This essay discusses intimacy in the context of the relationship between a person and the other. The publication touches on themes such as sexual expression, the #MeToo movement, objectification, cultural deterioration, meaning and the loss of it, beauty, marriage and the everlasting role of the soul in establishing the kind of relationship from which meaning can be derived from and the nihility of existence defeated.
In doing so, I bring together ideas from a diverse range of thinkers, theologians and writers, including Hunter S. Thompson, Jean-Paul Sartre, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Bishop Barron, Saint Theophan, Petre Tutea, Viktor E. Frankl, Sir Roger Scruton and more.
The aim of this essay is to argue that the process and the state of intimacy is a complex and necessary element upon which a meaningful relationship (of any kind, but especially between a person and the other) is established. However, for a range of reasons discussed below in detail, intimacy continues to be eroded and therefore, men and women in today’s developed, modern, and in parts post-modern, Western society have a hard time to establish such a relationship.
The publication offers certain solutions to this issue. Nevertheless, as the situation is quite complex and rather dire, these solutions should be taken by the reader as additional views as to how to remedy this aspect of life that is being eradicated, rather than definitive measures.
Intimacy: Means to What End?
The word “intimacy”, today, typically evokes physical touch protected by privacy, or at least by the perception of privacy, between two people or even more people, depending on how sexually liberated one believes to be. However, this nearly automatic connection between the notion of “intimacy”, physical touch and sexual expression, which is, I dare to say at the risk of being wrong, the norm today, it is at best superficial and at worst a notion that is completely disconnected from intimacy in its fullness.
Before physical touch, let alone sex, intimacy presupposes a number of steps which are mostly psychological and spiritual, which exist to mould one’s perception of the other person in the right direction: away from objectification and towards the sanctity of the individual. This complex process was captured by the American journalist and writer, Hunter S. Thompson, when he wrote that “Sex without love is as hollow and ridiculous as love without sex.”
Thompson was a patriotic with a gentle soul who, despite his aggressive style of writing and reckless lifestyle that often resulted in chaos within his own family, was a gentleman who became an outlaw as the world around him demanded so: only by being outside the increasingly authoritative and constrictive culture of America could he attempt to save the nation from destroying itself. In doing so, he developed a style of journalism called “gonzo” which placed the reporter at the heart of the events which were then described from the subjective perspective of the journalist. For this to happen, a certain bond, a relationship of intimacy, had to be developed between the writer and their environment and subject(s).
The undeniable example is the heavyweight non-fiction documentation of the Californian motorcycle gang known as Hell’s Angels, which was written based on Thompson’s direct experience of living and traveling with the Angels – this direct experience developed bonds of friendships and trust, a level of intimacy between the journalist and the subject of his examination which in this case was an entirely unique cultural phenomenon that sprung out of the devastation of World War II.
Therefore, intimacy goes beyond the relationship between people: it relates to intimacy to oneself, in solitude, intimacy between oneself and nature, through physical work under the empty sky, intimacy between oneself and culture or part of it, through studying, intimacy between oneself and ideas, through thinking, and intimacy between oneself and God, through meditation and tranquillity. These perspectives are built on the four relationships from which one derives meaning, which are all explored in more detail soon. However, the first important point to note thus far is that intimacy is not confined to physical touch.
In this essay, we will stick to the intimacy between people and explore that further: as the title of this article suggests, we are interested in looking at another person through the prism of intimacy and seeing the division and unity of body and soul. However, I do not seek to create abstractions through which to try and understand these two elements (the body and soul) and their relationship within the framework of intimacy.
For example, I will not attempt to explore grandiose concepts such as “eros and civilisation” or to elevate the concept of intimacy to a level that is so abstract that it cannot be relatable. Rather, I shall look at what we can call more generally the issue of intimacy in our developed, progressive, globalised and interconnected Western society. Such an issue has real – psychological, physical and spiritual – implications that are visible and tangible. It is on this journey that I invite the reader to join me.
