Sir Thomas Browne on the Divine Heartbreak of Romantic Friendship

Sir Thomas Browne by Jane Carlile

“United souls are not satisfied with embraces, but desire to be truly each other.”

Navigating the various types of platonic relationshipscan be challenging enough. But few things are more existentially disorienting than trying to moor oneself within a relationship that floats back and forth across the porous boundary between the platonic and the erotic — one rooted in a deep friendship but magnetized with undeniable romantic intensity, like the relationships between Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann in the nineteenth century and Rachel Carson and Dorothy Freeman in the twentieth.

But as beautiful and vitalizing as such more-than-friendships can be, they tend to be inevitably dampened by an undercurrent of disappointment, a quiet undulating heartache that comes from the disconnect between the enormity one or both persons long for and the lesser-than reality permitted by the other person’s nature or the circumstances of one or both of their lives.

Four centuries ago, the English polymath Sir Thomas Browne (October 19, 1605–October 19, 1682) captured the divine heartbreak of romantic friendship with enduring insight in a passage from his first literary work, Religio Medici (The Religion of a Physician) (public library), penned the year of his thirtieth birthday.

Browne, whose enchanting and lyrical writing inspired many of the Romantics, celebrates romantic friendship as a love that, in transcending regular friendship, approaches the divine:

I hope I do not break the fifth commandment, if I conceive I may love my friend before the nearest of my blood, even those to whom I owe the principles of life. I never yet cast a true affection on a woman; but I have loved my friend as I do virtue, my soul, my God. From hence, methinks, I do conceive how God loves man.

He then presents a taxonomy of the “three most mystical unions”:

1. two natures in one person; 2. three persons in one nature; 3. one soul in two bodies. For though indeed they be really divided, yet are they so united, as they seem but one, and make rather a duality in two distinct souls.

There are wonders in true affection; it is a body of enigmas, mysteries, and riddles, wherein two so become one, as they both become two.

But Browne’s most poignant insight deals with the paradoxical nature of such intense connections. When we seek for another to be our everything, he suggests, we doom ourselves to continual despair and disappointment, because the most anyone can ever give us is still less-than-everything, which to the heart that longs for everything — for a complete merging of natures — feels like a sorrowing incompleteness next to nothing. He writes:

I love my friend before myself, and yet methinks I do not love him enough: some few months hence my multiplied affection will make me believe I have not loved him at all. When I am [apart] from him, I am dead till I be with him; when I am with him, I am not satisfied but would still be nearer him. United souls are not satisfied with embraces, but desire to be truly each other; which being impossible, their desires are infinite, and must proceed without a possibility of satisfaction.

And yet the redemption of this perennial dissatisfaction, Browne argues, is that by so intensely throwing ourselves into a love that can never be fully requited, we master the difficult art of unselfish love — a love we can then direct at anyone, free of expectation of return, perhaps more akin to the Ancient Greek notion of agape, which inspired Dr. King’s “experiment in love.” Browne puts it simply:

He that can love his friend with this noble ardor will, in a competent degree, affect all.


The sea was never blue

Resultado de imagem para The Aegean Sea. Photo by Krista Rossow/National Geographic

The Aegean Sea. Photo by Krista Rossow/National Geographic

The Greek colour experience was made of movement and shimmer. Can we ever glimpse what they saw when gazing out to sea?

Maria Michela Sassi is a professor of history and ancient philosophy at the University of Pisa in Italy.

Homer used two adjectives to describe aspects of the colour blue: kuaneos, to denote a dark shade of blue merging into black; and glaukos, to describe a sort of ‘blue-grey’, notably used in Athena’s epithet glaukopis, her ‘grey-gleaming eyes’. He describes the sky as big, starry, or of iron or bronze (because of its solid fixity). The tints of a rough sea range from ‘whitish’ (polios) and ‘blue-grey’ (glaukos) to deep blue and almost black (kuaneosmelas). The sea in its calm expanse is said to be ‘pansy-like’ (ioeides), ‘wine-like’ (oinops), or purple (porphureos). But whether sea or sky, it is never just ‘blue’. In fact, within the entirety of Ancient Greek literature you cannot find a single pure blue sea or sky.

Yellow, too, seems strangely absent from the Greek lexicon. The simple word xanthoscovers the most various shades of yellow, from the shining blond hair of the gods, to amber, to the reddish blaze of fire. Chloros, since it’s related to chloe (grass), suggests the colour green but can also itself convey a vivid yellow, like honey.

