Something came up about gratitude earlier in the week that left me thinking. It can be pleasant when someone thanks you for something, and it might not be. When power plays out gratitude can be an angle of attack, as much as it can be a feeling of love, of connection. A lack of gratitude can signal that no debt’s felt as much as that someone wants to deny any indebtedness. No gratitude can mean unconditional love or relentless aggression. (And gratitude can mean unconditional love or relentless aggression …). Expecting gratitude suggests a desire to be suspicious of, but finding it unexpectedly most often doesn’t.
Every time you try to describe me, you simplify me. You limit me. Immediately I am no longer me (not, perhaps that I would do any better). The only kind of truth that will ever reveal as much of me, of you, as would a lifetime of getting to know each other, is in poetry; and then, perhaps it could even be more.
I was on my way to meet a friend for lunch yesterday and realised my mood had spiralled downwards after a run of irritating things. Tuesday had been patchy to rotten, yesterday morning was rotten to patchy, both in spite of (or perhaps exacerbated by) some lovely moments. Then a colleague showed me a picture of a kiss. I told her about a kiss I’d seen yesterday: Tom Hiddlestone as Henry V kissing the French princess. I wish I could show a link here but perhaps it’s best left to the imagination, and Shakespeare, to whom I think the actors somehow managed to remain faithful:
(KING HENRY V)
You have witchcraft in your lips, Kate: there is more eloquence in a sugar touch of them than in the tongues of the French council; and they should sooner persuade Harry of England than a general petition of monarchs.
That got me back on my feet. I then found some Frank O’Hara:
And love healed all. I felt free to enjoy lunch with my friend.
You don’t need to know who you are to have sex but you do to hold hands.
Something about us, consciousness we call it, ‘a mind endowed with subjectivity’ as Damasio puts it, continues to expand and diversify: the power to more than reproduce; the ability to fall in love, create art and hate each other. More about us is being transferred without being written down (email, texts) than it has for many, many years, but being stored without finding material form in vessels that won’t grow old and die (data storage). These are not memories which will die with us, or the thinking of the distant past which died with them, our ancestors who didn’t mark things down.
Human beings are a product of our ever-expanding ways of remembering and thinking: the same old emotions, but new ways of responding to them. I imagine, as we go about transferring and storing, we’ll find ways of displacing ourselves permanently, losing our dependency on feeling. No need for metaphor in the kind of awful transfer I imagine; no possibility of love or holding hands as we escape our bodies. Or shouldn’t that be dying?
You don’t need to know who you are to have sex but you do to hold hands. We wouldn’t be who we are without writing, and we certainly won’t be, either.
I can offer a few thoughts that might help, but it depends how you’re listening. What’s love? It isn’t so much that nobody knows; more a matter of everybody knowing without realising they do.
A lot of people asking questions about love are looking to confirm something they already believe, or feel strongly about, without realising it. Tell them something about love they disagree with and they’ll dismiss you out of hand, or shoot whatever you’re saying down before it barely gets off the ground. Love is a hell of a feeling. Continue reading “What is Love?”
I’m not sure what’s beautiful, but I appreciate it. What appeals to my senses might not appeal to yours, but I can’t be certain. The attraction I find to certain figures in the world … is it the degree of uncertainty that really draws my attention? The ‘who or what’s this?’ rather than the ‘that is’? Certainty makes me less interested, perhaps, because it’s an insistent lie. I can’t be certain. I lose interest in whatever I can’t trust; and I know I can’t be certain. Continue reading “Beautiful, I Don’t Know and Love”