bouquet-#4-500w.jpg

Untitled (Say it with Flowers), 2012

Bouquet wrapping paper, maple frame

32-3/4 x 28-1/4 x 1-3/8 inches

On Bouquets

‘“Try as hard as you can to pay attention now,” she said, “because anyone who has been guided and trained in the ways of love up to this point, who has viewed things of beauty in the proper order and manner, will now approach the culmination of love's ways and will suddenly catch sight of something of unbelievable beauty—something, which in fact gives meaning to all his previous efforts. What he'll see is, in the first place, eternal; it doesn't come to be or cease to be, and it doesn't increase or diminish. In the second place, it isn't attractive in one respect and repulsive in another, or attractive at one time but not at another. Then again, he won't perceive beauty as a face or hands or any other physical feature, or as a piece of reasoning or knowledge, and he won't perceive it as being anywhere else either—in something like a creature or the earth or the heavens. No, he'll perceive it in itself and by itself, constant and eternal, and he'll see that every other beautiful object somehow partakes of it, but in such a way that their coming to be and ceasing to be don't increase or diminish it at all, and it remains entirely unaffected.

‘“So the right kind of love can help you ascend from the things of this world until you begin to catch sight of that beauty. The proper way to go about or be guided through the ways of love is to start with beautiful things in this world and always make the beauty I've been talking about the reason for your ascent. You should use the things of this world as rungs in a ladder. You start by loving one attractive body and step up to two; from there you move on to physical beauty in general, from there to the beauty of intellectual endeavors, and from there you ascend to that final intellectual endeavor, which is no more and no less than the study of that beauty, so that you finally recognize true beauty.

‘“What else could make life worth living, my dear Socrates,” the woman from Mantinea said, “than seeing true beauty? How do you think someone would react to the sight of beauty itself, in its perfect, immaculate purity—not beauty tainted by human flesh and coloring and all that mortal rubbish, but absolute beauty, divine and constant? Do you think someone with his gaze fixed there has a miserable life? Is that what you think about someone who uses the appropriate faculty to see beauty and enjoy its presence? Don't you appreciate that there's no other medium in which someone who uses the appropriate faculty to see beauty can give birth to true goodness instead of phantom goodness, because it is truth rather than illusion whose company he is in? And don't you realize that the gods smile on a person who bears and nurtures true goodness and that, to the extent that any human being does, it is he who has the potential for immortality?”

‘As a believer, I try to win others as well round to the view that, in the business of acquiring immortality, it would be hard for human nature to find a better partner than Love. That's the basis of my claim that everyone should treat Love with reverence, and that's why I for one consider the ways of love to be very important. So I follow them exceptionally carefully myself and recommend others to do the same. It's also why, today and every day, I do all I can to praise Love's power and courage.

‘That's my contribution, then. You can think of it as a eulogy of Love if you want, or you can call it whatever you like. It's up to you.’”

— Plato, The Symposium

(As translated by Robin Waterfield)