The Lovesick Platonist

In the experience of heartbreak, one often senses a profound disconnection with the world. In lovesickness, one cannot eat, drink, sleep, work or relate with friends. The bonds that connected him with so many things in the world seem to be put asunder with the loss of connection with the object of one’s love.
While this may be associated with emotional trauma, Fr. Robert Barron’s recent video on Woody Allen may have inadvertently provided another, more profound philosophical underpinning to the experience of disconnection as a result of being lovesick.
In Barron’s video, reference was made to Plato’s Symposium and a female philosopher named Diotima of Mantinea. In the Symposium, Diotima alerts Socrates to the connective tissue that beholding a beautiful creature generates vis a vis all creatures in the cosmos. When one sees a beautiful thing or person, profound connections are made not just with that beautiful person, but also to the beauty that is present in every other thing or person, and ultimately with the form of Beauty itself. In other words, the vision of beauty in one thing generates a connection with others.
Conversely, however, when a relationship with a person is broken, when the connection with one particular focal point of beauty is cut, not only is the connection with that beautiful thing put asunder. The connections with everything in the cosmos are cut as well. And so, what Diotima says is happening on a metaphysical plane should unsurprisingly have an experiential echo in the realm of things. Our experience of disconnectedness in the face of heartbreak, when read in a Platonic register, can be one of the most profound experiences precisely because it is an experience with metaphysical, and not just emotional, implications.

 

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