Beyond the social order

Simone

We are herd creatures, who tend to think and behave in conformity with the prejudices of the masses. Plato called the admiration of the masses the Great Beast. The philosopher Simon Weil, in Gravity and Grace, wrote that this evil beast, the collective, is the object of all idolatry, is what chains and binds us to earth. In the case of avarice: gold is of the social order. In the case of ambition: power is of the social order. Science and art too are steeped in the social element, Weil wrote. “And love? Love is more or less the exception: that is why we can go to God through love, not through avarice and ambition.”

 

Almost everything we do is done within the social order. Love, in its pure sense, is one of our only opportunities to transcend this order, to be who we are. It is the most intimate act and therefore also the most anarchic. The place where any convention, norm or demand could be abolished. The search for truth and goodness is always personal. And so is love.

RolandBarthes

Roland Barthes wrote about the ability of love to be enclosed within itself, independent and uninfluenced by anything external: “I inhabit no other space but the amorous duel: not an atom outside, hence not an atom of gregarity: I am crazy, not because I am original (a crude ruse of conformity), but because I am severed from all sociality.” One could say that the lover is closer than anyone else to the mystics of antiquity, who have cut themselves off from any religious or social establishment, not confronting or contesting. Barth wrote: “quite simply, I have no dialogue with the instruments of power, of thought, of knowledge, of action … I belong to no repertoire, participate in no asylum.” The true lover does not belong to any broad discourse, be it psychological, religious, Marxist. He has no philosophical system to belong to. He is completely cut off, and goes beyond any existing order. He overcame the great beast.

 

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A good-enough lover

winnicott.jpg
Good-enough analyst

The basis of our love we usually acquire already as toddlers. The way we were loved in our early days shapes the way we will love, or the way we will wish not to love, as adults. The psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott wrote that the baby of what he called a “good-enough mother” – when he looks at her he sees himself, for she looks at him. A baby of a mother who is not “good-enough” sees her, because she is busy with herself, her mood, etc.

The same is true in romantic relationships. A true lover always sees the beloved. “The man who falls in love with beauty is different from the man who loves a girl and feels she is beautiful and can see what is beautiful about her,” Winnicott wrote. llove is finding the beauty of the beloved, which means seeing the beloved, and not seeing-myself, seeing my tastes, my desires. The good-enough lover sees his beloved, her needs, her weaknesses, her talents, her looks, and loves them, because he loves her, and does not love her because he loves them.

Kierkegaard wrote: “It is a sad upside-downness, which, however, is altogether too common, to talk on and on about how the object of love should be in order to be lovable enough, instead of talking about how love should be in order that it can love.” When we love, we always love the person, not his qualities. “He who loves the perfections he sees in a person does not see the person and therefore ceases to love when the perfections cease, when change steps in.”

the good-enough lover realizes