Monday, January 20, 2003

The Intimate Journal of Henri Amiel: May 21, 1868

May 21, 1868

Why, I ask myself, does love always make one think of death? Because it is itself a death, death to ourselves, the annihilation of the sombre despot of whom the Persian poet speaks, the extinction of egoism, of the personal, solitary life. And this death is a new life; but this life is indeed a death.--Why is it that woman, nervous, feeble, timid as she is, feels that danger has ceased to exist when she is with the one she loves? Because to die on the heart of her beloved is her secret dream. Paradise for her is to be together; whether in suffering, joy, pleasure or death is a secondary matter. To cease to be two, to make a single one, at all costs, everywhere, always: that is her aspiration, her soul, her cry, her instinct. Woman has only one religion, love; love has only one concern, ecstatic identification, the combustion of isolated beings and their union in a single flame. And there are people who deny and scoff at mysticism, when half of our species has no other cult, no other faith, no other ideal, when the supreme state glimpsed by the tender feelings, by lofty piety and great poetry bears witness to this moral reality! Mysticism, which disturbs the reason, is the natural home- land of the soul. Its more summary method ends in the same result as speculation; it brings one back to Unity and the Absolute. It breaks down the temporary and fictitious barriers of individuality. It gives vent in the finite breast to the overflowing sentiment of the infinite. It is an emancipation, a metamorphosis, a transfiguration of our poor little Self.

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