This Paradox of Love – A book

I’m reading The Paradox of Love by Pascal Bruckner (translated by Steven Rendall). I’m not finished, but I want to post a few quotes from the book. It is interesting, well written, and the translation is solid. I’m reading it as research for writing more about the paradox of love as a topic.

Bruckner’s take on how we got from where our ancestors were to where we are with male-female relationships is informative. I should have known. His commentary on, and experience with, the sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s is interesting (Bruckner is French), but not one I shared.

“Sexual liberation became the most common way of getting in contact with the extraordinary; every morning we reinvented our lives….”

For those of us who may recall some of that time, he asks, “What put an end to this euphoria?” He explains, “We knew only one season in life: eternal youth. Life played a terrible trick on us: we got old.”

He has much more to say; quotes from the book follow.

Regarding the concept of free love, he asks, “How can love, which attaches, be compatible with freedom, which separates?”

Here’s more. These are taken from the introduction:

“Our freedom in love was won in battle at a price that remains to be determined. (Someday the “black book” of the 1960s will have to be written.) Freedom does not release us from responsibilities but instead increases them…It resolves problems less than it multiplies paradoxes…This burden explains in part why contemporary romances are so hard.”

“A paradoxical result: we now ask everything from love; we ask too much of it; we ask that it ravish, ravage, and redeem us…Christianity’s invention of the God of love has made the virtue of love the cardinal value of life…By liberating itself, it reveals itself for what it is, in its flashes of brilliance and in its pettiness: noble and base at the same time.”

Bruckner quotes from Les aventures de Télémaque, by Fénelon, an early 18th Century French novel, “love alone is more to be feared than all shipwrecks.” I like the quote. However, in the world today, it’s blatantly false.

The paradox I promote is that today we would rather suffer the potential pains of love, than to not experience love. And, we seem to keep going back for more. This may seem crazy, but it’s the eventual norm.

I like the chapter title: “Salvation through Orgasm.” I am quoting way out of context here, but along with equating the Aurora Borealis as nothing other than a cosmic orgasm, he says this “…like grace for the Calvinists, the orgasm is the narrow gate to redemption.” You always knew that, right?

Try this: “Depending on whether or not you have an orgasm, the Earth will slip into harmony or into discord: Fourier had already drawn an analogy between human copulation and that of the planets, and saw in the Milky Way an immense deposit of luminous semen. If humans made love more enthusiastically, they would give birth to a multitude of galaxies that would illuminate the planet a giorno [roughly, everywhere] and would solve the lighting problem at small expense.”

I shall never see the night sky in quite the same way again.

A few more like that before moving on: “An erection is an insurrection, the body in emotional turmoil…desire is profoundly moral…Coitus is simultaneously a rebellion against society and the culmination of human nature.”

Ok, enough blushing stuff. Bruckner is right in that it would be an obvious dodge to discuss love between men and woman with no reference to sex. Blame Pascal or the translator, I am only quoting. And cherry-picking.

Here is something that I consider more useful: “…but there comes a time when we have to take the risk of a relationship to the other that will upset our expectations and free us from the dreary conversation with ourselves. Independence is not the last word for people—that is what we are told by the love that has a blind faith in the other: that is why the worst misfortune on earth is the death of the few people who are dear to us and without whom life no longer has meaning or savor.”

And this, “If there is a modern dream (old as the hills but widely shared today), it consists entirely in the twofold aspiration: to enjoy symbiosis with the other while at the same time remaining master of one’s own life.” A dream indeed. Don’t we give up something of ourselves in every relationship?

I agree with, “Love is an experience we don’t want to forego, on the condition that it not deprive us of any other experience.” People in relationships with extremely controlling others might have something to say about this. I would argue that some of us are often willing to be deprived to a degree, perhaps even to submit to a more dominant and demanding love – even a forbidden love.

Regarding the conflict of the old ways of love with new: “Whether we like it or not, to fall in love is to slip back into an ancient, magical humus, to revive childhood fears, excessive hopes, and a mixture of servitude and cruelty. Without this permanence, how could we still read The Princess of Cleves, Liaisons of dangereuses, The Sufferings of Young Werther, Wuthering Heights, Cousin Bette, Madame Bovary, or In Search of Lost Time?

And I like, “Moderns are stupefied to find that love is not always lovable, that it does not coincide with justice or equality, that it is a feudal, antidemocratic passion.”

That much is from only the Introduction and Chapter One. There is much more. I’m over my personal word limit. So, I’ll close with a quote from the beginning of Chapter 4, “The Noble Challenge of Marriage for Love.”