The issue of intimacy can be stated as such: the heart of human beings holds and craves many things – love, hate, empathy, loathing, envy, sorrow, melancholy and so on – and on this list meaning is among the most important ones; without a meaningful way of living which relates itself to a correct rhythm of life, life eventually becomes a burden, sometimes so big that the abyss of existence crushes one so mercilessly that, for a while, one employs various potent but very destructive patches – addictions of sorts or reckless habits – until that nothingness that echoes when one asks the question “why live” puts its dagger to one’s heart and suicide ensues.
Without meaning we are merely alive but we do not live. One of the most powerful sources of meaning and one which, when found, heals the wounds of existence is a relationship with another person – loneliness, sorrow, anxiety, doubt and fear are all alleviated through a potent mix of courage, love and respect, the virtues required to build and sustain a relationship. But to bring that relationship closer to our hearts, to make it ours so to speak, intimacy is also needed: intimacy is as important as these virtues in building, maintaining and revitalising a meaningful relationship.
It is this important triangulation of mind, body and spirit – intimacy – that is being eroded today by a variety of factors that include technology, marketing campaigns, progressive laws, dangerous ideology and a change in attitude towards human nature which prioritises a scientific and political (social) perspective which reduces men and women to biological, psychological and ideological elements but ignores the spiritual element – the soul – that makes us human beings (not just humans, which are animals).
Therefore, this article is concerned with the treatment of intimacy inside a society which is in the midst of a spiritual crisis. I have documented this development – the decline of religion in the West – in an other essay entitled Western civilisation and religion in a secular age – but other, much more profound and well-read thinkers have developed on this process at greater lengths. These include Nishitani Keij, Karl Löwith and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I encourage the reader to make notes of these thinkers and read their works for they are of outmost importance in order to contextualise the spiritual struggle of our age.
Here we shall only focus on the loss and denigration of intimacy within the framework stressed out above by exploring the stages of intimacy, the role of intimacy and the outcomes of losing from sight this important process and concept, which pertains to the building of a meaningful relationship between two people.
The Function and Loss of Meaning In Relationships
Holocaust survivor and psychotherapeutic Viktor E. Frankl in his magnum opus, Man’s Search for Meaning, quotes Friedrich Nietzsche: “He who has a ‘why’ to live for can bear almost any ‘how’.” The person who has a meaning to live for can endure anything. In fact, Frankl takes Nietzsche’s central idea to overcoming nihilism – the will to power – and transforms it into the will to meaning. So crucial is meaning in our lives.
In mundane talk, this invisible force (meaning) that drives us, that enables us to hope, that prevents us from ending it all is often surfaced through the question: “why get up in the morning?” The answers are often superficial as we do not spend enough time to actually think what we have just said – we have pocked the beast of Existence that reared its head into our hearts and we now have to feed it answers, quickly. However, when the beast roars and the abyss inside ourselves widens, the question reduces itself simply to “why?” and repeats itself hundreds of times a day. If we cannot provide an answer to that “why?”, we shall know unbearable torment and eventually commit suicide.
The West, as a result of the destruction of its spiritual grounding (from which nihilism eventually emerged, as well as other “alternatives” to God such as “humanity”, “nature” or “society” – all built to alleviate the deep wound in the heart of European and Europeanised civilisations), has been going through a severe crisis of meaning. For example, Frankl’s book when it was published in 1946 sold more than ten million copies at the time of the author’s death in 1997, being one of the most successful books in the United States. This alone underlines the thirst for meaning that is even more acute in today’s West, as demonstrated, perhaps, by the success of figures such as Dr. Jordan Peterson and the proliferation of philosophical YouTube channels and websites such as Academy of Ideas, Spiritual Unfoldment with John Butler, Weltgeist and Pursuit of Wonder, among many others.
There are four types of relationships from which meaning can be derived – and, depending on the type of relationship, the role of that meaning can differ in helping one conquer life’s difficulties, especially those spiritual in nature, such as nihilism. These relationships are, to borrow from and build on Petre Tutea’s work Omul: Tratat de Antropologie Crestina, the person in relationship with themselves, the person in relationship with others, the person in relationship with the cosmos (or nature) and the person in relationship with God.
