Spinoza and the erotic

For what reason I do not know, I recall K, the graduate student who taught us first year philosophy. She and I were the same age, I having served four years in the Marine Corps before attending college, yet I was in awe of her and the things she knew that I did not. K was an enthusiastic and inspiring teacher, the kind of teacher I strove to gain approval from. And I did, for I ranked highest in her class both semesters she taught me philosophy. Of course, there was the erotic side. I found her lovely. I sat in class and imagined undressing her. I also dreamed that she was my girlfriend. We would share a common set of friends who would recognize us as a passionate and devoted couple.

One summer night, I read Spinoza’s Ethics in the nearly deserted Student Union, not for a course I was taking, but just because I was curious about a book I found very strange and mysterious. As a mathematics major, the book’s definitions, axioms, and propositions lured me into wondering if philosophy could really be written in that form.

K walked into the lounge, saw me, and immediately sat down beside me. My heart jumped. She expressed her admiration of Spinoza and how she loved Ethics. I told her it was hard going for me. She told me not to worry about the mathematical form, but to read it straight through my first time.

After Spinoza, we talked about the woman I was seeing and the philosophy professor with whom she was having a romance. I did not disguise my desire for her well as we talked. Yet I could not bring myself to ask her to come home with me if only for one night even though something in the expression of her eyes made me think she would. So we took our leave of each other with nothing being spoken.

I did not talk to her again for a year as we did on that sultry summer night. It was summer again and we chanced upon each other at small nearly deserted bar. The woman I had been seeing was gone; K’s romance with her philosophy professor was over. This time I did not hesitate to ask her to my place. She declined. Yet she told me the time last summer when we discussed Spinoza she would have gone home with me without thinking about it such was her desire for me that night.

Each time I read a little of Ethics, I recall K, and I feel as though the book itself is slightly erotic.

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Published in: on March 16, 2008 at 10:48 am  Leave a Comment  

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