Marginalia, no.72

His eyes lock Ben into a stare of heartbreaking brown blankness that seems to elucidate with a paralyzing clarity Ben’s state: his dungarees, his fifty cents, his ten years, his position in space, and above the particulars the immense tinted pity, the waste, of being at one little place instead of everywhere…

~ John Updike, You’ll Never Know, Dear, How Much I Love You

A variation, perhaps, on the theological dilemma known as the Scandal of Particularity which, put broadly, poses the question: how is it that the ephemeral can contain or express the eternal?  It’s the problem not only for religion but for music, art, literature and, really, all human endeavor.  It may be felt acutely by anyone who has ever been in love, witnessed a birth or a death, or had the sense, if only for a moment, of the vast yearning spaces that swirl in the germ of the self.

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