Monday, February 28, 2005

The Tyranny of Love


Blogger Zenslinger said...

I couldn't agree more. The tyranny of love is non-existent, just a myth.

Or...or are you saying that the tyranny of love is so absolute that there's simply nothing you can say when faced with it?

11:46 AM  
Blogger mpho said...

Exactly--bravo! I'd say it's an "either/or" and also an "and." I mean look, even if it does exist, what could I possibly say about it? I have no more expertise than anyone else who has suffered from the malady, whether it's real or imaginary. And what's to say about it? Absolutely nada. Someone always loves someone more or less than the other and often both people suffer. Or if you love someone you're supposed to set them free, and if they love you they're supposed to come back (which begs the question of why leave in the first place), and when they do it's possible it's too late. Or things get convoluted in myriads of ways, sometimes for no discernable reason, which is appropo since sometimes people connect for no discernable reason. Then even if you don't believe it was just pheromones or a fluke or fate or any of the other reasons we pupport to fall in love--habit for example--the truth is that often times it sucks. I'm not saying it always sucks, but it does more often than many of us would prefer. And the ultimate insult is that often the only salve is another love. But if I'd said all that (and everything else I'm thinking about it) I would have sounded bitter and jaded, whereas by simply stating "the tyranny of love" and nothing more I perhaps sounded more poetic and knew I'd find an understanding party from amongst you. Bless you Zenslinger, for you have understood my pain. ;)

7:09 AM  
Blogger Zenslinger said...

Well, it's nice to be blessed for doing something other than sneezing.

My comment was a more calculated play than it might seem. At first I thought you had just made a mistake in trying to post something, and posted nothing. And I thought about leaving the comment as a wise-ass kind of thing. But then I reconsidered, and left the comment anyway.

Your own comment on the nothingness of the tyranny of love is so utterly the view of a single woman. You may or may not be alone romantically, but you're still thinking single. This is not a criticism; rather, it’s a long-distance call. Our ways of thinking about these matters is more divergent than I anticipated before going over to the other side. I have been married for only five months but I'm already losing my ability to feel your pain.

My brother was moaning recently about traveling for work and told me, "At least you have a [i]life[/i]." And, given how my weekends have been spent refining the object of our new mortgage to often strict uxorial standards, I said before I could stop myself, "Life? I've enslaved myself to a [i]madwoman[/i]."

I was trying to tell him to enjoy the good things about being single, and the words came out a little strong. He may have just heard, "At least you can sleep with whoever you want." But that wasn't really it.

For single and married (or otherwise mortally committed) people to talk about love is akin to speaking different languages. Mpho writes about the self-damning and seemingly inarguable maxim of single romancing: that one is always more into it than the other. For the married, it's different. I read somewhere recently (and I don't remember the source so it's a paraphrase), "Hanging around with couples drives me up the wall, because it's always either that one completely dominates the other, or that they fight constantly." Sounds awful, but in making a life together, it’s hard to deny that you're often faced with the choice of either giving in or baring your teeth.

So, the fear is not so much getting “hurt” as it is for the single person. The fear is being [i]crushed[/i]. Or mashed, mashed into the other person too thoroughly, so that you lose yourself in the new bionic organism. Single people will envy this creature and be a little nauseated, both with some reason. The new organism’s strength and stability are indeed enviable, but it can’t turn on a dime, even when one of its halves tries to. If life is an obstacle course out of one of the basic training comedies of the Eighties, imagine having to run the course as a sack race. Maybe that’s why the Marines won’t let a husband and wife enlist as a unit. Of course, they don’t let any committed couples join, but that’s a twice-told tale.

As different as these views are, they are both neatly encompassed by the notion of the tyranny of love, about which it turns out there is plenty to say. We may as well remember that dread maxims about love’s inequality and its inevitability of power struggles within it are only one side of the coin. The other side is the reason we are motivated to hurl ourselves toward love: it is good. The part of us that knows this knows it without question.

1:36 PM  
Blogger mpho said...

Talk about slinging some zen. This is sheer poetry and speaks to me as if a light within a long and distant tunnel. We're funny creatures, ain't we? "The other side is the reason we are motivated to hurl ourselves toward love: it is good. The part of us that knows this knows it without question." The way you said it makes it sound like it's true. I also love your use of the term "mashed," which promptly conjured a reminiscence of that fear within myself. Thanks for offering a different perspective. I hope I remember it next time I decide to take the plunge.

11:30 PM  

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