Partial


I should be sleeping -- exhausted after a lovely day spent with my cousins (two incredibly energetic children and their father). We visited the Vancouver Aquarium, hiked through Stanley Park, and had some delicious meals. Of course my day didn't end when they went back to their hotel to sleep -- I had four hours of Davidson to read -- 'Radical Interpretation' and an initial glance at my reading on the Stoics.

But I can't sleep now for there's been an idea turning about in my head -- an anatomy of love, an annihilation of love. Last night I returned to some of the Posthumous Papers from Musil (I'm also re-reading 'The Perfecting of a Love'), and I found so much.

First, I wonder whether Agathe and Ulrich are the embodiment of the Aristophanic lovers who, after being separated as a punishment for their strength and power, wander the world lost and in search of their completion. When they find one another, they long to be fused into one -- not through a mere simulation of fusion, but the true completion. Aristophanes says (this is all from the Symposium) that if Hephaestus were to come to these lovers and ask them if they would like him to join them together -- as two metals alloyed are made stronger than they would have ever been singly -- the lovers would have to reply that such a complete fusion would be their greatest wish.

Of course, Aristophanes never hints that such a fusion is possible, rather, love seems to be one sort of misery or another -- either you wander forever searching, or you spend your life with your lost half, forever simulating a fusion that will never come to be.

Ulrich says --

But look, if you do have to love someone the way you love yourself, however much you love him it really remains a self-deceiving lie, because you simply can't feel along with him how his head or his finger hurts. It is absolutely unbearable that one really can't be part of a person one loves, and it's an absolutely simple thing. That's the way the world is organized. We wear our animal skin with the hair inside and cannot shake it out. And this horror within the tenderness, this nightmare of coming to a standstill in getting close to one another, is something that the people who are conventionally correct, the 'let's be precise' people, never experience. What they call their empathy is actually a substitute for it, which they use to make sure they didn't miss anything!

The connections with the Symposium are quite surficial (Diotima is a character, etc), but I didn't have that dialogue in mind when I read this, and would need to go through it all again to see what can be found. And all the characters have different ideas of love, and Ulrich himself is always revising what he believes it to be.

So many directions to go in from here -- but I'm not interested in the conventional notions. The Symposium returns again -- love as reproduction, both in mind and in body -- as necessarily doomed (more to say there), as always outstripping its intentions and foolishly estimating its accomplishments. The roles of lover and beloved -- they demand the maintenance of such a strong narrative force, stronger than the force needed to maintain the self. (questionable).

Many directions, and a lacily incomplete set of notes and thoughts.