob said...

Truly loving and companionate marriage is a very late psychohistorical development. For example, just look at the Islamic world, where women are hated because feared.

dweller on the threshold said...

I think marriage is a place that most of us can emcompass in which we can learn to love the way that we are called to. Having it be about a specific person whom we care deeply about and are attracted to, gives us a head start on the difficult task of giving up living for ourselves and learning to sacrifice for the other (in which we find our real selves). But there are those few who can actually love the unseen well enough to learn those lessons without a human object. This gains them the advantage of relatively undivided attention to the task of becoming. Personally, I'm extremely grateful that God provided for both as I need all the help I can get.

River Cocytus said...

Celibacy has the utility for allow certain persons to focus their love and work entirely on God. I tend to think of marriage as the default position. Perhaps for the true saint no other is required than God (which seems to have been true since the very beginning) but for the rest of us - who are all turned about still, or so to speak, but probably more lost, there is need for the seed to die so that it may bear fruit.

But God has a unique purpose for all, and to assume that being celibate is more righteous than being married is, I think, a mistake. Because if we're talking about righteousness vis a vis God (which is what matters) neither celibacy or marriage is a whit more righteous.

Certainly, neither if done rightly can be considered sin, which is what matters.

We may think what we wish of St. Paul's writings regarding marriage/celibacy. There are differing ideas as to what his intent was, but I do not believe he intended that celibacy would be considered the path for all, but rather he was encouraging those who were called to celibacy to not be swayed to marriage because of pressure. The opposite may be said of us today - if that old tentmaker was writing in these days - that if you are called to marriage do not let yourself be swayed to the path of celibacy just because of certain people's philosophical arguments.

NoMo said...

Sorry, I couldn't resist this. From Matthew 19 -

Some Pharisees came to Jesus to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?"

"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."

"Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?"

Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery."

The disciples said to him, "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry."

Jesus replied, "Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others have been made eunuchs; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it."

will said...

True celibacy IS a marriage.

Magnus Itland said...

There is also the wider psychogenesis of the human race, or of civilization. We tend to imagine that the human soul was always the same, because only mainly the great minds of the past are still remembered. But the truth is that our ancestors, and many people around the world still today, had more limited mental resources. We stand on the shoulders of giants, well those of us who are willing to accept that position.

It is entirely possible that in the past, spiritual development was impossible within ordinary life. Thus celibacy, monsteries and all those other special trappings. Even today, being a mystic benefits from some very careful choosing of spouse, if any. But as we advance (and we must), there will come the time where anyone who wants be a mystic in their family, at their job, at play, in their sleep, always living in that open field of consciousness where there are no walls. Today this is hard in an ordinary life, and many still need a brotherhood or sisterhood to support their choice. But the way is toward living a very ordinary life in a very extraordinary way. And some are already there.

Magnus Itland said...

And anyway, we just recently had a sermon here on the spiritual meaning of marriage, manlyness and womanlyness. It explained pretty convincingly that God didn't make people male and female just because he likes to watch sex.

James said...

There are two tribes, religious and non-religious. One major difference that I've noticed between the tribes is my religious friends are all married with children, while the non-religious are still swinging singles. I'm in my early thirties, and I've recently, since I started here, become religious myself. I feel like I stand at the cusp of both worlds. What strikes me about this post is it is like reading another language. I want to get married, so I don't have to grow old alone. I've had enough of the dating scene. My reasons are entirely self centered. My thinking is "what is in it for me?" rather then "giving up living for ourselves and learning to sacrifice for the other" (dweller 3rd comment). I have a group of single , non-religious friends that I hang out with. These folks are pleasant enough, there not bad people, but marriage is simply not on the table. I've asked them about putting another before themselves. The most common response is incomprehension, or "what is the point." These folks are having too much fun to worry about marriage. I think there is something about faith, about putting something else ahead of yourself that makes it possible to be in a truly loving marriage. Secularism doesn't teach commitment. What scares me is I see to the end of things, and I don't see happy endings for any of these folks. I'm learning to speak the language, but I'm still easily confused. Marriage is a whole lot more then I though it was. It is humbling to discover you know so little about something so common.

Robin Starfish said...

Waddle & Squat
two old mates at home
you've told that one fifty times
but it's still funny

Ishi said...

You wrote,

"For beauty is always a function of wholeness. That is, the beauty of a beautiful object inheres in its wholeness, harmony and radiance. A work of art cannot be reduced to its parts without losing sight of the artistic vision that organizes the parts and reveals their beauty. Thus, we would have to affirm that wholeness is a prior condition of beauty."

