The ability for it should grow, be made to grow, be cultivated.
The objects of it change, often disappear or become demon versions of what they were.
'Romantic' love shapes itself within an amniotic sac, handling itself only in the most exegetical, self-definitional way. No wonder it's short-lived. Nine months? It should gestate that long! The membranes, the frontiers of self-contained environments, they stiffen, they fissure, they crack, and -- boo! -- a monster is born.
Hence the relative virtue of caritas, the love spun from the heart of religions -- and surely secularizable.
Without a sense of broader connection, of fellow-feeling, one gets the cynic -- not that justifiable version of cynic who questions establishment values, but the cynic soured on anything. Stunted.
T Fool has a graduate degree in literature, yet has seen performed only 14 of Shakespeare's plays, has only just recently 'read' Joyce's Ulysses (by listening to Jim Norton's performance of it on Naxos), has intended to take on Proust's Recherche, etc, but hasn't, has no intention of tackling Don Quixote despite its being brought up time and again.
Indeed, if key works (let alone major subsidiary works, still less the intensively-researched 'small' ones) of the Western world (not even getting to the Eastern) were scribbled onto sheets of long paper, T Fool's check marks would be far and few between.
This is not to denigrate either his education or his ambition toward one.
This is to note how difficult it is to get beyond 'small specialty' even when one's aim is humanistic, even when one tries to encompass much, even when one preaches 'breadth' and 'range' and 'depth' to classrooms of college faces which betoken intelligent minds beyond the mp3 earbuds, slouchy clothing, and other contemporary camouflage.
Masha, with her long legs and buoyant hello. She kicks up her legs in greeting, if once, often, in T Fool's fantasies of her. The room imagined with books: Pushkin and gazeteers, Marguerite Duras, some volumes with analytically cold titles connecting to mathematics. T Fool has no understanding of the latter, but in hearing her discourse on them -- sometimes in chalk, in a poetry (!) of quantitative relationships -- he feels her fire. The serious looks, her face picking up shadows, pin him, and he lies back as she initiates lovetaking. Authoritative. He has wanted to feed her cherries, but meets her pace. That is all.
Asking about her five years after circumstance keeps their daily routines utterly separate, he's apprised she has cancer.
Said of Robert Byron's books (and character), by Paul Fussell in his book Abroad.
" . . . all nine . . . dramatize the action of the disciplined moral intelligence beleaguered by stupidity, convention, received error, greed, provincialism, nationalism, and aggression."
Byron seems to have come from what we Americans might see as an 'aristocratic' point of view, a man parodied by movies as 'English gentry': part eccentric, part wit, part fop, part university man, part remittance man, part fair-play umpire, part assumptive snoot, part decent sort. A type not without charm and interest, but a type hard for us to create now with a straight face. Not being able to attest either to Byron's books or to Byron himself, one might like to assign such virtues to those of us living now, hoping that we might apply them in our own context. That human ugliness against which Fussell claims Byron's opposition, though, might be pinned down in the matter of less than an hour, concretized from a look or two at websites or web headlines.
We're arboreal no more, but we're a bad crew. Always have been.
From Quinx, the fifth novel in The Avignon Quintet cycle. Diplomats having to explain Buddhism to the Chinese. Tale of the Chinese King and the result of zazen practice over decades in one place:
". . . Reality now was sweet as a plum, romantic as wedding cake among these neolithic veins of gorgeous stone which he rejected in favour of a barren uncoloured strip of cave . . . What he was rewarded with was something that would not melt in silence, nor pucker in wind, nor be honed by mischief-makers, nor claimed by clowns. Within it all polarities ceded. Never was it to be disavowed by the wrong love."
One more stumbling step by yours truly into the technified 21st Century: LATE OTT (i.e. this blog) now shows YouTube and other source videos. (See webpage links).
Note my stodgy compromise? Nothing more current than, maybe, ten years, and some considerably older, all dealing with figures well-established, brave but declining, or dead.
That's the way I like 'em: Genuine. Weathered. Historic. Authentic.
Yes, I do like yapping about 'mid-Century' themes almost as much as a room full of architects and design mavens. Being lodged one leg deeply in that time, this animal calls out for resolution of it, a meaning to it, to see what it's all been destined for.
A little heavy for dealing with writers, film directors, and television interviewers? Maybe. But the thread of my life still does feel its tensile anchor outside the labyrinth as I continue to wind my way around.
Two young women, pretty, Asian, silhouetted by the spacious, sun-whitenened Starbucks window, looked my way, and one of them waved. I looked behind me and saw a man with salt-and-pepper hair and an Aloha shirt. He winked. My conclusion: they're together. But, no.
One of the women came trotting up to me. Mr. T________, Mr. T________, don't you remember me?
She brought her friend nearer. This is Mr. T________, the best teacher I had in . . . language arts? English?