Saturday, February 25, 2017

Love, even intermediated love, will carry you

     "Whence the power of love to conquer even the worst terrors?  In its purest form, it is the love of God.  But just as Dante could not look directly at God, imperfect mortals are hard pressed to love him directly, for which, presumably, having created the possibility of many forms of intermediation, he forgives us.  So one loves those made 'in his image,' image not to be taken literally but more deeply.  Thus, Dante says, 'Beatrice in suso, ed Io in lei guardava.'  'Beatrice gazed upward, and I gazed at her.'  As Beatrice looks upward, the light of God makes her face apprehensible, and in reflecting off her into Dante's eyes allows him to love God by loving her.
     "Love will carry you, if you know it, if you let it, through all tests, through suffering and death.  In suffering, it is as if an angel folds his wings to protect you.  I know this not because I am a philosopher—you can plainly see that I am not—but only because I have been there.  And I report back with no expectation except mockery from those who haven't, which is perfectly all right if one has learned in life to trust one's own eyes and listen to one's own heart."

     Mark Helprin, "Falling into eternity," First things no. 271 (March 2017):  24 (19-24).  "Beatrice in suso, e io in lei guardava" (Paradiso II.22) in the “Testo critico della Società Dantesca Italiana” dated 1921.  Winter's tale (Orlando:  Harcourt, Inc., 1983), pp. 194-195 (Alcedama):

'That’s only love,' Beverly answered.  'You don’t have to believe me.  It’s all right if you don’t.  The beauty of the truth is that it need not be proclaimed or believed.  It skips from soul to soul, changing form each time it touches, but it is what it is, I have seen it, and someday you will, too.'
Harry Penn to Virginia Gamely Hardesty, in Winter's tale (San Diego:  Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1983), 389:
'Most people,' he told her, 'arrive at tortured conclusions via blind and painful routes.  They don't like it when someone like you shows up in a balloon.  You can't expect anyone to trust revelation if he hasn't experienced it himself.  Those who haven't, know only reason.  And since revelation is a thing apart, and cannot be accounted for reasonably, they will never believe you.  This is the great division of the world, and always has been.  When reason and revelation run together, why, then you have something, a great age.  But, in the city, now, reason is predominant.  To argue from any other point of view or by any other means, as you do, is subversive.  You will be attacked.'

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