I confess I always wanted a different image than the ladder of the Symposium — Diotima’s ladder. It made it seem that as you ascended, the lower stages got further and further below, discarded as false steps, each step up a rejection of the trusty rung below, the rungs that, after all, got you up there. But can we think of the climber carrying those trusty predecessor levels up with him, as he ascends?
Then the result would be a love that increases in richness, as the journey progresses, the stew of love holding all the early ingredients in suspension, a new stage being a new pot, new seasoning on its sides, new veggies and sauce, too, giving shape and flavor to the ‘higher’ stage without abandoning the flavor of yesterday’s meal. Love would increase in an additive, cumulative process rather than by rejecting the old for the new. Would this work as a reading of Plato? Any experts out there?
Here’s a line from Bugbee that started me thinking, once again, along these lines:
Philosophic appreciation of beauty [getting high up the ladder] carries us into a transcendent beauty, embracing all that leads us that way, and transmuting the beautiful as a manifold, as in a decisive chord.
[This sentence comes from his essay on the sublime, mentioned in this morning’s post.]