In his book Return to Order, John Horvat II argues that what motivates human beings is a desire for the sublime.
“The sublime consists of those things of transcendent excellence that cause souls to be overawed by their magnificence,” he explains. We don’t merely appreciate the beauty of the sublime, he says, but also “read” a spiritual meaning in it.
This brought to mind my tour of the Rococo architectural masterpieces of Europe during my atheist/New Age phase, which was motivated precisely by a desire for the sublime. Indeed, Mr. Horvat cites the building of the cathedrals of Europe as an example of a civilization being moved to express, in the form of architecture, the magnificent spiritual order it perceived to exist.
A civilization can collectively pursue the sublime, Mr. Horvat explains, when it is united under a single dream, or a myth* that explains the origins and destiny of a people and gives them a goal towards which they can direct their labors.
And that made me think of my recent musings on the Kojiki.
I realized: Japan still has a dream. Vestigial though it may be, the Japanese are still culturally united in their purpose to serve the Emperor.
At least, I feel such a thing in Japan that I don’t feel in America. Mr. Horvat describes it as the “metaphysical joy of being linked with an order of being that completes our own.”
So am I suggesting that the world should unite in the service of the Emperor of Japan after all? No, of course not. The Japanese themselves would be the first to point out that the West has its own dream, and that when we were true to that dream, it outshone anything else the world had ever seen.
It’s time to get back to our dream.
*Used in the broad sense of the term