You must be unaware of Japanese Aesthetics and their conceptions of beauty. Traditional Japanese Aesthetics are most often a celebration of non-wholeness, incompleteness and impermanence. This is true in ideas of Beauty in East Asian Buddhist culture in general but is most clear in Japan. The concepts of Wabi-Sabi, Mono no aware and Yugen, which make up the core of Traditional Japanese Aesthetics, are unequivocally in opposition to what you THINK is universal about Beauty.

cousin dupree said...

So sorry!

dilys said...

With Ishi I appreciate (though less learnedly than he) the neti-neti "beautiful flaw/absence" way of beauty. May I propose that a sense of "non-wholeness, incompleteness and impermanence" definitionally chimes with our greater-archetypal sense of a Whole? And that the haunting beauty of something not too tidied up or summary, refers wordlessly and sub-emotionally to our heliotropic relation to an overarching Transcendence, even if grasped as a Void?

And the Asian tradition has developed lingering-in-that-space into, well, an Art.

James, IMO this is a rich discomfort you describe. In the people I know, it has been a turn from "who needs what the human race has always cherished" to "well, only if it's good enough" to, finally, Narcissus sliding off that damn rock and diving into the depths of the pool. That has been the trajectory for me and mine, though I catch myself sunning and immobile too often still.

Two observations I have heard and agree with:
"Find a person to whom you enjoy being kind,"
"The matter is urgent, but there is no hurry."

dilys said...

Meditations on the Tarot offers extended consideration of that to which both "rightfully mated," and "celibate," are subordinate -- chastity, to which all aspirants are called, regardless of our sphere of life. A lifelong discipline with literally sobering ramifications of decency, sacrifice, humility.

No escape in either.

maineman said...

Even though I know nothing at all about Japanese Aesthetics, I'm still compelled to ask: Why can't something be considered beautiful, not because it conveys wholeness but because it implies wholeness by representing it's components?


"Having it be about a specific person whom we care deeply about and are attracted to, gives us a head start on the difficult task of giving up living for ourselves and learning to sacrifice for the other (in which we find our real selves)."

Not sure it's as simple as that. Sometimes being challenged with intimacy actually seems to breed a retreat from that kind of commitment. Seems to me that it's with the children that we're openned up from without and given a head start.

Smoov said...

Leftists attempt to fathom What is the meaning of life?

Eagleton will sell a million copies of this thing. At least he eviscerates the "constructionist" set, however he remains mired in Marxism and the usual reductionist twaddle that cuts God out of the picture.

This book will cause leftists to feel morally and philosophically superior for years. I'm already dreading the next round of cocktail parties in New York. Sigh.

will said...

". . . a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of their solitude . . . "


dame edith waterfowl said...

I must object to that shameful photograph!

Really now, if I wanted to indulge in pornography, I would be watching Animal Planet.

I might point out to any interested parties that the Beaglehole/Korner so-called musical album was recorded here in Waterfowl Manor, in my wine cellar to be exact where the odor of marijuana still lingers in the walls.

Col. J. C. Beaglehole said...

Yes, I must admit that the echo in that old cellar -- what we in the biz refer to as "slapback" -- was superb.

On the negative side of the ledger, the spirits it held were younger than my woman, when every bluesman knows that the reverse is the ideal -- that if one's liquor is older than one's woman, one "gots a good deal," in the vernacular of the American negro. That's the short version of why Edith and I went our separate ways. If you want the whole story, you'll have to locate a copy of the album. Side 2, track 3, "Somebody Done Changed the Lock on the Cellar Door."

Anonymous said...

smoov, Eagleton may not include God in his picture, but he praises Agape just the same. Think of Aquinas and his belief that Faith and Reason point in the same direction. Eagleton may not have Faith or God but his Reason led him to where you'd want him to go, more or less. This doesn't mean you have to be best friends but why not make common cause, or at least avoid making a silly attack, with those whose Reason agrees with your Faith in practicality.

cousin dupree said...


River Cocytus said...

Marxism has never agreed with my faith, for one. Claims about neighborly love nonwithstanding, they will have to hang me from a gallows before I'll surrender my faith to such a heresy.

Liberation theology? Chic? Oh yes, coercive Agape - that's the best kind, you know, because God makes us love him too, you know.

maineman said...


No reason to assume Faith and Reason point in the same direction. Reason is often the Devil's handmaiden, focusing on the creation rather than the creator and ultimately extolling the reasoner as a god.

Don't know about Eagleton, but hard to imagine it's anything other than narcissistic piffle, a la The Dawkins Delusion.


"Roach free salad". I really liked that one. Can it be immortalized to signify the process of beating yourself over the head so that it feels good when you stop?

maineman said...

So I scanned the review of the Eagleton book and, what do you know:

"The meaning of life is not a solution to a problem," he writes, "but a matter of living in a certain way."