The ancient Greek experience of colour does not seem to match our own. In a well-known aphorism, Friedrich Nietzsche captures the strangeness of the Greek colour vocabulary:

How differently the Greeks must have viewed their natural world, since their eyes were blind to blue and green, and they would see instead of the former a deeper brown, and yellow instead of the latter (and for instance they also would use the same word for the colour of dark hair, that of the corn-flower, and that of the southern sea; and again, they would employ exactly the same word for the colour of the greenest plants and of the human skin, of honey and of the yellow resins: so that their greatest painters reproduced the world they lived in only in black, white, red, and yellow).
[My translation]

How is this possible? Did the Greeks really see the colours of the world differently from the way we do?

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, too, observed these features of Greek chromatic vision. The versatility of xanthos and chloros led him to infer a peculiar fluidity of Greek colour vocabulary. The Greeks, he said, were not interested in defining the different hues. Goethe underpinned his judgment through a careful examination of the theories on vision and colours elaborated by the Greek philosophers, such as Empedocles, Plato and Aristotle, who attributed an active role to the visual organ, equipped with light coming out of the eye and interacting with daylight so as to generate the complete range of colours.

Goethe also noted that ancient colour theorists tended to derive colours from a mixture of black and white, which are placed on the two opposite poles of light and dark, and yet are still called ‘colours’. The ancient conception of black and white as colours – often primary colours – is remarkable when compared with Isaac Newton’s experiments on the decomposition of light by refraction through a prism. The common view today is that white light is colourless and arises from the sum of all the hues of the spectrum, whereas black is its absence.

Goethe considered the Newtonian theory to be a mathematical abstraction in contrast with the testimony of the eyes, and thus downright absurd. In fact, he claimed that light is the most simple and homogeneous substance, and the variety of colours arise at the edges where dark and light meet. Goethe set the Greeks’ approach to colour against Newton’s for their having caught the subjective side of colour perception. The Greeks already knew, Goethe wrote, that: ‘If the eye were not Sun-like, it could never see the Sun.’…




by Buck RogersStaff Writer Waking Times

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” ~Carl Sagan, Star Stuff

Have you ever felt as though some part of you was not from our galaxy, that somehow you had a physical connection with the cosmos?

A dramatic new study into the origins of galaxies simulated the process by which galaxies are formed and when stars within them explode. The finding offer strong evidence that nearly half of the atoms found in the Milky Way are made from residual particles ejected when far away galaxies go supernova and explode. This includes half of the atoms that make up the human body.

Carried by intergalactic winds after a galaxy’s death, many of these ejected particles travel to our solar system from neighboring galaxies, eventually congregating to amass concentrations of the building blocks of atoms. The bulk of the helium and hydrogen that makes it to a new galaxy forms new stars, while other more dense elements combine to create objects like asteroids, comets, planets and life forms.

Powerful supernova explosions can fling trillions of tonnes of atoms into space with such ferocity that they escape their home galaxy’s gravitational pull and fall towards larger neighbours in enormous clouds that travel at hundreds of kilometres per second. [Source]

The following computer simulation demonstrates our new understanding of the formation process of galaxies:

These ejected elements are believed to be able to travel nearly a million light years away from their origin before finally settling in new galaxies, as noted by a report in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

“The surprising thing is that galactic winds contribute significantly more material than we thought “In terms of research in galaxy evolution, we’re very excited about these results. It’s a new mode of galaxy growth we’ve not considered before.” ~Daniel Anglés-Alcázar,, an astronomer at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Using dramatic 3D models of how galaxies are born and then die, showing how a significant portion of the material which comprises new galaxies is gathered from left over material that has arrived from other galaxies. In our previous understanding of how the Milky Way was formed, scientists had believed that most of the matter here was contributed by the Big Bang.

The Big Bang theory has been popular among astronomers and physicists since the revelations of Albert Einstein, but in recent years has been under intense scrutiny with some claiming that it may be completely wrong. With this new simulation, the Big Bang theory moves closer to extinction.

“Our origins are much less local than we thought, This study gives us a sense of how things around us are connected to distant objects in the sky.” ~Claude-André Faucher-Giguère

Another recent experiment offers the theory that the universe itself may actually be a conscious organism, and that all matter within it is permeated with a consciousness of its own. Combined with the recent discoveries about the origins of star-dust, we may be on the brink of a major breakthrough in understanding our place in the cosmos.

