|The First Mourning- Bouguereau|
To say that this is a spreading problem is undeniable-- pornography has grown into an economic titan, television and film are becoming increasingly adult-themed, and the female form is exploited at every opportunity. All these mechanisms have a common engine that strives to take one thing out of the equation-- their subject's personalities. They exploit the beautiful, and in the act, remove the sublime.
|Wanderer Above the Sea Fog- Friedrich|
Ours is a culture obsessed with the beautiful. It seeks to capture it with film, pixels, and sounds. Our eyes have been trained to drift instantly to the measurable aspects of female interactions. Too often our conversations about women are uninspired—how hot was she? What was her body like? Instead, where are the men who are less concerned with a woman’s shape but whether or not her mind has stretched out into the far reaches of her potential? When we stop recognizing the limitless in each other, we stifle it.
The hard truth is that recognizing the majesty of the female soul increases our sense of hesitation in approaching it. Unfortunately, simply having the courage to allow ourselves to be vulnerable doesn't always result in sublime experiences. Unlike many of the forces of nature, we can't always have control over others souls like we wish we could. We can't force others to feel for us the way we feel for them. But if we as men choose to hold out with some integrity, then we can eventually reach the sublime experience described by Kant: we will share dominion with a woman not because we force her, but because she has chosen to offer it freely to us as we offer ourselves to her in harmonious partnership. We are then exposed to both of Kant's concepts of the sublime-- another soul, limitless and measureless, has aligned itself with our own, replacing our vulnerability with security. This pursuit requires strong people who are willing to shutout the pervasive influences that tell us to seek out the easy in life. It requires both patience and ferocity and a desire to cultivate the depths of our own souls while helping others do the same. In this framework, pain no longer becomes a hindrance, but a foundation.
Ezra Pound described the need for these kind of men in the last two stanzas of his poem "Revolt:"
Great God, if men are grown but pale sick phantoms
That must live only in these mists and tempered lights
And tremble for dim hours that knock o'er loud
Or tread too violent in passing them;
Great God, if these thy sons are grown such thin ephemera,
I bid thee grapple chaos and beget
Some new titanic spawn to pile the hills and stir
This earth again.