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Section 1

1. It is suggested that multiplicity is a falling away from The Unity, infinity being the complete departure, an innumerable multiplicity, and that this is why unlimit is an evil and we evil at the stage of multiplicity.

A thing, in fact, becomes a manifold when, unable to remain self-centred, it flows outward and by that dissipation takes extension: utterly losing unity it becomes a manifold since there is nothing to bind part to part; when, with all this outflowing, it becomes something definite, there is a magnitude.

But what is there so grievous in magnitude?

Given consciousness, there will be, since the thing must feel its exile, its sundrance from its essence. Everything seeks not the alien but itself; in that outward moving there is frustration or compulsion; a thing most exists not when it takes multiplicity or extension but when it holds to its own being, that is when its movement is inward. Desire towards extension is ignorance of the authentically great, a movement not on the appropriate path but towards the strange; to the possession of the self the way is inward.

Consider the thing that has taken extension; broken into so many independent items, it is now those several parts and not the thing it was; if that original is to persist, the members must stand collected to their total; in other words, a thing is itself not by being extended but by remaining, in its degree, a unity: through expansion and in the measure of the expansion, it is less itself; retaining unity, it retains its essential being.

Yet the universe has at once extension and beauty?

Yes; because it has not been allowed to slip away into the limitless but is held fast by unity; and it has beauty in virtue of Beauty not of Magnitude; it needed Beauty to parry that magnitude; in the degree of its extension it was void of beauty and to that degree ugly. Thus extension serves as Matter to Beauty since what calls for its ordering is a multiplicity. The greater the expansion, the greater the disorder and ugliness.

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