Divided Things, People, a Quotation …

Surely, we have to notice the reason why humans pursue gold and silver, and what they are thinking of in conceiving this unbounded desire. Clearly [they do so] out of the will to attend to their own needs from whatever source, and out of the desire to provide themselves with what contributes to their pleasure. ‘There are many comforts for the rich at least’ as Cephalus claims. If this is right then, the perfection of the heavenly gods, which is self-sufficient and directed towards beauty and the good, has no need of this imported and superficial self-sufficiency, nor does it have need as its focus and as its aim, but being situated far from all wants and from material necessity, and being replete with advantages, it has the leading role of the universe. Indeed it does not have anything to do with the partial and divided good, but has fixed its aim upon the common and undivided good that extends to all, and it is with this that it is particularly associated.

[…]

Why is it then that human enthusiasm for these things is divided? It is because they possess a material life and reach out for what is partial in isolation from the universal. That’s why there is a great deal of ‘mine’ and ‘not mine’ among them, and why a life of unity and sharing has failed them.

Proclus, On the Timaeus of Plato: Book 1, trans. Tarrant, 42.15-43.2 and 43.18-20

I have been haunted by this passage ever since I read it days ago (although Taylor renders it a bit differently, the haunting stands), and devastated, because my mind started to extend this out to

  • thoughts I had had while reading the Parmenides commentary
  • conclusions I came to last summer while watching social interactions online
  • discussions of the many-headed appetites of people and how they create imbalance in people in Proclus’ essays on the Republic
  • passages that yet worm through my brain from some Buddhist Lojong aphorisms that sparked my very vivid imagination to write “Passing Down
  • something from the stories I’m writing that I’m not sure how to communicate, AKA the moment when the person who emerges as the central character chooses the path that leads to the fulfillment of necessity
  • Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, oddly enough?
  • while we’re at it, Aurora’s “The Seed”?
  • politics

It was like a shock of cold water to the face. It’s just amazing how one specific thing said in a very specific context can extend out like that.

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