He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God.

from F. Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby (Chapter VI) on Rap Genius

Meaning

The Distant Ideal

Although (in this memory of his former self), Gatsby desperately desires to kiss Daisy, he understands that as soon as he’s committed the act, he will lose the idealistic perception of her floating within his imagination. Indeed, only from a distance can Gatsby (and others) truly believe in the loftiest ideas. As soon as he approaches the concrete limitations of reality, he can no longer invent reality within his “mind,” shaping and crafting it to his own magnificent specifications. Instead, reality begins to shape and craft his mind. No longer can he “romp,” roaming freely with the same creative powers of a “God.”

With proximity fades perfection. When Gatsby binds his “unutterable visions,” unspoken and imaginary, to the physical reality of Daisy with her “perishable breath,” he metaphorically kills those visions, degrading them to the level of reality.

Even in his memory, Gatsby has lost the ideal that Daisy represents. Nonetheless, after not seeing her for several years, he persists with his fascination, which their separation conjures and intensifies.

From a distance, Daisy can reach flawless perfection, an unattainable ideal.

Close up, however beautiful and charming, Daisy falls within the confines of reality.

Gatsby is about to put his (American) dreams into the acquisition of Daisy. His links his attainment of his dreams to the attainment of Daisy.

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