Sunday, April 02, 2006

on love by Alain de Botton

de Botton numbers each paragraph in each chapter starting with one. I've included them to give a sense of the author's rhetorical device in bringing order to an incredibly disorderly subject.
29. There is usually a Marxist moment in most relationships [the moment that it becomes clear that love is reciprocated] and the way it is resolved depends on the balance between self-love and self-hatred. If self-hatred gains the upper hand, then the one who has received love will declare that the beloved [on some excuse or other] is not good enough for them [not good enough by virtue of association with no-goods]. But if self-love gains the upper hand, both partners may accept that seeing their love reciprocated is not proof of how low the beloved is, but of how lovable they themselves have turned out to be.
Ever decided that you're not good enough for the person with whom you're 'in love' and what they really deserve is a short sassy blonde?
3. ...Because the "I" is not an integrated structure, its fluidity requires the contours provided by others. I need another to help me carry my history, one who knows me as well, sometimes better, than I know myself.
This is absolutely the clearest and most rational explanation of why love is indeed a desirable experience, especially if the thinking person's 'know thyself' is more realizable through the knowledge of oneself by another.
11. ...It is an active mirror that must 'find' the image of the other, it is a searching, roving mirror, one that seeks to capture the dimensions of a moving shape, the incredible complexity of another's character. It is a hand mirror, and the hand that holds it is not a steady one, for it has its own interests and concerns--is the image one wishes to find really the one that exists?
Totally my experience the last time I succumbed to a deluded sense of having "fallen" into "love" with what turned out to be a disappointing reflection of what I thought I wanted and that turned out to be exactly what I've been avoiding my entire life (read psychoanalytical theory-projection.)
13. Everyone returns us to a different sense of ourselves, for we become a little of who they think we are.
(read psychoanalytical theory-introjection)I.e., be careful who you invest your time in or you may end up getting a negative return on your investment.
16. ...Overcoming childhood could be understood as an attempt to correct the false narrations of others, of our story-telling parents. But the struggle against narration continues beyond childhood: A propaganda war surrounds the decision of who we are, a number of interest groups struggling to assert their view of reality, to have their story told.
10. The unknown carries with it a mirror of all our deepest, most inexpressible wishes.
Somewhere in the Electra/Oedipal complex neighborhood perhaps?
23. ...What is identity? Perhaps it is shaped around what a person is disposed toward: 'I am what I like. Who I am' is to a large extent constituted by 'what I want.'
24. Life for the emotional is very different, comprised of dizzying revolutions of the clock, for 'what they want' changes so rapidly that 'who they are' is constantly in question.
10. But longing for a future that never comes is only the flip side of longing for a time that is always past. Is not the past often better simply because it is past? ...anticipation in the morning, anxiety in the actuality, and pleasant memories in the evening.
12. The inability to live in tbe present perhaps lies in the fear of realizing that this may be the arrival of what one has longed for all one's life, the fear of leaving the relatively sheltered position of anticipation or memory, and hence tacitly admitting that this is the only life that one is every likely [heavenly intervention aside] to live.
14. ...We wanted to test each other's capacity for survival: Only if we had tried in vain to destroy one another would we know we are safe.
Wouldn't know, I've never made it past the battleground stage.
6. "I think therefore I am" had metamorphosed into Lacan's "I am not where I think, and I think where I am not."
And on that note, I will defer to the Canadian band whose name I cannot remember who sang "I think I better think."