Don Fabrizio felt his heart thaw; his disgust gave way to compassion for all these ephemeral beings out to enjoy the tiny ray of light granted them between two shades, before the cradle, after the last spasms. How could one inveigh against those sure to die? …Nothing could be decently hated except eternity.
~ Giuseppe di Lampedusa, The Leopard
Glossed as infinite linear progression, eternity is just the finality of death. But there are other kinds of eternity. Don Fabrizio, the old leopard, is attending a ball. It’s the image of young couples dancing that shakes him out of his accustomed misanthropy. Human happiness is in the dance, in participation in recurring forms, brief circuits that mirror the choreography of the stars. If eternity is defined as the simultaneous presence of all time, then to have lived and loved once is to live and love forever.