Schlagwortarchiv für: Alain de Botton

Though ordi­na­ry ter­ro­rists may occa­sio­nal­ly for­ce con­ces­si­ons from governments by blowing up buil­dings or school­child­ren, roman­tic ter­ro­rists are doo­med to disap­point­ment becau­se of a fun­da­men­tal incon­sis­ten­cy in their approach. You must love me, says the roman­tic ter­ro­rist; I will for­ce you to love me by sul­king at you or making you feel jea­l­ous. But then comes the para­dox, for if love is retur­ned, it is at once con­si­de­red tain­ted, and the roman­tic ter­ro­rist must com­p­lain, If I have only for­ced you to love me, then I can­not accept this love, for it was not spon­ta­ne­ous­ly given. Roman­tic ter­ro­rism is a demand that nega­tes its­elf in the pro­cess of its resolution.
(Alain de Bot­ton – On Love)

It is easiest to accept hap­pi­ness when it is brought about through things that one can con­trol, that one has achie­ved after much effort and rea­son. But the hap­pi­ness I had reached with Chloe had not come as a result of any per­so­nal achie­ve­ment or effort. It was sim­ply the out­co­me of having, by a mira­cle of divi­ne inter­ven­ti­on, found a per­son who­se com­pa­ny was more valu­able to me than that of anyo­ne else in the world. Such hap­pi­ness was dan­ge­rous pre­cise­ly becau­se it was so lacking in self-suf­fi­ci­ent per­ma­nence. Had I after mon­ths of steady labor pro­du­ced a sci­en­ti­fic for­mu­la that had rocked the world of mole­cu­lar bio­lo­gy, I would have had no qualms about accep­t­ing the hap­pi­ness that had ensued from such a dis­co­very. The dif­fi­cul­ty of accep­t­ing the hap­pi­ness Chloe repre­sen­ted came from my absence in the cau­sal pro­cess lea­ding to it, and hence my lack of con­trol over the hap­pi­ness-indu­cing ele­ment in my life. It see­med to have been arran­ged by the gods, and was hence accom­pa­nied by all the pri­mi­ti­ve fear of divi­ne retribution.

“All of man’s unhap­pi­ness comes from an ina­bi­li­ty to stay in his room alo­ne,” said Pas­cal, advo­ca­ting a need for man to build up his own resour­ces over and against a debi­li­ta­ting depen­dence on the social sphe­re. But how could this pos­si­b­ly be achie­ved in love? Proust tells the sto­ry of Moham­med II, who, sen­sing that he was fal­ling in love with one of the wives in his harem, at once had her kil­led becau­se he did not wish to live in spi­ri­tu­al bonda­ge to ano­t­her. Short of this approach, I had long ago given up hope of achie­ving self-suf­fi­ci­en­cy. I had gone out of my room, and begun to love ano­t­her – ther­eby taking on the risk inse­pa­ra­ble from basing one’s life around ano­t­her human being.
(Alain de Bot­ton – On Love)

The dif­fi­cul­ty of a decla­ra­ti­on of love opens up qua­si-phi­lo­so­phi­cal con­cerns about lan­guage. (…) The words were the most ambi­guous in the lan­guage, becau­se the things they refer­red to so sorely lacked sta­ble mea­ning. Cer­tain­ly tra­velers had retur­ned from the heart and tried to repre­sent what they had seen, but love was in the end like a spe­ci­es of rare colo­red but­ter­fly, often sigh­ted, but never con­clu­si­ve­ly identified.

The thought was a lonely one: of the error one may find over a sin­gle word, an argu­ment not for lin­gu­is­tic pedants but of despe­ra­te impor­t­ance to lovers who need to make them­sel­ves unders­tood. Chloe and I could both speak of being in love, and yet this love might mean signi­fi­cant­ly dif­fe­rent things wit­hin each of us. We had often read the same books at night in the same bed, and later rea­li­zed that they had touched us in dif­fe­rent pla­ces: that they had been dif­fe­rent books for each of us. Might the same diver­gence not occur over a sin­gle love-line?

She real­ly was ado­rable (thought the lover, a most unre­li­able wit­ness in such mat­ters). But how could I tell her so in a way that would sug­gest the dis­tinc­ti­ve natu­re of my attrac­tion? Words like “love” or “devo­ti­on” or “inf­a­tua­ti­on” were exhaus­ted by the weight of suc­ces­si­ve love sto­ries, by the lay­ers impo­sed on them through the uses of others. At the moment when I most wan­ted lan­guage to be ori­gi­nal, per­so­nal, and com­ple­te­ly pri­va­te, I came up against the irre­vo­ca­b­ly public natu­re of emo­tio­nal language.

The­re see­med to be no way to trans­port “love” in the word L‑O-V‑E, without at the same time thro­wing the most banal asso­cia­ti­ons into the bas­ket. The word was too rich in for­eign histo­ry: ever­ything from the Trou­ba­dours to Casa­blan­ca had cas­hed in on the let­ters. Was it not my duty to be the aut­hor of my feelings?

Then I noti­ced a small pla­te of com­pli­men­ta­ry mar­sh­mal­lows near Chloe’s elbow and it sud­den­ly see­med clear that I did­n’t love Chloe so much as mar­sh­mal­low her. (…) Even more inex­pli­ca­b­ly, when I took Chloe’s hand and told her that I had some­thing very important to tell her, that I mar­sh­mal­lo­wed her, she see­med to under­stand per­fect­ly, ans­we­ring that it was the swee­test thing anyo­ne had ever told her.
(Alain de Bot­ton – On Love)

When we look at someo­ne (an angel) from a posi­ti­on of unre­qui­ted love and ima­gi­ne the plea­su­res that being in hea­ven with them might bring us, we are pro­ne to over­look a signi­fi­cant dan­ger: how soon their attrac­tions might pale if they began to love us back. We fall in love becau­se we long to escape from our­sel­ves with someo­ne as ide­al as we are cor­rupt. But what if such a being were one day to turn around and love us back? We can only be sho­cked. How could they be as divi­ne as we had hoped when they have the bad tas­te to appro­ve of someo­ne like us? If in order to love we must belie­ve that the beloved sur­pas­ses us in some way, does not a cru­el para­dox emer­ge when we wit­ness this love retur­ned? “If s/he real­ly is so won­der­ful, how could s/he love someo­ne like me?”
(Alain de Bot­ton – On Love)