We can see how we are spiritually handicapped as one of the four pillars of meaning upon which our life rests (the relationship between our own self and God) has been removed: our entire existence is now wobbly, and it is going to be even more shaken as we have also eroded our relationship with nature (through the subjugation of nature for economic, scientific and entertainment purposes) and with others (the community has been swallowed by society and society has been morphing into its globalised version, eliminating homes and homelands), leaving us alone with ourselves.
To explore the types of meaning that are derived from the four relationships mentioned above would be an undertaking that will take too much of my readers’ time. However, succinctly, we can mention them here: from the relationship between the person and themselves the meaning derived comes from the continuous journey of knowing oneself and of learning to love oneself as one is, from the relationship between the person and others comes the meaning in the form of belonging to someplace and to someone, from the relationship between the person and nature comes the meaning in the form of admiration of perfection (God’s creation) and in the form of braving life (nature’s obstacles), and, finally, from the relationship between the person and God the meaning takes the form of what Orthodox saint Theophan wrote in The Path to Salvation: “[…] man’s final goal: communion with God.”
When these relationships are distorted – all of which are built on certain types of intimacies (as alluded in the first section of the essay) – the forms of meaning are lost and something else takes place to guide the person through life. When the relationship between the person and themselves is distorted then egoism and materialism replaces the pursuit of knowing and learning to love oneself; when the relationship between the person and others is severed then we see others as resources or means to different ends and the community becomes a vague society without shape and identity; when the relationship between the person and nature is mutilated then nature becomes something to be used, studied and commercialised; and when the relationship between the person and God disappears then man, as Petre Tutea said, becomes a “[…] rational animal that comes from nowhere and goes nowhere.” As such, man takes the place of God as the source of morality, attempting to decide what is good and what is evil. However, because man cannot live without God, new idols are built: science becomes The Science (it its own morality), society is transformed into the religion of Socialism (or, more radically, into Communism) – with their own moralities, the nation becomes the “holly” Nation (it its own morality) and nature becomes Mother Nature (it its own morality) – the altar of man is built on the dead gods of moral relativism that keep being resurrected by our stubbornness.
In Western civilisation and religion in a secular age I have covered the severance of the relationship between the person and God. I have also discussed to some extent the relationship between the person and nature elsewhere, in an essay called What does “Wild” mean? and in two short stories: The River and The Last Days of Shepherds, both inspired by the views of Norwegian philosopher Peter Wessel Zapffe. Moreover, I have already explored in some detail the intimate nature between the person and what one can call home in Nostalgia: The Undying Yearning for Home and The Call of the Paradise Lost. Therefore, let’s now focus on the relationship between two people – which is built and maintained by intimacy – as a source of meaning.
Intimacy: The Heart of the Matter
The Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa reportedly said that “if after I die, people want to write my biography, there is nothing simpler. They only need two dates: the date of my birth and the date of my death. Between one and another, every day is mine.” This we can call to be intimacy between the person and themselves. When desiring, entering and building a relationship with another person, this “every day is mine” becomes, through intimacy, “every day is ours.”
But what is intimacy, this concept that is central to this article? Intimacy is a process that, if performed for a long enough time, becomes a state that defines a relationship. When it comes to a relationship between two people, intimacy can be further distilled into the alure of the mystery, or the unknown, which is represented by the entire person of the other. Thus, intimacy stands in opposition to loneliness, in a sense, because in loneliness others are hell, to paraphrase French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre (“Hell is—other people!”).
As I wrote in We all live in Edward Hopper’s paintings, alluding to the insights of Hannah Arendt, “without others with whom to share our private experiences and create a common world, loneliness usurps the foundations of our humanity.” Intimacy is the process through which and, eventually, the state in which, we escape loneliness, we escape this hell of the other and prevent our humanity from vanishing – the allure of the unknown…
Intimacy as a process is defined by a fusion of desires: on one hand, there is curiosity to find out about that person who, as Oscar Wild reportedly said, sings “a song only you can hear”. This curiosity, in turn, is linked to physical attraction but not confined to it: there is something mysterious, more than biological, that the other person has and that is what draws us near. That something, the essence of their very being, expressed through their eyes is what snares us and it is called the soul. On the other hand there is a need that one must satisfy, a need which is primordially emotional, but which, in turn, becomes physical: such a need is that of the heart to deal, if not to vanquish, the solitude imposed on oneself by the human condition by establishing a connection from which meaning can derive and, in this case, a very specific type of relationship – that with another person.
