When we love someone, we see them as smarter, wittier, prettier, stronger than anyone else sees them. To us, a beloved parent, partner, or child has endlessly more talent, potential, and virtue than mere strangers can ever discern. Being loved, when we are born, keeps us alive; without love for her child, how could any new mother manage or any child survive? And if we grow up surrounded by love, we feel secure in the knowledge that others believe in us, will champion and defend us. That confidence — that we are loved and therefore lovable — is an essential building block of our identity and self-confidence. We believe in ourselves, at least in part, because others believe in us and we depend mightily on their belief. As human beings, we are highly driven to find and to protect the relationships that make us feel good about ourselves and that make us feel safe.. Those mirrors confirms our sense of self-worth. Love does the same thing … and that seems to be just as true even if our love is based on illusion. Indeed, there seems to be some evidence not only that all love is based on illusion — but that love positively requires illusion in order to endure.
Margaret Heffernan // Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril
Two people together, in any kind of relationship—mother, son; father, daughter; lovers; it doesn’t matter. One of them acutely neurotic. The neurotic hands on his or her state to the other, who takes it over, leaving the sick one well, the well one sick.
Doris Lessing // The Golden Notebook.
Eres invulnerable. ¿No te han dado
los números que rigen tu destino
certidumbre de polvo? ¿No es acaso
tu irreversible tiempo el de aquel río
en cuyo espejo Heráclito vio el símbolo
de su fugacidad? Te espera el mármol
que no leerás. En él ya están escritos
la fecha, la ciudad y el epitafio.
Sueños del tiempo son también los otros,
no firme bronce ni acendrado oro;
el universo es, como tú, Proteo.
Sombra, irás a la sombra que te aguarda
fatal en el confín de tu jornada;
piensa que de algún modo ya estás muerto.
J. L. Borges
We treat desire as a problem to be solved, address what desire is for and focus on that something and how to acquire it rather than on the nature and the sensation of desire, though often it is the distance between us and the object of desire that fills the space in between with the blue of longing. I wonder sometimes whether with a slight adjustment of perspective it could be cherished as a sensation on its own terms, since it is as inherent to the human condition as blue is to distance? If you can look across the distance without wanting to close it up, if you can own your longing in the same way that you own the beauty of that blue that can never be possessed? For something of this longing will, like the blue of distance, only be relocated, not assuaged, by acquisition and arrival, just as the mountains cease to be blue when you arrive among them and the blue instead tints the next beyond. Somewhere in this is the mystery of why tragedies are more beautiful than comedies and why we take a huge pleasure in the sadness of certain songs and stories. Something is always far away.
After all we hardly know our own depths.
. . .for the terrible agony which I have so lately endured — an agony known only to my God and to myself — seems to have passed my soul through fire and purified it from all that is weak. Henceforth I am strong: — this those who love me shall see — as well as those who have so relentlessly endeavored to ruin me.
POE, to Mrs. Helen Whitman (1848)
I met a shell of a mountain who knew she was finished
claimed she grew up from a grain of sand
with every year wider she bloomed a little bit longer
to the roof of the sky with outstretched hands
she made friends with the sun, shared enemies with no one
counted weeks like she should of counted days
and swallowed handfuls of night so she could sleep tight
and turn her thoughts from its stone cold ways
and this was the beginning, the start of the ending
you can't die from a broken heart
but from the time the sun rose
to the space where it fell away
she would love, and it wouldn't take part
and every every day she would echo echo
in every single way she should let go let go
but it had her in its sights cupids icy arrows
so she caught every one with her heart like it was her duty
it walked the wrong wrong way down her one way plan
she was surrounded by forests, rivers and beauty
until that glacier froze over the land
and so she blamed herself hated her wealth
she was born at too young of an age
and every night her dreams were touched by witches fingers
until her heart was caged.
with every morning spent not caring if she cares or not
sleeping in the melt and mud, waiting for the earth to rot
burying herself alive she scrapes the hole that it left open
empty as her very heart, that mountain was all broken
all broken, that mountain was all broken
now I can see that her bloods red and she’s got feelings and they always get spilled both without thinking.
Never to get lost is not to live
There’s another art of being at home in the unknown, so that being in its midst isn’t cause for panic or suffering, of being at home with being lost.
Lost is mostly a state of mind, and this applies as much to all the metaphysical and metaphorical states of being lost as to blundering around in the backcountry.
The question then is how to get lost. Never to get lost is not to live, not to know how to get lost brings you to destruction, and somewhere in the terra incognita in between lies a life of discovery.
Behind joy and laughter there may be a temperament, coarse, hard and callous. But behind sorrow there is always sorrow. Pain, unlike pleasure, wears no mask. Truth in art is not any correspondence between the essential idea and the accidental existence; it is not the resemblance of shape to shadow, or of the form mirrored in the crystal to the form itself; it is no echo coming from a hollow hill, any more than it is a silver well of water in the valley that shows the moon to the moon and Narcissus to Narcissus. Truth in art is the unity of a thing with itself: the outward rendered expressive of the inward: the soul made incarnate: the body instinct with spirit. For this reason there is no truth comparable to sorrow. There are times when sorrow seems to me to be the only truth. Other things may be illusions of the eye or the appetite, made to blind the one and cloy the other, but out of sorrow have the worlds been built, and at the birth of a child or a star there is pain.
More than this, there is about sorrow an intense, an extraordinary reality. I have said of myself that I was one who stood in symbolic relations to the art and culture of my age. There is not a single wretched man in this wretched place along with me who does not stand in symbolic relation to the very secret of life. For the secret of life is suffering. It is what is hidden behind everything. When we begin to live, what is sweet is so sweet to us, and what is bitter so bitter, that we inevitably direct all our desires towards pleasures, and seek not merely for a ‘month or twain to feed on honeycomb,’ but for all our years to taste no other food, ignorant all the while that we may really be starving the soul.
Sex. The difficulty of writing about sex, for women, is that sex is best when not thought about, not analysed. Women deliberately choose not to think about technical sex. They get irritable when men talk technically, it’s out of self-preservation: they want to preserve the spontaneous emotion that is essential for their satisfaction.
Sex is essentially emotional for women. How many times has that been written? And yet there’s always a point even with the most perceptive and intelligent man, when a woman looks at him across a gulf: he hasn’t understood; she suddenly feels alone; hastens to forget the moment, because if she doesn’t she would have to think.
Julia, myself and Bob sitting in her kitchen gossiping. Bob telling a story about the breakup of a marriage. He says: ‘The trouble was sex. Poor bastard, he’s got a prick the size of a needle.’ Julia: ‘I always thought she didn’t love him.’ Bob, thinking she hadn’t heard”
“heard: ‘No, it’s always worried him stiff, he’s just got a small one.’ Julia: ‘But she never did love him, anyone could see that just by looking at them together.’ Bob, a bit impatient now: ‘It’s not their fault, poor idiots, nature was against the whole thing from the start.’ Julia: ‘Of course it’s her fault. She should never have married him if she didn’t love him.’ Bob, irritated because of her stupidity, begins a long technical explanation, while she looks at me, sighs, smiles, and shrugs. A few minutes later, as he persists, she cuts him off short with a bad-tempered joke, won’t let him go on.
Doris Lessing // The Golden Notebook