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Saturday, 30 May 2009

On love . . .

I have been reading Stendhal's De l'amour today. Love fascinates me. Being in love. Growing to love someone. Being in love with someone. I am in love; but I admit that I am hard work. That it's sometimes hard to love me. I remember when I first met Holly, my fiancĂ©e, and I said to her: "I just thought I'd warn you that I'm not very laid back . . .” I think there are times in our life when these words come back to haunt us both. But, because I believe in our love, I continue to develop; I continue to strive towards love, in spite of the moments that could be considered to be in keeping with my words to her. I think I wanted to warn her of my imperfections before our love developed into something all-consuming, as new love tends to do. So, knowing these imperfections would always be there, it seemed best for me to admit their presence in my life before love, falling in love, temporarily obscured them. In De l'amour Stendhal writes:

"At the Salzburg salt mines in the winter they throw a bare branch from a leafless tree into the abandoned depths of the mines. When they return two or three months later they find that the branch is now adorned with sparkling crystals. The smallest twig, no bigger than a tit’s claw, is now covered with an infinite number of dazzling diamonds. The branch first thrown in the mine is no longer recognizable.

This is what I call crystallisation. It’s the mental process by which everything is taken as yet further evidence of the loved one’s perfections."

I am aware that crystallisation hides the truth. It keeps the truth hidden. This is why I mentioned my imperfections when we first met. The love Stendhal points towards is blindness, it conceals, a hyper-reality that turns imperfection towards perfection. I didn't want our love to be shattered by my imperfections. I wanted our love to be real and not the stuff of philosophy. Next month in front of my family and friends I will be able to speak of this love we share together, knowing that it is real, knowing that our own form of crystallisation is something developed as one, that it doesn't hide the truth or create a perfection in me that clouds our judgement. That for me is true love. That is love. And why I am in love - something I am extremely proud of.

Stendhal is an oddity to read, and he misses one fundamental point: love is not the individual's objectification of the other, it is something to be wholly shared; to be honest, I much prefer this from Albert Camus:

"I know of only one duty, and that is to love."


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