At first, intimacy is a clumsy process. Afterall, engaging with such a mystery – the other person in whose eyes we see the intangible truth of reality – is initially daunting. Although subtleties are a definite feature of intimacy, the nature of these subtleties changes depending on how long the process of intimacy has been maintained. To begin with, one makes eye contact, observes the other person – their moves, the way their body looks in the light, the way they move their hands, their lips, their clothes, how colours fit together, hears their voice and catches their sight. At this stage, one is simply possessed by a timid curiosity: “who sings that song that only I can hear?”
This is not just flirting, even if it may look like it. One must engage in this initial stage of intimacy with the knowledge, no matter how vague or how acute such knowledge, of one’s condition, with the awareness that a relationship from which meaning can derive is that which calms down the agony of existence. Flirting is when one wants, consciously or not, to primarily satisfy ephemeral needs. Intimacy, which does include flirting, goes beyond it: it is a process that primarily focuses on the person as a human being rather than just a human. The primary quality of the former is the soul, while the latter is defined by biology and psychology.
Most people however engage in simple flirtation, chasing ephemeral gains. As such, in this case, the core goal is not to seek that profound connection with the other person, but to obtain something, often a passing pleasure, a moment’s satisfaction and, if by chance, if fate itself smiles upon one’s destiny, and from that ephemeral pleasure the hidden treasure of a deeper bond is found, then one considers themselves lucky. At least this is today’s most common way of thinking about the initial stages of developing a relationship between the person and the other. In less sophisticated terms, to give an example, one first seeks to sleep with another person and, if somehow the night of extasy is memorable enough (often under the boastful argument of “good conversation”), then maybe, just maybe, their soulmate was found. But meaning that bonds two people is not found in an orgasm or a clumsy joke – so the two depart emptier than before.
Here we see the first by-products of today’s dominant cultural and technological forces in eroding intimacy. The first element – the cultural forces – that are predominant in the West today are an extreme form of liberalism intertwined with other, less prevalent but perhaps more powerful ideologies, such as a new version of Marxism, scientism and atheism, among others. Let us take just one of these cultural forces – liberalism – and examine it a bit further.
Liberalism, as Kenneth Minogue explained sixty years ago in The Liberal Mind, was initially a worldview professed and practiced by people who were tolerant, egalitarian, peace-loving and who exercised great self-control and excelled in compromise. A set of values behind which I myself can fully get behind. However, today liberalism is far from that initial manifestation: it has moved far more towards the Left, distorting the idea of individual freedom and of the individual (the latter being the product of social forces only with no or little autonomy), paving the way to moral relativism to the point that it permits this “freedom” to enslave the individual under instincts and chaotic emotions. This form of liberalism is violently opposed to spirituality and promotes promiscuity in many areas of life, including that of human relationships, often arguing that “as long as this act does no harm to anyone or to the self it is inherently good because it must bring some form of pleasure” – hedonism is the ultimate god of today’s Western liberal order.
Not everything is to be blamed on liberalism, however. The conservatives, culturally speaking, remain a massive disappointment across the West for failing in to convince people why self-restrain, common sense and spirituality pursued through religion are worthy of embracing. However, above all, the very institutions which ought to instil these values and which the conservatives claim to defend – such as the church, the family and education – have been rotting from the inside and, to some extent, had always been: domestic violence, abandoned children, corrupt clergy, false priests and political indoctrination in universities and schools have, throughout human history, been present to different extents in these institutions through which virtues ought to had been passed down to the next generation.
However, here is where we are today: under a dying and often aggressive liberal order and a failed and, in parts, corrupt conservative alternative. Intimacy is not possible in a world which does not acknowledge a soul behind the body and where the voice for arguing for the existence of the soul has lost its credibility. Thus, men and women are drawn to a pseudo version of intimacy that allows them to chase ephemeral pleasures which give the impression of meaning, but which, of course, posses no power to create such meaning.
