We live hierarchical lives where we respond to roles on levels in order to establish and maintain our human aesthetic. That aesthetic — that moral, cultural and intellectual view of the world — is threatened if we try to change our lives in a way that was never intended. That lack of attention to the self and its precepts leads to a downfall. Historically, our favorite way to perceive the world is in three tiers, and — with a nod to Shakespeare and Dr. Freud’s incredible The Theme of the Three Caskets essay — we will name those tiers from top-to-bottom Gold, Lead and Silver.
The Gold Tier — is above us and it holds the Heavens and The Gods and, for some, God: The Singular.
The Lead Tier — is where we live our lives. We are not perceived to have any value at all but we have more intrinsic worth than each level above and below us but few of us realize that treasure.
The Silver Tier — is the lowest level of danger and disgrace. It is inhabited by devils and fire and tarry pits and smoke and wasps and other underworld degenerates. The idea of Falling — metaphorically, physically and literally — has always been a fascination and a fear for humankind. Falling is never good.
One you Fall you rarely resume your place of higher honor and the most dramatic Falls in human history are those from one tier to another: A God trips over arrogance and Falls from the Golden Heavens; a human being Falls from the common grace of Lead and into the depths of Silver; those who land in Silver stay enshrined there forever. How are we to interpret common phrases like “Fallen Beauty” to describe an older woman who lost her youthful looks? Is there a male equivalent?
Or are only women doomed to Fall into the liquid Silver level of ungraceful ageing as their hair and skin turn glimmering and precious but never Leaden? Even the phrase “He/she fell for her/him” suggests a gender inequity that is forever at war between dominant tiers.
“Fallen Angels” also hedges a level of importance beyond us and when the ethereal and the eternal Fall, they Fall past us to land beneath us. Fallen Angels prey on those with Lead and to be enticed to exchange the shiny for the dull is a temptation too few of us recognize and then deny in the pursuit of rescuing the Fallen.
Bending into Silver only leads to a Fall of our own. Is one able to retain their grace one they Fall away from its innate protections? Isn’t the fear of the loss of grace the very engine that churns to warn those who tempt to leave their level for a higher one? Isn’t the risk of Falling a mandate to recall unrealistic dreams that threaten life and limb and social status? One you Fall, you are The Fallen. You are The Forever Felled.
While it may be possible to dream and even attempt a tier higher than your own, the final result is always one ending in tragedy and death as you lose your original tier for the one far beneath you. To Fall is to Fail. To Fall is to be unsophisticated, soppish and, above all reason, unbeautiful.
The lesson in Falling is if you try to grasp what was never intended to belong to you the consequences of return are a loss of aesthetic and an irrevocable remittance of your human dignity. Enjoy where you are, understand the value of Lead, and appreciate what you have become because to risk Falling is to mock a human curiosity that must never be forged beyond your present eternal tier.