That's the ticket. It's all about us, which means it's all about him. How'd I guess?

Anonymous said...

maineman, well, how responsible of you. You scanned a review of a book, that makes well informed indeed.

If you read the book you won't find anything like Dawkins' book. If you want to know what Eagleton thinks of Dawkins read his review at the london review of books online

As to Faith and Reason, I think I'll go with Aquinas thanks.

maineman said...

I guess I was smug. Sorry.

ButI know he panned Dawkins, which made it all the more surprising that he ended up in bed with him at the end. The quote is his, unless the reviewer erred.

cosanostradamus said...

Time out for a breath of fresh

juliec said...

Cosa - wow! Thanks for that. A fine example of beauty in unexpected places.

Teri said...

My 0.2 cents worth for James:

You are definitely wiser than the frisky young singles you hang out with. They are likely still of the idea that they will never grow old. I can't completely comprehend your situation as I married at 19 and am still married to the same guy at age 56. It makes me very happy to come home to someone who will always love me and would put my welfare above anything else. Better yet, it's been tested over time. We each know that if the other has a serious illness, that the other will be there through it all.

The one thing I did want to warn you about are children. If you are considering what life will be like as you get older, you should also consider starting a family. We do not have kids. It is going to be difficult as we age, knowing that we do not have any family members who will care for us. Maybe Bob would be a better person to tell you of how children might enrich your life. I'd highly recommend marriage. Take a little time to make sure that it's the right person. Don't rush into it like we did after the first year ;)

Van said...

ishi said "The concepts of Wabi-Sabi, Mono no aware and Yugen, which make up the core of Traditional Japanese Aesthetics, are unequivocally in opposition to what you THINK is universal about Beauty."

It's been a while, I could be wrong here, but I think Maineman has the truer take on Japanese art:

"Why can't something be considered beautiful, not because it conveys wholeness but because it implies wholeness by representing it's components?"

Japanese art (architecture, landscaping, and more) consistently strives for the sparer use of color, line and form, not in an attempt to deny or ignore the whole, but in order to evoke a more vibrant whole within the person, rather than attempting to freeze it in pale imitation.

Van said...

cosanostradamus said... "Time out for a breath of fresh"

Cosa, my parents were big into opera, sang it around the house... for some reason it never took with me, too many of the voices just struck me as fake.

This guy didn't get more than three beats into the 'song' and I had goose bumps and moist eyes... wow. Thanks.

James said...

Thank you all for your 2 cents and words of wisdom. Good Night all.

River Cocytus said...

van - I think it has to do with the live experience, all Gospel music transformed for me after I played it/experienced it live. Paul seems like such an ordinary, genuine fellow, no prima donna. So he could reach us in a way that some others could not.

River Cocytus said...

Speaking of wholes/parts, I recall the 'slice of life' style of literature - very 'fragmented', but it seems that this focus on the part without denial of the whole is the whole aesthetic -- the part is existent, the whole is void. So the whole now almost fills the space of the imagination, instead of being boxed in by preconceptions. There is something to be said for the style that makes whole extant - thereby calling to mind each part in turn, in its relationship to the whole. The opposite method - which does not oppose but complements - is to make the part extant in order to bring to mind the whole in relationship to that part. In this sense, this Japanese aesthetic might be considered esoteric in and of itself, since a deeper knowledge is required - it is not explicit - to intuit the whole.

But then, I think this difference is the difference between the North and South, which Schoun mentions - the sparse versus the lush.

Aquila said...


Astonishing. News about that guy has been all over the Internet, but only now have I seen the clip that's made him an overnight celebrity.

It even fits in with our ongoing discussion about transcendent beauty emerging from unlikely places. Who would have thought that this lumpy, homely Welsh workingman would have the voice of an angel? Despite my half-Italian background, I never really got into opera, but Signor Potts' aria sent chills down my spine. Perhaps I should give the art a second listen...

Alan McCann said...

Thanks for the link to this singer - everyone in my kitchen was having the goosebump experience just from hearing it and then I showed them the video.

There is nothing like live experience for many arts - even professional hockey and soccer cannot be appreciated until watch live (OK, so they're not quite "art" but they do call soccer the "beautiful game").

Van said...

I think the two tribes might also be broken out into those who consent to mature, and those cling to being immature.

"Secularism doesn't teach commitment. What scares me is I see to the end of things, and I don't see happy endings for any of these folks."

Those who are in it for the surface thrills, deifinitly miss out on the deeper satisfactions.

As long as 'fun' is their standard, they will know no more. Another hallmark of the immature is shortsightedness. Like Aesop's tale of the Ant's and the Grasshopper, they refuse to see the obvious, the... ahem... self-evident.

