Monday, December 12, 2011

"some notes on love and marriage" first thoughts for an essay

Okay, I’ve been doing this marriage thing for a while, and since I analyze everything in my life, even my own analyzing, yes I have drawn some preliminary conclusions about the nature of love, romance, and marriage. Here they are!


Daniel Christopher June


Some notes on Love and Marriage




Ah my dream girl, you are so much like me! Born in a library, and never far from your home, a homebody and literati like me. You are a passionate poet and a keen eyed philosopher, and know a great writer when you see one. You see me. You encourage me and also challenge me…

            The hypostasis of a dream girl or dream boy is to seal off the risk in love, the problem that joy requires intimacy and intimacy makes you vulnerable. What is the worst sin? To betray the beloved. Yet there is something liberating in such a betrayal, something soul-necessary in escaping the one who loves you most, knows you must. Love suffocates. Knowledge and power insist on distance. And really, the soul needs both: intimacy and distance, love and defense. We need to grow, and growing means casting off your shell, casting off the cushion-chains of comfort, of breaking bonds and bounds and also vows. Yet is not the marriage vow the weightiest vow of them all. We may take the Hippocratic oath, we may swear to do our duty, but there is honor and there is intimacy. Something deeper sinks in the legalizing of intimacy, in the sanctified such of marital bliss.

            Legalism, which is such a peculiar magical use of language, a computer programming of human relationships – who could imagine such a thing is possible? The small print is not written by inspiration, but is guided by thousands and hundreds of thousands of court-cases, endless jail time, fines, fees, and every mode and order of argument, stipulation, and the challenging of ambiguity. The legal system as we know it was invented by the Romans, necessarily by them, the first world empire. They needed law to control their world. Their creation is a mental and social technology equal to the myths we created for ten thousand years, the religions we created for two thousand years, and every mode of art which for the same. These spontaneous acts we do each day are allowed, created, put on the artificial platform of a the ratiocreative work of a thousand generations.

            Vow’s of love are meant to be broken. The highschool sweetheart vows on the moon and the tides, and the trees and the wide blue sky that her love will be eternal. She wishes to prove love with reference to truth. Such folly! Truth and love are different orders entirely, antithetical even. Love lacks the distance and objectivity to speak the truth. Love is blind in that he only sees what he wants to see.

            Love isn’t even sufficient unto itself. The couple must share goals beyond each other. How selfless it must seem to love so utterly another person. How selfless to advertise to the world endlessly how perfect your lover is, how eternal her form, how perfect her mind. What pure humility, with no trace of egotism, it is to write eloquent versus about the dip in her lip or the sink at the base of her neck. And when the couple is finally edged together into holy matrimony, to the relief of every set of friends – who were not at all annoyed at the endless outpour of mutual praise and breathless delight the couple shared, but merely concerned that if the law doesn’t step in, true love might get away – then the praise of lover to lover turns to complaint. It might seem vicious, the way some husbands, but mostly wives, go on about their spouses. At first it’s a little shocking. You  -- don’t like him? Oh you do…but then? What isn’t apparent is that this chain of complaints is just a second way of praising the relationship. Lovers quarrels are forms of flirtation, lover’s complaints are assurances of intimacy. And again, the wedding couple needs some sort of identity outside the relationships, some recourse to the maiden name in the wife, some recourse to the bachelor freedom in the husband. As always, language creates worlds. When the husband is with his friends, his words can exile the phantom of the wife with a few gently disparaging remarks. Her spiritual presence, which he can scarcely escape – even when she’s at work, he feels her yelling at him for not rinsing his dishes, or putting his laundry in the hamper, or whatever else – is cast away by the magic of language, so that he is free. And this isn’t betrayal. Or if it is, then it’s the necessary betrayal for sustained intimacy.

