“The male you could have escaped, for it exists only on the biological level. But the masculine none of us can escape. What is above and beyond all things is so masculine that we are all feminine in relation to it. You had better agree with your adversary quickly.”
“You mean I shall have to become a Christian?” said Jane.
“It looks like it,” said the Director.1
It’s my favorite thing, the four of us sitting around the kitchen table, one in the morning, empty bottles everywhere, eyeballs-deep in the aesthetics of gender, or the theology of sex, or anyway something that has us alternating between cackles and chills.
“I hear Shostakovich,” says Jack P.,2 tracing voluptuous curves in the air to describe how he feels about women but also about certain symphonies, “and I want to put it inside myself. I want it like I want a woman, but I also want it inside me.” He pauses and grins at me. “Is that gay?”
“Well, we’re all feminine with respect to God,” I say, paraphrasing C. S. Lewis, “so that makes sense.” If one response to beauty is the desire to penetrate, another is the desire to be penetrated.
The unspoken assumption is that music, and beauty in general, is a way to experience God, something that the present company (a bunch of Lewis-reading, Beethoven-loving, Aquinas-quoting types) takes for granted.
Jack has just been maintaining that the most beautiful thing in the world is the female body. I’d just say bodies in general, since I appreciate both kinds, even if one of those appreciations is more visceral than the other.
Paul L. questions whether beauty is the right word: if a hungry man sees a hamburger on a billboard, is beauty the right name for what he experiences? Does he delight in the curve of the bun, the pert little sesame seeds, the gentle glistening of the secret sauce?
Or does he just want to devour the thing? What do we want to do with beauty? Gaze at it? Eat it up? Impregnate it, or be impregnated?3 All of the above?
To be continued.