This Bruckner quoted from the website Viedemer-de.fr, 2008:

Today, I received two text messages from my girlfriend. The first to tell me that it was all over, the second to tell me that she had sent the message to the wrong address.

As you look both ways in life, mind the gaps.
But love! Crash and burn.
Then get up and love again. Feel the paradox.

Z – Zymurgy Blessings (NaPoWriMo #30)

Zymurgy (zy-mur-gy; zī mәr jē) is chemistry that deals with the fermentation processes (as in wine making or brewing), There are zymurgy clubs around America, a brew pub called Zymurgy in Torrance, CA, and even a magazine called Zymurgy. It’s a fancy word for something we didn’t know we had a fancy word for. In words like this, experts, specialists, and aficionados find each other.

 

 ***

A toast to the Grog
By Bill Reynolds

Hold your drink high as we all salute,
Stand proud and tall as you toast our success.
Long we have toiled to blog the last dribble,
To the craft of zymurgy, my final tribute.

To the blessings of grog from the art of the craft,
I brought you my twaddle, the sweet and the daft,
With creative support of that spirited guest,
I sent you my poems, the poor and the best.

From the wine to the beer,
The ferment and brew,
The stout and the red
Went straight to my head.

My thanks to my readers,
Both critics and lovers,
And for the crafters of zymurgy to brew,
Grateful to all, I am thanking you too.

***

Wine to the left, beer on the right,
Look both ways and have a great night.
Of the gaps be mindful, it’s been so delightful.

X – Xu and the Gong (NaPoWriMo #28)

Why do we have x-words, if they sound like they start with z? I’ve discovered the word formerly used to denote a Vietnamese sum of money. The xu (pronounced soo, as in moo, you, or too) is one-hundredth of a dong. Can you see where I went with this? Enjoy!

***

A Xu for You
by Bill Reynolds

I found a lucky Xu
I wanna give it to you.
Ninety-nine more, you kin get a dong.
What’s wrong? Duncha wanna a dong?

With yer dong, ya can get along.
That’s right. You can have a long dong.
A long dong with a song, all…
For a measly, simple xu.

So, wacha gunna do?
First a xu, then a dong.
With yer dong, get a gong.
Bang a gong with yer dong!

So, let’s sing the song,
Let’s bang the gong
You got a dong, so…
Let’s get it on.

***

 

 

Look both ways, then sing the song and bang the gong.
Let’s get it on, but mind the gap in yer dong when you sing the song.

V – Vexfest: Different Stereotype (NaPoWriMo #26)

I sort of got the idea for this from another A to Z blogger, Sandra of What Sandra Thinks, specifically her Bitchfest 2017, where she adds “special touches of sarcasm, darkness and foul language.” Since I find her humor refreshing, I decided to take a similar, but more serious, path.

Vexations create a state of being annoyed or frustrated. I confess that during my life I’ve been guilty of many of the things I find vexing. My greatest frustration may be my own human condition. We have many words devoted to being pissed off. I am not the only one.

***

Vexatious Me
by Bill Reynolds

With all the natural evil that be,
I am most troubled by
The moral evils that I see
Placed peeps on peeps. I’m vexed and…

Affronted by unfair stereotyping,
Aggravated by sense of entitlement,
Angered by any amount of animal abuse.
Annoyed by the foolishness of youth,
Bugged by too much welfare abuse,
Bent out of shape by all the bullies,
Disgruntled by job discriminations.
Displeased with wasting time, including mine.
Embittered by lost love.

Enraged by abuse toward women.
Exasperated by flawed governance.

Frustrated by incompetence, especially mine,
Furious over child abuse, anywhere, any time.

Indignant over unjust justice.
Infuriated by big black lies, also
Irked by little white ones.

Irritated by misunderstandings and
Miffed by gossip for fun and pleasure.
Offended by those too sensitive,
Outraged by starving children.
Peeved by human weaknesses, yet
Piqued by those better than I.
Pissed off when treated unfairly, and

Riled by my own pride.

Worried that nothing will change.

***

I failed to mention other drivers (texters, Beemer drivers, and Mercedes too), the wealthy, other people’s kids and dogs, and the folks who work at the driving license places in virtually every state. Also, virtually anyone who disagrees with me about nearly anything at all. And then there are people who are more vexatious than I.

Relax and go with the flow. We’re only human,
but let’s look both ways to enjoy the view.
Mind the gaps my friends, lest you get too twisted.

 

Sunday Lions (NaPoWriMo #23)

My Lion Friend

***

Sunday Lions
by Bill Reynolds

*

I’ve never met a lion,
Except in the zoo.
Never seen a lion,
It’s in the photos that I do.
Never touched a lion,
Only in my dreams.
I never loved a lion,
But in my heart, it seems
Lions are my friends,
The ones I never knew.