            To share this house together, to share it for days and nights, weeks and months, forever. To constantly critique each other’s behaviors, to analyze each other’s moods, to be every wary that she doesn’t real love me anymore, that he doesn’t real care for me like he used to, to like a sleuth look for clues or evidence of any dishonesty or infidelity, to keep a keen eye also on all the other male threats in the neighborhood, at the gas-stations, in the streets, who espy a woman of such incomparable beauty and grace (if only they knew her!), and again to recall every holiday, to learn by heart the entire code of “things not to bring up,” and “index of my touchy subjects,” – yes, yes, a little distance is sometimes called for.

            Are the couple happy? Happy as they can be. Happily ever after is the normal state of affairs, at least half the marriages go this way, only happily ever after has the same sufferings, fights, and furies that single ever after would also have. If marriage was the cure for life’s sufferings, then why did Buddha escape?

            Happiness cannot be directly sought. Some goods are only achieved when you are attempting something else. Happiness and love are rewards, not goals, and when they are sought directly, the ever allude. You become first desperate and then anxious, and then whose going to want to date you then? Love makes this rule: if you need love, you can’t have it. This reminds me the eloquent situation I found myself in during adolescence: you need a car to get t your job, you need a job to buy your car. Kinda like the poverty trap: you need money to make money, which is a double trap, because for most impoverished people, they couldn’t make money even if they did have it.

            Love is by nature transgressive. There is some complicity between each couple, they are denying the world, casting off duty and society for each other. Love is crime. And being wed in crime, not only loving each other, but sharing a guilt, the couple knit their souls to each other. The constant exposure, the ever intensive mutual commentary, makes the couple double. Even if they don’t more and more resemble each other, till people initially think they are brother and sister, and cringe when they kiss, still the man becomes more what his wife wants him to be, and the wife become more what the man wants too.

            I mean what the spouses really want, not what they say they want. Love is a game, like all things are. If you have a bad habit, I can hold that over you for all your life. If we get in a dispute, I don’t even have to bring up your vices and mistakes, I need merely give you that look, and we both know that I have the moral high ground. But then you get some dirt on me, and know we both have ammunition. The dialect of the husband and wife, so inscrutable and impenetrable, that nobody on the outside can get it, is nuanced, intimate, and infinite. Where do you think Socrates learned his dialectic? From the ever pleasant wife at home, who with her constant disputes and demands, drove the man to philosophy, though he would later blame a God.

            Spouses don’t even regret each other’s follies and mistakes, they fully love them. “Nobody will steal you from me, because look at this fault.” And as religion has always put the golden ring of morality in the nose of the bull – to lead our strength by our weakness, so do couples manipulate each other through accusatory speech. There is so much harmless blackmail in all conversations. Embaress your brother in front of his girlfriend, and somehow in the conversation, he will accidently bring up one of your embaressing flaws. Blackmail, promise, innuendo, layers upon layer so fit, characterize all talk and conversation. Not only what comes out of the mouth, but the shape of the mouth, the wrinkle of the eye. We communicate more than we know, and others understand those things, sometimes also not knowing how or why, or even knowing that they know at all. A mere glance and I have your life story. And for the wife or husband who has you figured out, when you actually start to correct your vices, become a better person, mature, that’s when she gets nervous. Now she’s afraid. The husband starts going to the gym. Whose he trying to impress? The wife starts appraising herself in the mirror. He’s getting more attractive – are we still evenly matched? Will he resent me, will he carefully suggest that he could, if he wanted, do better, and therefore manipulate me? I think I’m going to go on a diet. And I knew a man who once he found religion and ceased many of his bad habits, found that his girlfriend mysteriously cheated on him. Why? To escape him! Her official justification of course was something else. We want somebody we are comfortable with. Here you go changing things, changing the rules, treating me – nice! Even if you are suddenly kind and loving and perfect to me, I am now deathly afraid. It seems that if the marriage is to survive, the couple must grow together.

            Love grows in commitment, and commitment is secured by duty. In this the couple matures. Maturity is frustration tolerance. Deny the child the candy bar and she stomps and howls and demands justice from heaven. An old man, if he kept on track, can patiently lose the use of many organs, be insulted by his ungrateful children, be retired early, despite his wishes, but never complain – you would never guess! – and its more than stoicism, but it is the indispensible form of intelligence called patience. I sometimes think there is no intelligence at all where there is no patience.