For example, as stated in the introduction of this essay, the notion of being intimate with someone else is often conveyed as being purely sexual. Hints in lyrics, movies, video games or social media content, which are not always that subtle, point towards the body of the other as being the ultimate prize while “hotness” or whatever slang word is used to describe it is the defining quality of the other.
“I don’t have much to talk to with him / her, but he / she is hot”, is one of the standard replies that one gives themselves or to their friends to justify the chase of meaningless ephemerality. This perspective does two things that ruins intimacy, however: it objectifies the other to a mere body that provides sexual pleasure (a thing that one uses to orgasm and then abandons as soon as the pleasure derived from it ends) and it diminishes the important role that sex plays in bounding two people (sex is primarily an act of creation and secondarily an act of pleasure; if pleasure is put before creation then sex becomes a commodity that devalues itself the more we engage in. The reason for this has to do with sensuality and with the fact that what arouses our sexual interest in the other is not nakedness or the sexual act itself as it is the mystery and anticipation that precede both the naked body and sex itself.)
Moreover, sex is ever increasingly overlayed on things which do not necessarily have anything to do with sex, but which are sexualised so that the primary instinct of wanting to flirt, to engage with the thing more closely, is triggered in order for a click, a purchase, a type of engagement that is inherently meaningless shall occur. As historian Victor Davis Hanson wrote in a brilliant essay entitled Living the “Satyricon”, in which he compared the current state of American society with one of the most culturally decadent periods of the Roman Empire, sexuality unbound is everywhere:
“Our America listens nightly to commercials on how to cure “E.D.” (erectile dysfunction), often by euphemistic “male enhancement,” through vitamins, herbs, and pharmaceuticals like Viagra and Cialis. So too in Rome’s pre-Viagra world, Encolpius visits various sex therapists looking to rekindle his virility through pop cures, painful probing and genital stimulation and massages, and spells and enchantments—integral to his “odyssey” of finding a cure and returning “home” whole.”
Man and woman are reduced to their genitals which are then used, metaphorically, for commercial and political purposes, a process fuelled by ideological ambitions which completely ignores the individuals behind the objectified bodies. Part of this superficiality that pays no attention to other aspects of the individual’s infinitely complex identity is exemplified on dating apps: log in on any of the mainstream dating apps and you will see hordes of men and women showing off their biggest asset: their bodies, their looks, their sexual appetites – what about the memories, the pains, the dreams, the lament inside these people? Advertisements, “academic papers” or “studies” as many newspapers refer to them, psychological discoveries, digital chambers of entertainment, moral relativism, the absence of hardships, technologies that act as steroids for hedonistic tendencies are among the forces that contribute to this dehumanisation of sexual activity and to the reduction of intimacy to mere physical interaction or pleasure.
However, these political, cultural and technological forces, as nocive as they may be, cannot solely be put to blame for these developments. At some point, the individual must begin to take charge of their own life and this involves bearing responsibility for one’s thoughts and actions: freedom comes with consequences and, as I argued in Was the Holocaust Evil? (an essay on moral relativism), the highly appealing “law” passed down by the occultist Aleister Crowley – “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” – is incomplete: do what you wish but shoulder the consequences is the law in its fullness. Therefore, as it applies to our discussion on intimacy here, despite the wave of forces that continue to erode the process and state of intimacy, the individual must – must – at some point in their life take responsibility for how much they allow these forces to act upon him or her. Self-reflection in the search for the Truth is the only process that enables for such responsibility to be acknowledged.
Importantly however, I am not saying that sexual exploration and expression is something negative – but it is something taboo which involves trust in and knowledge of the other person and for these two things to materialise intimacy needs to be pre-existent. In other words, sex is to be first and foremost seen as something that solidifies the relationship between the person and the other from which meaning that can heal and fuel one’s life can be derived. Therefore, the context of sexual behaviour matters, as Bishop Barron stated in a recent sermon, hinting towards the context of morality (as thought by Catholicism in his case) within which any of our actions ought to be conducted. Morality, which is objective – for good and evil exist independent of our own opinions of them – relates, always, to the world of the soul; and thus we come back, yet again, to the importance of seeing in the other more than just a body.
