Posted by: terrapraeta | January 25, 2008

Deconstructing Eros


catch me if i fall i’m losing hold
i can’t just carry on this way
and every time i turn away
lose another blind game
the idea of perfection holds me…
suddenly i see you change everything at once
the same but the mountain never moves…

The Cure, Faith

A few months back I started this blog with a series of posts on eros, philia, and agape. After all , I did not chose the name at random: in my mind all of the things I talk about here will eventually tie back to those three manifestations of love. No really. You’ll just have to stick with me for a while to get the full puzzle laid out and put together.

In any case, I started with eros and philia, suggesting that these were fundamentally the same thing, a scale of feelings between people anywhere from friendship to what we call ‘romantic love’ and I consider, basically, an expression of philia expanded into something more complex but still the same.

I’ve had a lot of occasion to reconsider this over the past months and I am trying to decide if I still find that explanation satisfactory. I certainly believe that part of eros is philia expanded. But is that all of it? Is it just philia with sex? Perhaps I was too quick to judge that, or too eager to downplay eros. By suggesting that it was not something special I could then assert polyamory as no big deal.

But it is a big deal, isn’t it? Even if we, as human persons, can find lifestyles that are conducive of and accepting toward polyamory, does that make the experience of eros less? Perhaps, at heart, I wanted to eliminate the validity of jealousy by asserting that it was only our twisted cultural assumptions that made it so extreme in this world where the physical/evolutionary need for jealousy has faded. But in the process I also downplayed the exceptionalism and beauty of eros itself.

Once upon a time – really only a few months ago – I told my honey that I was not sure that eros was a real thing. Shortly thereafter, I wrote the article that started this blog. If I am to be fully honest, I think that on some level I was trying to spare him pain. I don’t think that feelings of true eros ever fade. Or at least for me, they never have. I cannot imagine the experience of ‘falling out of love’ that people talk about. I can only assume that if one falls out of love, then really, she was never in love to begin with.

One Guy (link expired) has been writing, recently, about his onegirl and her ex: about his confusion over how to relate to her feelings about the ex and how to reconcile that with his rational beliefs. How many others have tried to address this? Our culture tells us that it cannot happen, but they are not the first to step outside the bounds of social propriety, so it must have been addressed by others. Unfortunately, since it is outside those boundaries, it is only rarely discussed in any sort of public forum

We are defined by the love in our hearts: by the relationships and the interactions those relationships engender. When our love is conflicted, how does one reconcile it? I think that is a question that somehow, we need to answer. Do we deny our feelings, choose to set aside feelings that are part of what make us who we are, in the interest of one love? Is that truly possible to do, or is it a form of repression, that in the end, could come back to destroy us? Do we embrace the love itself, while denying all of the other attendant desires? Again, is that truly possible, or is it a recipe for future betrayal? Is it possible to maintain both loves with all that this entails? I think that this is possible, if two people together find love with another. But when it is lopsided, when it is one who loves and another does not, can not or will not, is there any way to hold it together?

I don’t have answers for these questions right now. But perhaps, this is the most important series of questions I will ever ask and attempt to answer. All else is merely window dressing on our soul*.

*If you have been reading for a while, you know that I do not believe in the mind/body, physical/spiritual duality. So this is meant with a dose of poetic license: it is all of the components of our persons that make us who we are, unique and special: that which makes eros possible.

(Originally Posted November 9, 2006) 

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