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Section 32

32. Where, then? where exists the author of this beauty and life, the begetter of the veritable?

You see the splendour over the things of the universe with all the variety begotten of the Ideas; well might we linger here: but amid all these things of beauty we cannot but ask whence they come and whence the beauty. This source can be none of the beautiful objects; were it so, it too would be a thing of parts. It can be no shape, no power, nor the total of powers and shapes that have had the becoming that has set them here; it must stand above all the powers, all the patterns. The origin of all this must be the formless- formless not as lacking shape but as the very source of even shape Intellectual.

In the realm of process anything coming to be must come to be something; to every thing its distinctive shape: but what shape can that have which no one has shaped? It can be none of existing things; yet it is all: none, in that beings are later; all, as the wellspring from which they flow. That which can make all can have, itself, no extension; it must be limitless and so without magnitude; magnitude itself is of the Later and cannot be an element in that which is to bring it into being. The greatness of the Authentic cannot be a greatness of quantity; all extension must belong to the subsequent: the Supreme is great in the sense only that there can be nothing mightier, nothing to equal it, nothing with anything in common with it: how then could anything be equal to any part of its content? Its eternity and universal reach entail neither measure nor measurelessness; given either, how could it be the measure of things? So with shape: granted beauty, the absence of shape or form to be grasped is but enhancement of desire and love; the love will be limitless as the object is, an infinite love.

Its beauty, too, will be unique, a beauty above beauty: it cannot be beauty since it is not a thing among things. It is lovable and the author of beauty; as the power to all beautiful shape, it will be the ultimate of beauty, that which brings all loveliness to be; it begets beauty and makes it yet more beautiful by the excess of beauty streaming from itself, the source and height of beauty. As the source of beauty it makes beautiful whatsoever springs from it. And this conferred beauty is not itself in shape; the thing that comes to be is without shape, though in another sense shaped; what is denoted by shape is, in itself, an attribute of something else, shapeless at first. Not the beauty but its participant takes the shape.

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