Sunday, December 27, 2009

Eternal love

I have been thinking about romantic love that can't acted upon. There are two basic schools of thought on this, it seems to me. One is that if a love affair can't be had, one should move on, and not be in love with the person any more. On this view, continuing to be in love shows up as pathological, as not being able to let go. There was a conversation on NPR the other day to this effect, in relation to the country song "He Stopped Loving Her Today." The other view is that one loves the other until, well, until one no longer does, but with the proviso that this may well be until one dies, depending upon the nature of what one feels for the other.

As with other aspects of romantic love, I think that our culture is deeply ambivalent about this. Indeed, I am always a little shocked by how un-romantic many people's views are, yet also how contradictory. We disapprove of arranged marriages, for example - "No, no, marriage is about true love," we protest - but then, when Mark Sanford reported that he would at least die happy knowing that he's met and loved his soul-mate - and that she wasn't his wife, with whom he reported not being in love - just about everyone I know thought that he should stay in his marriage. Any suggestion to the contrary was met with derision. Why? Because whether or not one is in love with one's spouse is irrelevant. [Though the anxiety (if he can leave, maybe I or my spouse can leave) and the anger (if I have to be unhappy, he has to be too) in the air were palpable.]

Anyway, I don't know if it is right to think that loving someone forever is a weakness of will. I can see it both ways.

3 comments:

Tom Mandall said...

Interesting text, but mainly I was pleased to see that one other blogger has Schubert's Quintet in C on their favourite list.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a frequent visitor, but popped in today, and saw your last post. It reminded me that this morning I had heard Laurie's song "Many a New Day" from Oklahoma! This song argues for the less romantic, more realistic vision. (I'm a guy BTW.) I would guess, though, that most popular music takes the other side.

As another aside, I actually met Gov. Sanford a few years ago, and he isn't the brightest fellow. What he does shouldn't be anyone's guide.

Here are the lyrics:

Why should a woman who is healthy and strong,
Blubber like a baby if her man goes away?
A-weepin' and a-wailin' how he done her wrong,
That's one thing you'll never hear me say!
Never gonna' think that the man I lose is the only man among men.
I'll snap my fingers to show I don't care;
I'll buy me a brand new dress to wear;
I'll scrub my neck and I'll brush my hair,
And start all over again.
Many a new face will please my eye,
Many a new love will find me;
Never've I once looked back to sigh over the romance behind me;
Many a new day will dawn before I do!
Many a light lad may kiss and fly,
A kiss gone by is bygone.
Never've I asked an August sky, "Where has last July gone?"
Never've I wandered through the rye, wondering where has some guy gone;
Many a new day will dawn before I do!
Many a new face will please my eye,
Many a new love will find me;
Never've I once looked back to sigh over the romance behind me;
Many a new day will dawn before I do!
Many a light lad may kiss and fly,
A kiss gone by is bygone.
Never've I asked an August sky, "Where has last July gone?"
Never've I wandered through the rye, wondering where has some guy gone;
Many a new day will dawn before I do!
Many a red sun will set!
Many a blue moon will shine before I do!

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