I spent the day visiting Smith College. They have one of my father’s paintings in their collection, so I was curious, as I was there anyway, to see if the museum had it on display. They did not. But it is a lovely museum all the same.
I was transfixed by the ancient Greek and Roman works, perhaps because of my ongoing Herodotus reading. I was just about to declare the black figure on red the most sublime pottery ever created when I came across a wine goblet of epic proportions that was red figure. Kylix c. 520 B.C.E.
It was stupendous- that’s beautiful, I thought to myself when I saw it, as a wine cup cum bowl it was illustrated on the back in celebration of Bacchus. On the front, along with a discus thrower, there were letters that spelled kalos, (apparently backwards) meaning- “beautiful.” Just so. Seriously – they knew what they were doing.
Then I came across the early imperial Roman figure, Winged Torso of Eros from the first century C.E.
No arms, no head, no penis, no wings, and yet…and yet. The brutalized Eros is as beautiful as ever.
You hurt me. I was thinking about that sentence on my way home, and it occurred to me that it lacks a tense. If I said you love me it would be clear. If I said you loved me, equally- we understand the implication. But there is no distinction with the word hurt.
With love, one can create a ray or line segment to suggest duration, inception or completion. But with hurt, there is none. It is a line, pure and simple, no beginning and no end- you hurt me. It is the atmosphere, the air one breathes.
Eros: still beautiful, but wounded. A hurt that simple informs and stains everything else. Eros absorbs the blow- he tries. He tries.