Tuesday, February 12, 2013

That's Exactly How It Is

Cupid driving the Lovers
Last night in a little black book, The Lover’s Discourse by Roland Barthes, I stumbled upon words that were ‘so very true’ and instances which were ‘exactly what happens’, and drugged on by this familiarity, I forgot to sleep.

Here are few passages that leaped up to me and asked, “Don’t we look familiar?

After realizing that you love him, and meeting him thereafter for the first time: “I saw him, blushed, turned pale when our eyes met, Confusion seized my bewildered soul.” ~Racine

On the various assurances a lover tries to quell his anxiety of not knowing how the other feels, and resorts to seek answers in irrational ways like plucking the petals of a flower to the rhythm of ‘he loves me/he loves me not’ or randomly rolling a dice and saying, ‘if four, he loves me:
“Magic consultations, secret rites and votive actions rule the lover’s life…’He loves me/he loves me not’...all or nothingif/then. From any consultant whatever, I expect the following: ‘The person you love you as well, and will tell you so tonight.’”

On being unable to let go of the thin thread of hallucinatory desire that the love is reciprocated, but not revealed (for some obscure reason):  
“Even as he obsessively asks himself why he is not loved, the amorous subject lives in the belief that the loved object does love him but does not tell him so…The truth of the matter is that-by an exorbitant paradox-I never stop believing that I am loved. The lover hallucinates what he desires…I love you becomes you love me. One day, X receives some orchids, anonymously; he immediately hallucinate their source: they could only come from the person who loves him; and the person who loves him could only be the person he loves. It is only after a long period of investigation that he manages to dissociate the two interferences: the person who loves him is not necessarily the person he loves.”


On the massive declarations that the lover makes, while the other remains silent; and how worried the lover becomes of saying too much too soon:
“The lover’s discourse stifles the other, who finds no place for his own language beneath this massive utterance…The other is disfigured by his persistent silence, as in those terrible dreams in which a loved person shows up with the lower part of his face quite erased, without any mouth at all; and I, the one who speaks, I am too disfigured; soliloquy makes me into a monster: one huge tongue.”

Barthes dissects love/desire, or rather the feeling which the amorous subject holds for the loved being, in incisive details covering every aspect of this feeling that is the very core of our existence, yet so difficult to put in the right words. Stories tell us of lovers and the circumstances, the origin and conclusion of a particular and specific love. But Barthes brings forth the discourse of the lover, who is the archetype of all lovers. The lover in his attempt to understand it himself, tells us about love. 

Note: An OED is an essential bedside companion if you decide to take this book to bed with you.

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