A Symposium on Love (Also, List #20)

This evening — or yesterday evening, as I seem to have crept past midnight into the new day — I participated in a symposium on the theme of love put on by the faculty for our students to close of a Antiquated Day, a day devoted to old fashioned things and a new tradition as of last year at my university.

The readings were diverse: from Shakespeare and Dante, Alice Munro and John Donne, from humanist orations for — and against — marriage, a meditation on the nature of love as requiring a kind of completeness that can only then paradoxically understand itself as lacking, starting with Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Ode to a Skylark beautifully delivered from memory.

I brought two pieces with me: a passage on friendship from C.S. Lewis’ The Four Loves, and a passage from my own story.  I wanted to read my own work, but was hesitating — not wanting to put myself next to Dante and Shakespeare and Donne and Munro (except, of course, I do; in the sense that I want also to be classed as a writer with them; even if I am only a minor one).  Then one of my colleagues mentioned how disappointed she was not to have been able to find her copy of The Four Loves, and when I expressed my doubts, encouraged me to read mine and for her part read the passage from C.S. Lewis.

So it was that I read a few pages from the heart of my story about the love of brothers and friends and the artist for his art and the lover for his beloved.  I admit I didn’t look at anyone as I read it; I didn’t dare.

But I can say: I read some of my novel aloud in public,

I am so grateful for the opportunity.  I am not sure what I can say I learned today that isn’t overshadowed by that gratitude, but I learned I can share something dear to me, fearful as I am of its quality, of its reception, of its worth.

I also learned something to think about — not that love is a paradox, which I had guessed already, but that part of its paradox is the dance of abundance and want, of completion and lack.  Eros is not a god because he requires a beloved, says Socrates in the original Symposium of Plato; God is love, says many another tradition.  God is complete, perfect, beyond all need: and yet he overflows with creation — perhaps because his love is fuller with an object to love and pronounce good?  A mystery.  But a beautiful one, the resplendent darkness beyond light of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite we read about today, this love that moves us as well as the sun and the other stars.

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2 thoughts on “A Symposium on Love (Also, List #20)

  1. What a milestone, reading your work in public!! It sounds like it went well. I’m sure your story fit in with the greats and the theme of the day. Your last paragraph here about love is beautiful. Miss you, xo

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  2. Pingback: Happy 2014! | The Rose and Phoenix Inn

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