Wednesday, October 14, 2009
It is only in acknowledging and thus exposing the weakness of ourselves can true growth begin, since it is at this juncture where honesty with oneself begins. In a sense, what might be seen as the darker, or uglier self is actually the most beautiful, as it is founded in our multiplicities, and a more realistic nature of experience. When we love, within joy there is always darkness, sadness, or jealousy that is not in conflict with such emotions, but rather expected. “The dynamic self” is only dynamic by virtue of being tested against another, as these almost unknowable intricacies require a certain leap; a leap into the distance between you and me.
I will not know if you will love me until I try. To not even reveal the rotten, or self-indulgent qualities is to not even try.
As the beauty of the action lies in its own perpetual motion, we will never know another, but to embrace and love that which is unknowable is the task. I embrace the exquisite unknowability of your being as once again a return back to my own.
Yet, I think I disagree with the notion that my desire is only for that which I lack. Love must never be an answer due to lack. Love is not an act of completion, because it supposes my own being before even being able to love. I do agree, that everything is an act of becoming, the constant flux of who we are, which in the best situations occurs simultaneously at different speeds.
I truly believe that once we take this leap into becoming, it never ceases, even if the circumstances might change. In a very basic sense, if you truly love someone, does it ever really end? Just as if my physical love might diminish with a person, that specific type of love is merely rechanneled into different milieus or people.
(I need to stop there for the moment, I still need to address your last paragraph, and ask some more questions of my own, to be continued...)
Meanwhile, I have been stuck on Carse's revealing words about the action of "exposing one's ceaseless growth, the dynamic self that has yet to be", and what is at stake in both the exposure and the potentiality therein. If love is the ultimate act of knowing, then it must be the ultimate act of exposing, of vulnerability. Carse "ceaseless growth", which is perhaps the ideal, means that we must also expose the weaknesses that can inhibit that growth, those things which might, all of our lives, hold us back. How could it be possible to enable that "dynamic self" without contending with those darker and less virtuous characteristics, without revealing the inadequate, the petty, the ugly self? What does exposing one's failings mean for love? How vulnerable are we when one knows those weaknesses as well as they know our strengths? Without such a full disclosure and the associated potential for growth, one could argue, there can be no true love (or knowing).
Our ability to love is tied to our ability to recognize all aspects of an individual. Only when we are laid bare is there the potential for this recognition, for it occurs most profoundly in the places where we are deficient, where there is a lack. Likewise, John Armstrong says that we are drawn to individuals whose virtues we wish to possess, who can illuminate a path to the becoming the person we would like to be. So it would seem that self-awareness, acceptance, or, if you will, self love, would enable us to find the partner who would best promote such growth.
Love also encompasses the vulnerability of recognizing that the knowing one "possesses" when in love, that allows us to take "the leap into chance" can come to an end at any moment or be rejected from the outset, it can be fractured by any number of actions or lost completely as in death. That love may be swept away, extinguished, or unrequited, what then? Does love end with the passing of reciprocation, is it required? When the mirror of another through which we see ourselves is lost or never existed to start? Is the memory or idea of that love enough to maintain it or does love then become something else- longing? I believe Heidegger when he writes that "Love transforms gratitude into loyalty to our selves and unconditional faith in the other.", but does that faith persist in the face of loss or absence? Is this where religion makes its entrance, where faith in the individual is supplanted? Can love can survive its own end, does it maintain its integrity? Is this why love is accompanied by fear? Because all is at stake, our "sweet burden" of both knowing another and knowing ourselves? And how do we know ourselves without the love of another?
What is it to love ones self, to embrace, with the mirror of self-conciousness all of the virtues and faults we possess? Can we as individuals provide for ourselves, nourishing and growing with that same "ceaseless growth"? Do we require romantic love to be fulfilled as architects of our lives?
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Here are some of my thoughts, I apologize if I ramble.
Martin Heidegger wrote in a letter to his student Hannah Arendt, "We never know what we can become for others through our Being." If one might think of love as a return to being, then it can serve as a way to knowing oneself. The act of loving is one of knowing. The chance of the action is that which I seek. When we are united in love through chance, as love celebrates a return to being. I choose to love as I take the leap into chance. Love is never a compromise, a moment that is chosen out of desperation, fear of loneliness, lack of independence. It is the ultimate act of knowing, as we never really see ourselves unless it is through another person's eyes. I need to love, I always must love, as it is a way towards enlivenment.