            Lovers speak a language that nobody knows. How annoying the wife or girlfriend who seeks sympathy for supposed abuse or cruelty from the spouse. It is easy to impress others with how horrible a spouse is, quoting them out of context, and no amount of context filling is possible: the relationship is not between two people, but the two are one, the are in it together. The whole thing is necessary, and event the accents of freedom are merely to create a firmer union between the two. Lack the black I, I don’t want to listen. And you, adulteress man, whose wife just doesn’t get him, who has to supplement, I know you do that to keep your marriage in place, but I tell you this: whether you get caught or not, the relationship is altered. It is different because you are different, and she doesn’t have to know, you don’t have to confess, for your character is different through and through, and it changes not just some things, but everything. Nor can you repent out of it. What is done now is done forever. Do a deed and you are forever the man who did it. Your muscles learn of it, your nerves are tweaked by it.

            Its not all bad. Instead of “repentances” we have “learning from mistakes,” and “compensating for past wrongs.” You can grow stronger, you can improve, from every area, in every way.

            A mature love is a dance, and both partners move together. Either you grow together or you grow apart. You must talk, every day, challenge each other and affirm each other. Words aren’t the only way to speak, but every thing you do is a form of language. One hasn’t said a thing by mouthing the worse. Context and sincerity say the truths you mean, and you are limited in what truths and beauties you can mean. I don’t care if you have found the most beautiful poem in the world, it will fall flat from your lips unless you are equal to it, unless the time and the place are receptive to it. Endless theories, mounds of advice won’t avail. Therapy will never avail. Any educated fool can speculate on high matters in complicated jargon – its easy. To say the same truths in your own voice, to speak simple, basic, comprehensive truths, is not the mark of intelligence, but of wisdom. Wisdom is the maturing of intelligence, but I would say even simplicity can achieve such wisdom. Simple linear communication may not be your forte, sir professor, but when you achieve it, you will no longer be a scholar but a sage.

            Two speakers face each other. Language is crystallized desire, the tongue is liquid, the air melts with their intentions. Each speaker has his or her own speech. They want to influence each other. Their desires are some mixture of love and fear, or intimacy and distance, or sex and power – it is in everything we say, though euphemized, though riddled away. Not only do I as a speaker address you as a speaker, but I address myself to my own language, and my language to yours, and you to your langauge, and your langauge to mine. Our languages can be at odds, we can be speaking different modalities. Every language has a tone, which evokes a layer of the heart. If I whisper and talk tenderly, the entire room is different. We are in a different world. We square shoulders, align hearts, and look upon the other face to face. We have created a rendezvous. With the right words we can sink deeper into our world, or go out of it. We can transfer ideas, build powers of distance, impose threats and promises, we can love. When closer and closer, you might suddenly say a casual joke. At this point, that joke stings deep like it would not if we were passing in the street. Each layer of intimacy has different powers.

            When your language subordinates mine, you are showing your power, and making me respect you. When your language has a theory that explains my language and predicts it, then I am in your control. When your psychology anticipates me, you are over me, you are a step away from programming me. I fear you. The relation of my words to yours implies the relationship between me and you, my spirit to yours. It is as if the words were chess pieces, and by twisting out your threats and promises, by exposing your subtle tricks, I undo you, I destroy your strategies and perhaps change your very psychology of me, who you think I am. The spirit is the faculty of language, both the conventional language our our mother tongue, and the language of ideas and feelings each of us has hidden in our hearts, which makes the spoken language in its image.

            A marriage is a sort of conversation. Does an old man simply praise life? He has experienced too much to make simple statements about life. Life is complicated, it is too many things. Ditto marriage. It is a complex interface, a language, the stage of sufferings and joys. It is certainly glorious, but for the single person, alternate glories suffice. In all things, match your outer world to your inner needs and desires, and the desires to your world. Then when you suffer and when you triumph, through all the goods and bads, you will still ever be happy.





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