“The Wise, Too, Shed Tears”

I How close to the world can one be? How far from the world should one be? Those questions represent two mentalities, two doctrines — the aspiration to nearness, the suspicion of nearness; engagement as a form of strength, engagement as a form of weakness; the hunger for reality, the horror of reality; the nobility of belonging, the nobility of alienation. We begin with the world and we end with it, and we spend our mortal interval ascertaining what to do about the relation, and how to get it right. There are some who draw close because they seek pleasure, or because they seek pain; there are some who fear pain, or fear pleasure, and pull away. Charity, and moral action, demands proximity, but proximity also narrows and deceives and corrupts — and immoral action requires it, too. Beauty enchants, and absorbs, and overwhelms, but it is not obvious that

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