Friday, April 10, 2009

Relational Blah

I hope quoting long-ish passages won't become a major pattern for me. Sometimes, when I'm stunned by some amazing thing I've read, I can't help but share it. So it is with this passage from The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford:
"With regard to man, a love affair, a love for any definite woman--is something in the nature of a widening of the experience...A turn of the eyebrow, a tone of the voice, a queer characteristic gesture--all these things, and it is these things that cause to arise the passion of love--all these things are like so many objects on the horizon of the landscape that tempt a man to walk beyond the horizon, to explore. He wants to get, as it were, behind those eyebrows with the peculiar turn, as if he desired to see the world with the eyes that they overshadow. He wants to hear that voice applying itself to every possible proposition, to every possible topic; he wants to see those characteristic gestures against every possible background...The real fierceness of desire, the real heat of a passion long continued and withering up the soul of a man is the craving for identity with the woman that he loves. He desires to see with the same eyes, to touch with the same sense of touch, to hear with the same ears, to lose his identity, to be enveloped, to be supported. For, whatever may be said of the relation of the sexes, there is no man who loves a woman that does not desire to come to her for the renewal of his courage, for the cutting asunder of his difficulties. And that will be the mainspring of his desire for her. We are all so afraid, we are all so alone, we all so need from the outside the assurance of our own worthiness to exist.

So, for a time, if such a passion come to fruition, the man will get what he wants. He will get the moral support, the encouragement, the relief from the sense of loneliness, the assurance of his own worth. But these things pass away; inevitably they pass away as the shadows pass across sundials. It is sad, but it is so. The pages of the book will become familiar; the beautiful corner of the road will have been turned too many times. Well, this is the saddest story

...For every man there comes at last a time of life when the woman who then sets her seal upon his imagination has set her seal for good. He will travel over no more horizons; he will never again set the knapsack over his shoulders; he will retire from those scenes. He will have gone out of the business."
I've found myself dwelling on these thoughts a lot in the past couple weeks. I'm not sure if I agree with the idea that a woman is so central to a man's sense of worth. If so, should it be? Isn't this a description of some kind of codependent relationship? Even if it is, maybe it's the best that can be hoped for. Or maybe it's a generational concept that has receded into the past; this novel was written in 1915. Perhaps men and women relate in a totally different way in 2009.

I don't really know. I admit, though, that as weak as it might make me seem, I feel the burden of Ford's words:
"We are all so afraid, we are all so alone, we all so need from the outside the assurance of our own worthiness to exist."

No comments:

Post a Comment