The following video is a simulation of gas flows of a Milky Way type galaxy:


About the Author
Buck Rogers is the earth-bound incarnation of that familiar part of our timeless cosmic selves, the rebel within. He is a surfer of ideals and meditates often on the promise of happiness in a world battered by the angry seas of human thoughtlessness. He is a staff writer for
This article (Science Confirms that Nearly Half of the Human Body is Made of Stardust) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Buck Rogers and It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.


Inside one of America’s most feared street gangs: Guns, drugs and violence are part of everyday life for the Bloodline gangsters

'Murder' holds a gun that he bought for 250 USD in the street. He bought it after guys from another gang stabbed one of his friends in the neck

  • Picture series details life inside the notorious Bloodline gang, which is part of the Latin Kings organisations
  • Members are seen brandishing drugs and guns in the chilling photos
  • The group was founded in the 1950s and evolved into a huge criminal enterprise
  • The series also reveals the unity and respect that members show each other 

A photographer has documented the lives of one of the biggest and most feared gangs in the US, giving chilling insight into their violent world.

The images show gang members holding guns and drugs, as well as mourning friends killed in the cycle of crime they have become engulfed in.

The Bloodline gang, which has an estimated 35,000 active members, dates back to the 1950s and was originally set up as an organisation aimed at tackling racial discrimination against Hispanic people.

But it has evolved into a huge criminal enterprise New York, and is a faction of the notorious Latin Kings gang.

The anonymous photographer was given unique access to the group, following the daily routines of members who go by aliases including ‘Murder’, ‘Flash’ and ‘Smokey’.

s well as highlighting the gritty realities of life for gang members, it also draws attention to the happiness, unity and respect they show each other.

The series explores the intimacy and naivety of teenagers who have been pushed by their economic status, racial or social issues to survive in a hostile environment in one of the most developed cities in the world.

The Trump administration recently vowed to crack down on violent gang members and criminals from American Communities.

Recent nationwide gang apprehension programs such as Project Dawn, focusing on dismantling transnational gangs have seen hundreds arrested in New York alone.

Gang members 'King Looney', 'King 'Chucho', 'King Smokey' and 'King Buckets' rest in their apartments after a long day at a meeting with other gang members, smoking marijuana and drinking beer

 Gang members ‘King Looney’, ‘King ‘Chucho’, ‘King Smokey’ and ‘King Buckets’ rest in their apartments after a long day at a meeting with other gang members, smoking marijuana and drinking beer

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Europe’s Future Has the Face of ‘Young Muslim Immigrants’

“If you want to see the face of Europe in 100 years, barring a miracle, look to the faces of young Muslim immigrants,” Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput told a group of Catholics Thursday.

Speaking at an annual conference of the Napa Institute in California, Chaput tied the future of civilization to a willingness to have children—an area where Muslims lead every other group.

“Islam has a future because Islam believes in children,” Chaput said. “Without a transcendent faith that makes life worth living, there’s no reason to bear children. And where there are no children, there’s no imagination, no reason to sacrifice, and no future.”

“Christian” Europe, on the other hand, languishes under a loss of hope in the future, illustrated by a birthrate well below replacement levels, which is offset only by its uncontrolled mass immigration.

“At least six of Europe’s most senior national leaders have no children at all,” the Archbishop noted.  “Their world ends with them. It’s hard to avoid a sense that much of Europe is already dead or dying without knowing it.”

French President Emmanuel Macron, along with the leaders of Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands, have zero children among them, a feat perhaps never matched in European history. This startling fact has led some to speculate that as a group these leaders have less of a stake in the future of their nations because they have no children of their own.

President Macron got into hot water recently when he chided African nations for having too many children, bringing an avalanche of accusations of racism crashing down upon his head.

As European nations wallow in negative population growth, the French President blamed big families for Africa’s poverty and underdevelopment. Asked about the development of Africa at the G20 meeting in Hamburg, Macron pointed to the “seven to eight children” African women are having as a “civilizational” problem demanding a solution.

“When countries are still having seven or eight children per woman, you can spend billions of euros on them but you won’t stabilize anything,” Macron quipped.

In his address Thursday, Archbishop Chaput seemed to suggest that Macron may have his priorities exactly backwards. Children are far more important than possessions, he said, and the future of the world is with them.

“When young people ask me how to change the world, I tell them to love each other, get married, stay faithful to one another, have lots of children, and raise those children to be men and women of Christian character,” he said.

“Money is important, but it’s never the most important thing,” he said. “The future belongs to people with children, not with things. Things rust and break. But every child is a universe of possibility that reaches into eternity, connecting our memories and our hopes in a sign of God’s love across the generations.”

“That’s what matters,” Chaput said. “The soul of a child is forever.”