Giffiths speaks of the “complex admixture of regret and lament for unworthiness . . . and delight in lovability” that marks human love, and adds: “The presence of the one without the other makes it impossible to receive the offer of love and therefore impossible to be a beloved. Were you to respond to the gift of love with an unruffled sense of your own beauty and worthiness to be given that give, you would not be a beloved – one who can return love – but rather a demigod receiving homage. And were you to respond to the lover’s gift to you of your new condition as a beloved with nothing but a sense of your own unworthiness and ugliness and filthiness, then too, you could not be a beloved but only a mirrored wall of self-hatred from which all offered love would be reflected directly back to its offerer.”

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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