Marginalia, no.18

The plants, said Aristotle, live in a perpetual sleep; because they have only a vegetative soul, all their aim is in the flower. They have their mouth in the earth, and it is their hermaphroditic corolla that they expose to the birds of heaven, without the least repression. Literature, today, would be that plant…

~ Jacques Maritain, Art and Poetry (1943)

“Repression” being a bad word nowadays and people generally overfond of exposing their corollas in public, a reader might imagine Maritain intended a compliment; but no, it’s a critique of mindless sensualism.  As one half of a Josephite marriage, Maritain knew a thing or two about repression, I suppose.  Of course, it’s ungenerous to discount a man’s philosophy based on the incomprehensibility of his personal life, so we’ll thank him for the botanically suggestive reminder that -moving heaven downward- the head and heart take anatomical precedence over other symbolic organs.

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