When I was waiting in Kentucky, reading Dawson, I came across something that has stuck to me ever since. He made the observation that the cosmos of Galileo, Kepler and Newton was Platonic. (Which is one of the most attractive things about Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, and ironic; he understands some of the wonder and magic of the platonic, though Plotinus would chastise him for what mars the work and spoils its ending, the degradation into the fungoid Gnosticism. Another interesting work that endeavors to preserve that luminous mechanical-mystical cosmology incarnate in the world of objects is The Alternation, by Kingsley Amis, from what I remember. Both books are interesting for that, to me.)
Plato is behind much that is interesting. If there be any magic or wonder of the highest order, there is Plato, so serious, advocating immediate contact, contemplator, sentiment anterior to reason, Reason . . . Reason, circles, numerical mysteries, the contemplation of the gods and the contemplation of God. A mystery of health always begins to grow in the appropriation of Plato, like an oak, which is why he was and is and always will remain the Christian’s philosopher.
I admit, I’m more interested in them as Yeats was, as symbols. They make great symbols don’t they? Build up Plato and then suggest remoter, more ancient and primeval, most connected and better is the figure of Pythagoras: a shadow in the distance coming closer. And Plotinus standing for all who consecrate themselves to the greatest and highest, ascetic, body-scorning, devoted.
I wanted to get into Plotinus, that man who was serious about Plato, that symbol of platonic seriousness which is serious about contemplation, given over to the unending rigorous pursuit of immediate contact. I understand also he was the synthesizer in his time of Plato and Aristotle. Perhaps he yoked Aristotle to the chariot Plato drives. I’d like to understand that. Perhaps I still can. I want to understand the great Plotinus better, though who knows what I will find. After him, only steps down: Porphyry, Iamblicus, and the activities of Julian and Justinian. But also Ambrose and Augustine, dear neo-platonic Augustine who viewed the invisible city.
Nicolas of Cusa is the only one left to me on the list of endnotes from Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy (a list of some of the sons and daughters of Plato through the ages, is it not?) whom I have not read too much. He’s right in the period I’m heading into–Latin, Platonic. I might be a Nicolas of Cusa guy, since the cardinal is one my brother sons of Plato.
Wouldn’t it be cool to write a dissertation on the Platonic fraternity? The Platonic Paternity, perhaps: the living mystical core of the holy catholic church. Renaissance and Reformation Platonism . . . Henry Vaughan.