What spirit is it in us that we should take pleasure in seeing a man hanged or broken on the rack (or, indeed, given lethal injection)? What are these vicious beasts that we are, that our aesthetic sense is drawn to things of no real beauty? 吾不欲觀之矣。 Harsher is this content than even the harshest, bitterest winter of discontent that we can muster, and the most biting winds of the sharp steppe, for its edge is a cruel grin at once familiar and repulsive.
At the heart of morality and truth lies what is beautiful. Ships are launched from Aulis by the face of Helen; the fields buzz with iron-bearing myriads of locusts while Xi Shi’s beauty has doomed the King of Wu; green envy rises dank in the human soul by the quest for beauty, and knowledge of beauty, and obedience to beauty. And still, if we dismiss the question with de gustibus non est disputandum, we shall have no vision, no light, no God.
We are beggars. This is true. We beg for beauty to burn the bonds that shackle us to our hideous corruption, which has become us both within and without. We look to the east on the third day, on the eighth day. We cannot make our own way to the Tree that rises taller than anything on the earth, which gives juice red and dark like a pomegranate’s, yet only the Tree can make us alive again.
Only its leaves can shade the field named Haqel-dema, in which we sprang out of the earth as warriors spring from sown dragon’s teeth, in which we killed ourselves as we emerged. And then there once was a valley of old, dry bones.