You have the chance to see the most beautiful creation in creation. Do you take it even knowing ...

that you’re as likely to be forever haunted by the memory of their beauty as forever heartened by it?

Like these old threads, today’s absurd hypothetical* is set in Pangaea, the alternate Earth ruled (with a very light hand) by Pallas Athena and peopled by elves, kappa, werewolves, and other mythical species.** Again you’re on a quest there, though this time no Pangaean is responsible for your woes; it’s an human sorcerer that’s stirring up shit this time.

But nobody cares about that crap. The point is that you’ve gone to Pallas’s representative in the mortal Plane, the Prophet, for help saving the human world from, I don’t know a new ice age or whatnot. The Prophet’s busy with her own shit right now so she can’t help you personally, but she does give you a magic Gatling gun, a sonic screwdriver, and some enchanted kevlar, along with eight stalwart companions to assist you in getting the MacGuffins necessary to turn the solar thermostat all the way back up. Before sending you and your Company off, the Prophet gives you a bit of counsel.

"The last item you need to return your world’s sun to full power is only to be found in the Palace of Aphrodite, inhabited by, obviously, Aphrodite. Hence the name. Oh, and her son Eros is always there too, on account of them both being put on time out by great Pallas for getting o her damn nerves one too many times. Now you need not fear that either will interfere with your quest; they’re naughty, not nefarious. But yet there is a danger. You see, these two godlings are the most beautiful creatures in creation. in the past thousand years or so, about two dozen mortals (including several previous Prophets) have had occasion to see either or both of them face to face. Half of those have reported that the sight of their beauty was so wonderful that, for the rest of their lives, the memory of it was enough to cure any melancholy, to encourage them in the direst danger and to enlighten them in the darkest hour; these were obviously grateful to have had the chance. But the others reported that, after seeing Aphrodite and/or Eros, all other beauty was spoiled for them. No mortal beauty could ever satisfy them; their wives and husbands, their lovers and friends, even their children seemed as ugly as trolls in comparison. They wished they had never gazed about the divine beauty.

Now I myself have never seen either Aphrodite or Eros. I got my own shit going on, plus I’m chicken. My point is that if should be possible to accomplish your quest without looking directly at either one of them, and you may want to consider doing that. Or not. I am not the boss of you."

Anyway, you and yours have arrived at Aphrodite’s Palace and are moments away from deciding whether to go gaze directly at the two godlings. Do you risk it? Why or why not?

Poll in a moment. No desserts today, though.

*Stolen from an old comic book starring Green Lantern and Green Arrow. Or maybe Thor and Iron Man. Possibly Spider-Man and Daredevil. I don’t know, it was 30 years ago and I don’t remember. Shut up.
**But no hobbits. Filthy unpickleable bastards. They should all be fed to deinonychuses.

I’m the kind of person who looks back on wonderful memories more fondly than longingly, so I’ll happily gaze upon their beauty. May I take a photo?

I’m going to look, if for no other reason than to prove to my wife that she is the most gorgeous being in creation. Aphrodite will place instead of win this time. Paris is a city, not my name.

Not going to look. I got shit to do. Places to go. Worlds to save. Who’s got time to flirt to the wrong sorts of folks. Nope, nuh-uh, no way.

I did NOT know you were kidding about the dessert. Phew.

I am NOT going to pass up the chance to see the beautiful woman in existence. Eros probably wouldn’t do much for me. By Tyr’s hand, I doubt I would notice him, my eyes would be glued to Aphrodite. While I may haunted by seeing her, I KNOW I would be haunted by regret if I missed that chance. Especially if she’s naked!

I’ve checked the logs, and it simply doesn’t matter whether Aphrodite’s skyclad or not. She’s just that beautiful. Likewise Eros.

But as a straight dude I’d definitely avoid seeing Eros. You just don’t know what’s gonna happen.

Aside from the obvious typo in the OP* I’d look. I can’t see how avoiding a pleasant experience on the chance of an ugly outcome is worth it. We’re going to see enough trolls on a daily basis as is.

*I’ve never been to Pangaea so she’s clearly the 2nd most beautiful creation ever.

I don’t think it works that way. And even if it does, hey, he’s beautiful.

Sure. Why not? I live now, haunted by the beauty of Yosemite Valley, and Vivaldi’s Concerto for Diverse Instruments.

I’m with Small Hen here: the memory of a beautiful thing is, itself, a beautiful thing.

I’m gazing, and let them be haunted by the dreams I’m going to have about them for years to come.

I’m secure enough in my sexuality to not be worried. I figure the worst case scenario is he gets jealous of my magnificent beard, then goes into a rage and tries to shave me. If that happens… I’ve killed godlings before.

I have seen both Keira Knightley and Brad Pitt, so I think I’m ready. I’ll take a look.

I vote no.

Fifty percent chance that seeing this sight will cure what ails me a *fraction *of the rest of my life (the sad, hard moments).

But there’s a fifty percent chance that I’ll spend the rest of my life completely miserable, unable to see beauty in anything else and in a perpetual state of longing? Basically ruining *all *experiences for the rest of my life?


The logic is kind of baffling.

Would you want to hear a marvelous work of music, knowing that you’ll miss it and all other music would seem lousy in comparison?

Would you want to eat delicious food, knowing that all other food will seem lousy in comparison?

I’m sure you meant to type Natalie Portman and Taye Diggs here.

I’ve seen myself in the mirror and can still appreciate other beauty. I think I’ll risk it.

Well, no. Obviously not.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, they say. And my poor, tired wife, sleeping and snoring on the sofa behind me IS the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met.

Get someone else to do your dirty work, I pass.

The quest story was just to set up a reason for the hypothetical you to go to the godlings’ palace, but I’m still not sure whom that last sentence was aimed at. “You” asked the Prophet’s help, not the other way around.

I’m looking. Physical beauty is not that important to me in a relationship; if anything, I feel a little uncomfortable around women who seem too beautiful. So even if I were to see everyone else as troll-like for the rest of my life, it wouldn’t affect me very much. In the meantime, I’ll have a unique experience of beauty that few others can claim.

I’m looking. I’m lucky enough to have had a lot of peak experiences and been in a lot of beautiful places and seen some really beautiful people…

and I can’t quite remember most of them.

I know I was over the moon euphoric, but I can’t quite remember exactly the feeling of holding each of my babies for the first time…

I can’t even quite remember that doctor who took care of me that time I was taken to the emergency room, who felt my lymph nodes and put his stethoscope on my bare chest, who had the deep brown eyes and the tousled black hair and the perfect olive skin who is surely suffering now from whatever ill effects there are from a lifetime of having sex offered to you constantly…

I have accepted that I must take what wonder and beauty is offered to me in the moment and not grasp to hold on to it for later because I won’t really remember it later. Later I’ll just remember I really really liked it.

So I’m looking!