***

Look both ways, mind the gaps, and love the animals.

Q – The Quiet Man’s Poem (NaPoWriMo #20)

I get it.

Quiet Man’s Poem
by Bill Reynolds

First as a child, then as a boy
No shy child as many would ploy.
Silence in me is part of my nature.
Spoken words etch not my portraiture.

My teen years of silence, not taken a joke,
Was the indication of a challenge to bear.

More words to share, growing older I spoke.
Mostly not words they wanted to hear.

Others wanted to know why ‘twas I
Who made less noise than they did cry.
My smile never inquired just why,
“Of all talkin’, ya never was tired?”

Small talk they called it, noise without brains.
Not shy, in silence, I’m quietly plotting
Demise and disposal of whatever remains.

Now older, and less quiet I’ll be,
I listens and sez the damnedest of things.
Have it your way, but please try to see,
I can make stop those annoying rings.

Contemplate me
as you pass through yer day.
Most of the time,
I simply have nothing to say.

 

Listen quietly when you can,
mind unheard gaps,
and look both ways.

Click on the photo to watch a funny scene from a the movie, The Quiet Man.

Scene from movie, The Quiet Man, staring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara

O – Onomatopoeia (NaPoWriMo #18) Never Again

Years ago, I packed in over several nights, with a backpacking group near Truckee, CA, north of Donner Pass. We were at approximately 7,000 feet elevation in the Sierra Mountains between Sacramento, CA and Reno, NV. It was a very exciting trip.

A year afterward, I planned to repeat as a day-hike in with a friend. After he backed out, I decided to go it alone. I ended up going later than I should, and was unprepared for what I encountered. For my foolishness, I paid the price with months of back damage and pain. I can almost laugh about it now – almost. It was also exciting, but in a very different way.

Onomatopoeia is the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named, such as cuckoo or sizzle. It is also used for rhetorical effect, as in this poem.

 

Never Again
by Bill Reynolds

High Sierra beauty.
No food. No drink. No sense!
What plan? Quick in, then back out.
Whoosh. Like the wind. Time passed

Boink. Suddenly, it’s late.
Dusk. ARGH! Gotta get out.
Before dark. Oh no: It’s feckin’ dark!
No moon, no map. Had a lighter. Zip.

Oh, shit. Muddled.
Not one essential, much less ten.
No flashlight! Groan. Why?
Thinking? Stoopid. Grrrr to self.
Clatter climb rocks. Get out. Fast. It’s Dark.

Thump. Crunch. I fell, no moon. Ark!
Did I say, “It’s dark?”
Crunch. Footsteps. Are they mine?
Can’t see. Bonk. Oof! Pain.
F-word, again. No better.
I keep swearing, like it’s gunna help.
Bam. Step in hole. Crunch. Knocked out breath.

Shocked. Confused. Must see but cannot.
Crackle, smack. Branch to my face. Blood. Ooze.
Buzz. Bugs? Crunch. Twisted ankle.
Scrape, bang, boom, bash. ACK! More pain.

Bonk. Fall on face. Dark. Hurt. Walk.
Pain. Bam. Oof! Again. What’d I step in?
Another hole. Whack, crunch.
Damn holes. Hiss. Oh god. A snake?

Hear something? More crackle.
What’s that? A clatter?
Get out. Fast. Don’t run. Too dark.
Bear? Mountain Lion?
Kill me? Eat me? Yikes. I’m so screwed.

Hoot. Owl. Danger.
Skunk. Whew. It stinks.
Careful. Out fast. Whiz? Crap!

I’m Cold. And wet. In pain.
Must pee. Yikes. Unzip.
Done. Relief. Don’t fall in it. Re-zip.
Ouch more. Get out. Don’t fall.
Boink. Thud. Head pain.

Scrunch, twist, whack.
Repeat. Fear. Repeat. Dumb me.
How far? How long? Lost?
Alone. Clatter. Alone?
What was I Thinking?

Break free. Find car! Keys?
Oh no. No keys. Groan. Swear.
Hidden key. Found it.
Brrrrr. Shaking. I am very cold.

Tall grass. Kerplunk. Dropped key.
Damnit, can’t see. Cold. Pain.
Sore knees, search the ground.
Feel in dirt, no gloves. I found it. Clatter to feet.
Hold tight. Screech. I scratched car, then swear.

Bang. Slam door. Varoom.
Start engine. Get out. Cuckoo.
Oof over bumps. Drive. Find my brain.
Good trip. Nice day. Never again!

Bring a flashlight.
You can’t look either way, nor mind the gaps, if you can’t see.