Tummi: “What’s it like to be in love?”
Grammi: “Being in love is wonderful, Tummi! Your heart throbs. Your toes tingle. You get butterflies in your stomach. Sometimes you can’t even eat!”
Tummi: “Ugh, that sounds horrible…”
In this exchange we see some real gummi wisdom. For as C. S. Lewis wrote* in his essay “Transposition”:
“During a moment of intense aesthetic rapture, one tries to turn round and catch by introspection what one is actually feeling, one can never lay one’s hand on anything but a physical sensation… If I were to judge simply by sensations, I should come to the absurd conclusion that joy and anguish are the same thing, that what I most dread is the same with what I most desire.”
The thesis Lewis develops is that our emotional life is more complex and variegated than our literal sensations. In order to be expressed physically, the same sensations may express different emotions–just as simplifying linguistic expression to the point of using the same word for multiple words may be required when translating a work from a language with a broader vocabulary. (I routinely struggle with this kind of “translation” when attempting to converse with management.)
Likewise, just as our emotions are higher and more complex than our sensations, so our spiritual life is richer than either still. Those who have not been awakened to this sensibility may confuse spiritual experience with “simply” emotional states, but that would be a mistake.
In fact, it would be precisely the kind of mistake that Tummi in his own ignorance makes here…