is love just imagination?

I was listening to some classical music on my local classical station on the way in to work today, and one song was said to have been composed for a play about a sculpture who fell in love with his statue. After some googling, I think this is Pygmalion, in Greek mythology.

This made me wonder how one could fall in love with a statue. Can one really feel love just from how someone (or, thing) looks? Human’s have great imaginations though. We fall in love with people we haven’t even met by imagining personalities for them based on how they talk or smile or walk or laugh. I suppose it’s not much further a step to fall in love with a completely imagined person who you only know of from an image.

Any kind of love takes a bit of imagination, though… the way someone acts or talks or words they say can be taken many ways. Do we  interpret someones actions in a positive light because we love them, or do we love them because we choose to interpret their words and actions positively?

Maybe we imagine the things we love about real people, too…

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King, Queen, Knave, by Vladimir Nabokov

This fun, funny, and darkly interesting novel is another masterpiece in the seemingly endless line of masterpieces from Nabokov.

This book has made me decide that I will no longer listen to any Nabokov books, and will read them all instead, because I am endlessly wanting to highlight things.

This story is about a woman’s affair with her nephew, Franz, and her husband, Dreyer’s, blissful ignorance of her, the nephew, and anyone’s needs or desires or thoughts other than his own. It’s about the Franz’s, inability to make decisions on his own, and his increasingly autonomous life. It’s about the woman, Martha’s, greed and distaste for her husband that consumers her both literally and metaphorically.

It’s also about the delicious, lyrical, humorous prose that always shines in every Nabokov novel I’ve had the pleasure of perusing.

So excited that I’ve got more Nabokov in my future…

Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders

Love, death, ghosts, and history. What a sad, funny, interesting and heart-squeezing novel.

From Wikipedia:

Many years ago, during a visit to Washington DC, my wife’s cousin pointed out to us a crypt on a hill and mentioned that, in 1862, while Abraham Lincoln was president, his beloved son, Willie, died, and was temporarily interred in that crypt, and that the grief-stricken Lincoln had, according to the newspapers of the day, entered the crypt “on several occasions” to hold the boy’s body. An image spontaneously leapt into my mind – a melding of the Lincoln Memorial and the Pietà. I carried that image around for the next 20-odd years, too scared to try something that seemed so profound, and then finally, in 2012, noticing that I wasn’t getting any younger, not wanting to be the guy whose own gravestone would read “Afraid to Embark on Scary Artistic Project He Desperately Longed to Attempt”, decided to take a run at it, in exploratory fashion, no commitments. My novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, is the result of that attempt […].[10]

What must that feel like… to not only finally complete a project you’ve been thinking about for decades, but to also have it be so acclaimed?

I hope he feels proud, because it is great. I never would have though a book written in such a strange way could evoke such strong feelings, but it does. After a few pages of it, you don’t notice the strangeness as much. Or, you do, but it is no longer a hindrance. It blends into the feeling of it. The idea of dozens or hundreds of viewpoints coalescing into a single story of a single night.

I think anyone with an open mind could enjoy this book. The only people I’ve seen saying bad things about it are just complaining about the way it’s written, not what’s written.

The only minor complaint I had was how short it was. The 360 or so pages it claims would actually be probably half that, if each page were covered with words instead of having them spread out as it is formatted.

Read if you want something fresh and interesting and heartfelt!

Finding Frances

The feature length finale of the Comedy Central series ‘Nathan For You’ takes an amazing melancholy turn, when Nathan decides to use the show’s resources to find Bill Heath’s (the Bill Gates impersonator from previous episodes) long lost love.

Though still full of the same comedic flavor that Nathan is famous for, this is a heart wrenching documentary about a man that could not let go of the past.

Bill, now 76 years old, never married, and never had children, has spent his life always wondering what happened to his young love Frances, last seen over 50 years ago. Though it is never stated directly, it is implied that he never married or had children because he was always hoping to find her. Early in the episode we get many clips of him reminiscing about her, always saying ‘I should have married her.’

