Men and Mountains, Part I
Sep 11, 2011
Following my strange little wee-hours rant on apes and desire last night, reader Jamie added a quotation from C. S. Lewis, which of course is where I got the idea in the first place — thanks, Jamie:
If you find in yourself a desire which no earthly thing can satisfy, the logical conclusion must be that you are made for another world. That other world—heaven—echoes in you.
And reader Peter asks an excellent question:
Now I’m dying to have you elaborate on the obvious – what about your SSA? Does that desire lie, or is that, too, a reflection of something heavenly?
The answer is yes, to both, in different ways.
I’ve always been in love with a kind of beauty that is specifically masculine. I don’t mean this only, or even primarily, in a sexual way. Masculinity and femininity aren’t limited to humans, or even to animals in general. They’re archetypes, and they’re everywhere. Oops, I’m paraphrasing Lewis again, so I’ll let him speak for himself:
Gender is a reality, and a more fundamental reality than sex. Sex is, in fact, merely the adaptation to organic life of a fundamental polarity which divides all created beings…Masculine is not attenuated male, nor feminine attenuated female. On the contrary, the male and female of organic creatures are rather faint and blurred reflections of masculine and feminine. (Perelandra, p. 172)
I’ll stop before I quote the whole book, but you can see a bit more here.
So my love for the masculine has sexual ramifications, but the root of that love is not sexual, or is only partly sexual. Part of what I love about men is the same thing I love about climbing mountains, or playing in the waves when they’re ten feet tall. This isn’t, obviously, a phenomenon limited to men with SSA.
All archetypes meet in God, the author of both men and mountains. I’ve stood on a mountaintop in New Hampshire, or under a terrifyingly starry sky in Colorado, and thought my heart would burst. I think it would, if I felt those things in their entirety; there’s only so much beauty you can take.1 But to increase in holiness is to increase in your capacity for the perception of beauty. The closer we get to Heaven, the more beauty the heart can stand.
So part of my desire for men is traceable to my love for the masculine, and that love has its proper fulfillment — partially now, in my fellow men and in nature; but fully later, in God.2
But nobody wants to go to bed with a mountain.3 That’s the part of my SSA that isn’t traceable to love of the masculine per se, that is sexual and emotional as well as aesthetic, and that is more problematic. But I think this post is long enough already, don’t you? Stay tuned for part two.