But why is it important to acknowledge the soul behind the body? So that one has something in the relationship between themselves and the other which cannot be reduced to anything quantifiable or qualifiable: the body can be reduced to biology, instincts and needs, or even mere matter, and thus can be viewed as a thing only, the mind can be seen as a psychological machine in which reason and emotion mix together and thus can be viewed as a way of manipulation (“to get into someone’s mind”), but the soul is not reducible to anything: the soul is! If however we need a more down to earth view on this, we can ask: where should we think that the soul resides? Bringing together the wisdom of the ancient Orthodox faith, saint Theophan in The Heart of Salvation provides an answer: in the human heart.
Intimacy, as a process and then as a state, enable us to build those four types of relationships stressed earlier from which the much needed meaning can derive. Hence why the focus has been on what appears to be a nonchalant and trivial aspect of our behaviour – flirtation – as it is in these types of actions, which we regard as unimportant, that the kernel of change towards meaning begins. Therefore, if the initial, clumsy stage of intimacy is reciprocated, that is, if the other person is also in search of such a connection through which meaning can be created and the loneliness of the human condition be extinguished, then the process of intimacy begins its next phase which takes the form of what can be best described as a colourful and intense communication on multiple levels and in many different ways: the person and the other, through discussions and common experiences in diverse circumstances, seek to develop a bond so that eventually “every day is ours” rather than only my own.
Here however we must briefly mention an answer to the question that shall be upon the mind of the attentive reader: “what if it is not reciprocated or, worse, if one is fooled into believing that it is reciprocated when it, in fact, it is not?” We, especially the young (which may be highly intelligent but lack wisdom, as Aristotle observed), in the absence of a recognition of the soul are left with the tools provided by the current society based on science, reason and hedonism to answer these questions: “there are plenty of fish in the sea” – is the common saying, stressing the fundamental perspective of our world on human relationships: nothing but beasts. Or a more gentle but just as damaging alternative is to assign some sort of blame on the other person or even the entire universe: “I deserve better”, is the phrase that suggests this perspective. None of these perspectives are correct, morally, psychologically and physically.
These two attitudes denigrate the individual, reducing him or her to a mere animal – a mere biological corpus to be used, if not, there is another one and then another and so on. The latter perspective also makes people infantile as it permits the avoidance of deep self-reflection and acceptance of responsibility while fostering cynicism and resentment. This then may lead to abuses of substances, excessive time spent on entertainment and other such actions that damage the individual.
Combined however, these two views result in incels and career feminists which hate themselves and the whole world for their own weaknesses. Even worse, as the ongoing case between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard is gearing up to show, and indeed, what the #MeToo movement has demonstrated more broadly, these perspectives, alongside the forces described above, create an environment for profiting from the destruction of intimacy1.
In order to avoid falling into the above psychological, physical moral swamps, the correct answer to the above questions is to heal in one self by strengthening the relationship between the person and the self through meditation and self-reflection, as well as by taking responsibility for what one did wrong to arrive in such an unfortunate position. As Dostoyevsky argued in The Brothers Karamazov, through Starets Zosima: “Everyone is responsible for everyone and for everything.” What this means in practice is that each one of us has the capacity to be in the position of the person who manipulates, lies and betrays. We ought to read history (especially our own) not only as victims but also as perpetrators.
However, assuming that intimacy is reciprocated and none of the above unfortunate events happen, the next stage of this most important process of intimacy begins. As stated, this takes form of a diverse and complex communication. Here is when the two souls begin a deep discussion, through physical interactions, silence, embraces, in nature, spending time alone, dreaming, debating notions of life and death – through the two pairs of eyes, the souls speak to one another. Confessions about sufferings and desires, wishes about the future, fears about the past, such things are at this point in the process of intimacy related and experienced: the person experiences the feelings of the other, and the other experiences the feelings of the person, creating and strengthening the bond upon which the meaningful relationship is being built.