Some versions of the tale, have the Ant's taking pitty on the Grasshopper & taking it in for the winter. Some versions have it dying & their dining on him. The lefty-secularist's bank on the former, unfortunately the green grasshoppers will likely experience something more like the latter.

Until they choose to look past fun and not fun, they really won't take much notice of either possibility.

That is one of the things which commitment, marriage, children... maturing... naturaly draws you into realizing - that there are deeper values beyond mere fun - a state of mind where the fun, the pretty and the cool molt off of you as you grasp the deeper and infinitly richer meaning of the Good, the Beautiful and the True.

Something else which the perpetual swingers will miss out on, is a deeper understanding and realization of their own self.

That sense of seeing that without this other person, you would be without yourself. Without the You that you want to be and strive to be, not only because they depend on you, but because you know it will mean the world to them to be the best you can be... and also that you know they will understand when you are sometimes much less. And the satisfaction of drawing them into a similar experience of themselves.

Ironically, one of the worst things about a hedonistic lifestyle is how devoid of true pleasure it truly is.

CrypticLife said...

Perhaps in considering parts versus wholes and beauty, one might consider the beauty many find in fractals -- where the distinction between part and whole is blurred. Just a thought.

Van said...

James said "Marriage is a whole lot more then I though it was. It is humbling to discover you know so little about something so common."

heh-heh (cue Jeremy Irons voice) 'You have nooo idea'


NoMo said...

Cosa - Wow is right. Makes me imagine an entire world devoted to the discovery of the good, the true and the beautiful - wherever it might be found. Then, I wonder at how much the world is missing - at all the potential that goes unnoticed and unappreciated into infinity. Perhaps a dimension of heaven is the unveiling of all that was overlooked in the herebelow.

James - Cast you hopes on He Who knows your every thought and desire, and trust that He will provide you with exactly what you truly need.

sato the jade said...

i consider the female pudenda the most beautiful thing in the world--it is whole, yet has a hole in the middle where life issues forth.

It blossoms like a flower, is moist like the sea, is infinitely desirable yet scary and unfathomable.

It is a source of pleasure and pain. The pudenda has it all--I could look at one for hours (and I have). It is the ultimate meditation object.

Susannah said...

"Ironically, one of the worst things about a hedonistic lifestyle is how devoid of true pleasure it truly is."

The Hedonistic Paradox: when you make pleasure your goal, it ultimately eludes you.

Teri, I found your comment so touching. I think one of my lines of reasoning in having so many children (perhaps more of an after-the-fact justification) is not only that they'd be there for us when we're old, but also that they'd be there for each other, should they lose their parents earlier than we'd all like.

Then there's also the transparent attempt to guarantee grandchildren. Nothing in life's guaranteed, of course, but I guess my chances are pretty good.

I saw the headline on that fellow, and I'm so glad I followed your link, cosa. What an unassuming talent he is. That was lovely.

"When they make their promises, the spouses are not relying on themselves -- the shifting songs of their own freedom -- but rather on the form that chooses them because they have chosen it, the form to which they have committed themselves in their act as persons...."

We (me 'n my other half) call that form "covenant." And what you said about the framework providing freedom is very true.

Honestly, marriage at first was an affront to my sense of "self," of privacy. (Introvert.) I am *so glad* I was forced to grow beyond that. I look back and shake my head in wonder and dismay at my utter selfishness. (No doubt I'll still be doing that another 16 years on.)

Truly does scripture say that your physical being is no longer your own in marriage, and in the same way your spouse's body belongs to you. It's impossible to understand what it means to become one without that capitulation.

maineman said...

James, I think people your age are also dealing with the cultural impact of the pill and the sexual revolution. Once women stopped needing men to take care of them when they got pregnant, more men said, "Thank you very much!" and took the opportunity to take the opportunity to behave badly.

Now, I see young women as often falling into categories of partiers, those who hold out for the real thing, and a broad middle group that will bond with a man but neglect to nail his feet to the floor so that, after they've invested 2 or 4 or 8 years in the relationship and he decides to move on because he can, they're both left empty handed and a lot further down the road. No commitment, no kids, no nada.

The dirty little secret of the feminist movement is that it ultimately gave men license to neglect and devalue women in ways that were never permitted -- at least not so freely -- before. And the women seem to be the glue for the committed relationship. And they know where all the shoes are.

Susannah said...

I was interrupted last night, but wanted to finish my comment...teri, I think you will be amazed someday when your many spiritual children are revealed to you. :)

Susannah said...

Maineman, I often wonder how my husband found anything before he married me.

Jacob C. said...

Ishi and Dilys:

The incomplete gives us a sense of that which is complete.

The impermanent gives an awareness of what is permanent.