“What you love in a person, Domna,” [Cathy] explained to her, “is his essence, not the dross of appearance. Love is the discovery of essence.” Domna looked up from her bread-pudding. “I think you are too dualistic,” she said, brusquely. “Even in Plato, essence is perceived through existence. There is no gross contradiction, no belying. Shadow is a partial aspect of substance. Appearances intimate to us; they do not flatly deceive.” She put down her spoon. Henry affably nodded. “You’re a handsome girl, Domna,” he reminded. “All handsome people are monists. For the rest of us, there is always the temptation to gnosticism. What we are is not what we see in the mirror, and we know therefore that appearances are fickle. We look to someone else to discover our imperishable essence.”

Mary McCarthy, The Groves of Academe, in Novels and Stories 1942–1963, edited by Thomas Mallon