|Image from the film "A Hidden Life"|
In Plato’s Symposium, Socrates proposes a definition of love that is mature and pragmatic; love for Socrates isn’t a romanticized or fantastical object, but a serious search for wisdom and beauty and a desire for immortality, as the priestess Diotima explains. For Socrates there’s a deep intention to surpass life’s physical and ordinary atmosphere.
Pausanias’ definition of love as possessing a “celestial” element is correct; he proposes a love that involves the acquisition of wisdom and virtue. He fails to grasp the full meaning of love, however, when he proposes that the way to achieve it is through a sexual encounter. Pausanias thinks about an ecstasy found more in physical gratification than in a metaphysical encounter between the higher senses of mind and soul. Pausanias was unfortunate not to have a Diotima in his life who could set him straight on such matters of love (an encounter with Saint Therese of Avila, for example, might teach him a thing or two about true ecstasy).
Socrates wants the other men in the symposium to understand that love - true love, a higher love - is obtained through the appreciation of beauty and wisdom. Only then can one finally penetrate “the mystery of Love”. Eryximachus was close when he suggested, rather systematically, that man must seek an “orderly love”, that is, a love that is directed “in temperance and justice, toward the good, whether in heaven or on earth.” Sadly, the doctor’s definition isn’t enough for the philosopher. Eryximachus is too restrained and dull. Only philosophy can orchestrate a harmonious credo. Diotima, says Socrates, believes that men who have beheld beauty “in the right order and correctly” come closer to the goal of loving.
If we seek wisdom and beauty in our daily lives, we seek to connect to the higher elements of this universe. The higher we reach, the closer we will encounter the spirit of love. For True Love exists between men and gods. An encounter with this type of love will allow us to see things “pure, unmixed, not polluted by human flesh or colors or any other great nonsense of mortality”; we will see “Beauty in the only way Beauty can be seen” – in pure spiritual ecstasy.
-Edgar Avendano @latinofilmmaker