Heidegger continues in a later letter to Hannah, "Why is love rich beyond all other possible human experiences and a sweet burden to those seized in its grasp? Because we become what we love and yet remain ourselves. Then we want to thank the beloved, but find nothing that suffices. We can only thank with our selves. Love transforms gratitude into loyalty to our selves and unconditional faith in the other."
It seems that to truly discuss love we will discuss everything. Nothing will be missed, as that is the reason why we cannot usually address love. Yes, some path must be demarcated, but it cannot be a path which will slice territories short of their relevancy. We must discuss the body, sex, sexuality, loss, death, trust, mourning, friendship, vulnerability, touch as they unite in manifestations of love. To touch, to be touched in a way that the distance is not merely be removed. James Carse believes that "I am touched only if I respond from my own center--that is, spontaneously, originally. But you do not touch me except from your own center, out of your own genius. Touching is always reciprocal. You cannot touch me unless I touch you in response."
Before you touch me, you do not know if I will touch in response. I must be vulnerable. I must welcome an openness. My willingness to this openness is a gesture "that is not a matter of exposing one's unchanging identity, the true self that has always been, but a way of exposing one's ceaseless growth, the dynamic self that has yet to be." --James Carse. This once again returns to my being. Although not frozen in the moment to come or even what I am, my being is intensified, amplified through realized possibilities. When we love, my being is extending through you, because of you.
to be continued...
Monday, September 14, 2009
Here are some thoughts, curious about yours...
What is love? Aristotle described philia, as a desire to do “what it good for the other not for one’s own sake, but for theirs.”
A problematic: A conversation on love, one could imagine, could swiftly expand like a cloud swallowing everything in its path- how did we come to love, why do we love, what kinds of love are there, how do desire and intimacy increase love or cause its destruction? Love, it seems, raises only questions while offering no substantive answers. Likewise, those questions stretch to encompass every emotion, anger, jealousy, despair and happiness. Loves reach is too great.
Why talk about love? What is it about this moment, this place, our relationship, that makes a conversation on love meaningful, even necessary?
I think that while the conditions of love have evolved with our western culture, and the way that we love in relationships has adapted accordingly, we are fundamentally separated, disconnected, as a society. I feel it every day, as I pass people on the street in need without a thought and I hope that people in stores will not talk to me. As much as I try to fight these behaviors, I recognize that this is how I most naturally am. Am I an agorophobe? A classist? Probably yes. But moreover, I am wary of contact. Wary of people who want things from me, even if that thing is just a moment of conversation. I am naturally, and I believe socially conditioned to be indifferent or even selfish.
And the problem with that is, of course, that generosity is one of the main manifestations of love- to do, as Aristotle says, what is good for the other. It transcends and unites all types of love: intimate and familial relations, friendships and professional relationships. All hinge on the generosity of spirit and action.
So in my life, and most definitively in my work and our work, enters the idea of katabasis: a moment of humility. In Conditions of Love, John Armstrong describes it as a “coming down from the plateau of indifference” and defines it as a recuperative virtue. These are the moments that I believe we are making, this is the quality that we attempt to extend to an often-indifferent public. Erich Fromm, in The Art of Loving, says that “our disconnection from other people is the central problem of our times”. It seems to me that we are, in the same small way as a novel or piece of music, offering people an opportunity to join us in a shared moment, which is love.
The leap: To get from indifference to love requires that which Judith Butler insists is what makes a life: recognition. In order to love, one must be able to see, to really see, another person. But on a far more basic and broad level, recognition is what enables us to respect life, precarious as it is. So no love can exists without recognition, it is a fundamental condition of love.
A conversation about a conversation about love. Because how do we have a conversation on love? As I see it, it is too vast a territory to be simply set off upon, we need to somehow demarcate, map, and chart a course across its expanse, just the opposite of what we will do in the balloon. For if we just float over love, we will never get to any meaningful understanding of it, and particularly its relevance to our work, which I think is at issue here. This conversation on love is a conversation about us, it is us.
more to follow..