All I want to have is epiphanies.
I had a regular epiphany this evening while chatting with an online friend. We've known each other virtually for about six months or so and banter in binges about alienation and the soul and what's wrong with "independent" Presbyterians. Anyways, I had been giving unsolicited advice the previous night to the effect that she needed a real portrait--one close enough to show the eyes, without hard lighting and overexposed features. She didn't take my criticisms very well at the time, but came back tonight with a pile of new pictures which she and a friend made later that evening.
She is very beautiful. Terrible as the storm and the lightning. Fair as the sea and the sun and the snow upon the mountain. (She actually looks vaguely like Kate Blanchet too. LOL.)
It was profoundly metaphysical. I suddenly found myself face-to-face with a vision of great beauty and confronted with such terrible personhood. I recognized not a pretty girl but the Ever-Feminine itself, come in human form (digitally registered). I felt as though I were seeing the Muse before me or Philosophy herself descending into my cell as a woman of deeply piercing eyes and such height as to penentrate the heavens themselves and be lost to sight. Or like Sheridan falling in the flash at Z'ha'dum. Or like contemplation of auto to kalon at S 211d.
Often, especially in faceless online communication, one can go on forever without really seeing the express image of the person. We type and read and send and IM and save and read and type and often forget that a human person stands behind that string of symbols.
But this is only part of the larger confusion of our masked and anonymous world. For instance, I got to school with over twenty thousand women. In a few weeks, I will wander around campus and smile lasciviously upon a sea of legs of all sizes, shapes, and descriptions, looking for a young venatrix, one nuda genu. I shall probably never speak with any of them. I may objectify, frame-grab, enfetish them all then (and later) in my own mind. But I will never speak. Yes, it is, sometimes, agony. But we will never speak, for there will never be a we.
Here, in seeing the true portrait of the reformed girl I know online, I experience the ecstasy of recognition. I knew her mind on many things; we'd had several long intellectual chats. But I didn't know her. Now, to see her eyes and the lights of her soul, if only frozen for an instant in a digital camera. The stroke of the pendulum is interrupted; the cord arrested, its orb reels around a new barycenter. So this is what it means for the Word to become Flesh?
I have been in love before. I think I was in love very recently. But there are many shades of amor. I have been in lust. Many times. I have been in despair. I have been in delirium. Over New Year's, I wondered whether I was in pity, like Turin Turambar. LOL. But now, as I have no been for a very long time, not since I was much a younger man, not since the image of my freshman crush would interrogate me in nightly visions, have I felt quite so much in sudden awe. As Dante in awe at last before Beatrice, sotto verde manto / vestita di color di flamma viva.
You see, this is not about the internet or virtual reality or introverts going blind before CRTs. This is about the text and the flesh, and less about the text of the body than the person of the soul. This is about fleeing from persons into texts. About being afraid to look upon the face of philosophy as she truly is. From this experience, I bring away but this simple truth: that I must see the face of the Lady. This is the sort of thing that one can read about in Dante or Petrarch or the others, but which one cannot really read.
I think I have a free will epiphany to write about some time as well. LOL