Nathan takes it on himself to help Bill find Frances, using ridiculous, roundabout tactics that will be familiar to fans of the show. But always present between the comedy is a thick vein of longing, and it will creep under your skin and leave your heart aching.

What kind of love must one feel to still wonder about someone from half a century past? What kind of emotions could prevent a person from moving on after so much time? The relationship of Bill and Frances is startlingly similar to that of Florintino and Fermina in Love in the Time of Cholera, except, as we find out during a heart squeezing scene where Bill reads through a box of old letters–Bill left Frances to pursue his career in acting, and regretted it ever since.

I won’t spoil the end, but as the episode progresses and Nathan finds more and more information about Frances, it becomes clear that Bill has held some kind of frozen image of her in his mind, a version of her trapped in amber and unchanging as the decades rolled by.

Is this how all love works? A first impression of overwhelming emotion seared into the brain, unable to be overwritten no matter what else happens with or because of that person. Do we have any choice but to cling to that moment when everything was perfect and amazing, despite all that has changed? That irrationality and inability to accept change–or even perceive it in some cases–is part of what makes us human…

The end of this episode left me with a surreal feeling of the gulf of time that can separate two people–a feeling of melancholy for the past, like opening a time capsule full of childhood mementos, or finding an old love letter in your attic.

This episode was better produced, and miles more meaningful than 90% of Hollywood movies today. Even if you’re not familiar with the show, and don’t care for absurdist/awkward comedy– I would recommend watching this episode. It is heartfelt, real, and peeks at some secret aspect of being human that hides within all of us.

The Orville, Episode 9

In another somewhat dull episode of The Orville, all the crew members fall in love with each other. This one was more focused on humor and relationship stuff than real adventure or thoughtful things.

The blue alien that Kelly cheated on Ed with ends up on the ship as a forensic archaeologist, to determine which of two warring species has a true ancestral claim to a contested planet. While he’s on the ship, his hormones cause anyone he touches to fall in love with him–or anyone else he’s touched.

It was fun seeing Captain Mercer go all gaga for the guy he hated just moments ago, and the slime blob sex scene was interesting/messed up. But, there wasn’t much thought provoking–and yes I know it’s a comedy show, but it’s gotten its self a reputation to upkeep in my eyes!

Using the love pheramones to resolve the thousands of years old dispute was obvious and also silly. Though it was humorous seeing those two previously enraged enemies holding hands and googoo eyeing like teenage lovers, in reality after a few days when it wears off they’ll be even more pissed at each-other that it happened at all.

Still better than Discovery, though.

Red magic?

 

I’m using Lucent Dreaming‘s writing prompt, because I ran out of ideas today!

What is Red Magic? Red is associated with love, and anger… both closely related. Passionate feelings are given the color red. I wonder why that is? It could be because blood is red, and this primal fact, deep in our brains, causes the association of red with painful, or powerful feelings of life and death.

Fire is also red… and is given the same characteristics of love and anger… consuming, unstoppable, destructive, hot…

What would red magic be? Probably something that flung you into blind, passionate love, set your mind ablaze with a broiling rage, and set you on fire in actual flames, all at once.

Love in the Time of Cholera

This was the story of love between many people over a lifetime.

There were so many little nuggets of goodness in this novel that it’s hard to give a general idea of why I liked it. I loved the description of Florintino, and found a lot of myself in him. He was also laughable at times, though, with his ridiculous ideas of love and his determination that bordered on obsession.

I enjoyed the juxtaposition of youth and age, and how their views on love differed, but the views that others took of them remained the same–they were kept apart in their youth because they were too young, but in their old age, their families try to keep them apart because they are too old for love!

Fermina has a hard/hot headedness that Florintino refuses to give in to, and it is fun and emotional to read. He is a tireless, endless lover and you can’t help but cheer for him to keep trying.

The kind of love that lets you fall for someone in your youth, and then be unable to forget about them for fifty years, even when they never talk to you or even acknowledge your existence, is difficult to imagine. But Marquez does a great job of giving me an insight, and a hint at what that might feel like.