Even this more advanced stage of intimacy is being eroded by the dynamic of forces described previously. For example, there is an expectation for sex after a certain number of dates or there is a desire (which comes from fear of loneliness) of forcing the other person to state clearly their life-long intentions and to never change them. This behaviour more than anything shows immaturity of the person in question form whom the body is the temple and the ego sits on the throne.
What may cure this “fast-paced” and desperate approach – in the mind of the person is fear of losing the other at the same time as fear of losing pleasure manifests – is beauty. This sounds far-fetched but I ask the reader to accord me a bit of patience. Beauty, as I tried to show in an older essay entitled The Function of Beauty, is more objective than we are allowed to believe in the relativistic world of today, and it invites us to contemplate.
Building on the ideas of Sir Roger Scruton, I wrote: “Beauty places us in a state of contemplation. Pursuing and engaging with Beauty brings us closer to God, to the Universe, to the essence of Creation: eternity. More so, through Beauty, we share our environment with others, and we become part of our surroundings: You and I become We, and We and Them becomes Us.” Therefore, beauty creates an environment of contemplation that brings the two souls together evermore.
It is true that the Aesthetic of our developed world – the Aesthetic being the collection of images, colours, shapes, sounds, emotions expressed through concrete things, values expressed through concrete things – mutilates beauty: the buildings we erect, the clothes and accessories we wear, the movies we watch, the books we read, the music we listened to, have little to no beauty, too many times being in direct and purposeful opposition to beauty. Thus, what is left? Nature and the old, ancient, traditional communities – villages, churches, monasteries, farms, huts and cabin logs. Take the other in nature and around these things, in these communities, and one shall see how beauty works miracles right before their very eyes.
Now, beauty cannot cure all our ills, of course. It is well-known for example that the high ranking Nazi officers were enamoured with beautiful art work, but such creations did little to change the tragic course of history. Why is that so? Dostoyevsky answers in The Brothers Karamazov that through beauty God and Evil fight for the heart of man. It is man nevertheless who decides which one to embrace – because of the much cherished free will – and thus how beauty is to be used. I do must mention that I think that beauty, if one does evil deeds while surrounded by it, at least inflicts pain on one’s soul for it amplifies the agitation of the moral compass that we all posses and which tells us when we did something wrong.
However, under the meditative guidance of beauty, there is a chance for a correction of this stage of intimacy which ends when the person embraces the other not because he or she wants to fulfil their own desire but because they want the other to have their emotional needs satisfied. In other words, when one realises that the relationship is not for himself or for herself but entirely for the other, then the next and final stage of intimacy, in which the process becomes a state, begins.
This final step is only concluded through marriage which, as I shall argue in a future essay on gay marriage, it is a spiritual union – the involvement of the state or of any party that is not God is irrelevant.
At this stage in the essay we have reached another realm of important discussion: marriage. Many questions revolve around this idea: how do I know if he / she is the right person? What to do when the marriage does not work? What happens when the relationship deteriorates, even becomes abusive? How to factor in the existence of children, especially when circumstances become difficult – and they can become savagely difficult? And many other such important questions. However, I must apologise to the reader because I do not intend to dive in these important matters in this essay.
What I intended to do – and I hope that I have managed at least in part to achieve this – is to discuss the importance of intimacy, its erosion in the Western world of today and to offer a few suggestions as to how intimacy can be viewed so that a relationship from which meaning can be derived. Moreover, my own nature – which is that of a romantic irrationalist with an attachment to the sacred and a love for the theatre of dangers and rewards that nature represents – shall push me, if I continue now on the topic of marriage, to theorise too much. I am aware of too many devastating instances of marriages that have turned against the couple itself (too many here means more than one, for one shall be enough for an eternity) and therefore, I want to do the subject as much justice as I can. But, again, I do not wish to merely theorise – I wish to gather some practicality behind my thoughts before I shall publish something on the topic.
For now, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this essay. I hope you have found it useful.
- For example, one in four American men and one in ten American women, as recent as 2017, believed that asking someone out for a drink was sexual harassment – according to a poll by The Economist.