It was a passion neither of the mind nor of the flesh; rather, it was a force that comprehended them both, as if they were but the matter of love, its specific substance. To a woman or to a poem, it said simply: Look! I am alive.
~ John Williams, Stoner
Can love of persons and love of art really be construed as expressions of the same basic force? Is philanthropy (in the literal Greek sense) a subset of aesthetics – or vice versa? Elsewhere Williams writes that love is “not an end but a process through which one person attempts to know another.” In Tolstoy or Dostoevsky, George Steiner writes that “literary criticism should arise out of a debt of love.” Can we speak of a basic ecstatic impulse, to know and be known, encompassing all these things?