The Writing of the Disaster

You think twice.  You plan.  I do these things.

Finally incapable of mind over matter.  The capacity of drunkenness.  Full experience.

The body.  The lust and wanting.  The work to let it alone.  To surpass or supersede.

Supplant desire with will.

Language works with, on and in the body.  Larynx, lung, tongue and movement.  Gut, brain and blood.

Without satiating muscle.  Without exhausting the possibilities.  Without terminating lust.

I think twice.  I plan.  You do these things.

Intention.  Commitment.  Decision.

“I will transcend the body.  I will overcome desire.  I will compensate and supplant urges with verbs.  Consonants will become my flesh’s contact and content.  Interoperation with world will equate to traversing its languages.  To write will be my sexuality.  Language my intimate other.”

I will compose my satiation.  I will think my end.  I will language my undoing and completion.  I will create what I need.

Still the body rises.  Erects itself.  Rushes and longs.  Aches.

I rub language all over it.  Stroke it with breath and sounds.  Caress every part with a term.  Toy and pleasure each hollow and tense with tongued noise.

It wants.  It desires.  I want.  I desire.  I long for what it says without diction.


Be Drunk

Charles Baudelaire, 1821 – 1867

You have to be always drunk. That’s all there is to it—it’s the only way. So as not to feel the horrible burden of time that breaks your back and bends you to the earth, you have to be continually drunk.

But on what? Wine, poetry or virtue, as you wish. But be drunk.

And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace or the green grass of a ditch, in the mournful solitude of your room, you wake again, drunkenness already diminishing or gone, ask the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, everything that is flying, everything that is groaning, everything that is rolling, everything that is singing, everything that is speaking. . .ask what time it is and wind, wave, star, bird, clock will answer you: “It is time to be drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be continually drunk! On wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish.”

Language.  Alcohol.  Language.  Alcohol.  To void and satiate the body.  To provide full experience.  Pair satiating self.  Ache and desire.  Want and sensation.  As a whole – the desire to be drunk – to fulfill – saturation of pleasure and knowledge – perception/sensation and abstraction/thought – TO RESPOND.  Shower the body, challenge the mind.  Work the muscles.  Lingua the self.  Tickle with letters and edges; heat, fill, temper and calm  salve and sensitize the skin and organs – flood the whole: language and alcohol.  Avoid depending on kind, species, occasion.  Avoiding dependency.

How might an human organism satiate itself?

I dreamt language.  I imagined correspondence, intelligence, sexuality, the wide-openness of commerce between one human and another.  Particularity, difference, biology, culture, knowledge, capacity undoes this.  Incapacitates convergence.  Ruins union.

Intimacy with other = impossible.

Intimacy with self-system = ?

Language.  Alcohol.  Immaterial / Matter.  Body-mind.  Embodied mind.  Enminded body.  How solve desire?  Lust, want, biology, sociology, anthropology (and so on) – the logoi of BEING HUMAN.

Be wild and crazy and drunk with Love,

if you are too careful, Love will not find you.



Love depends on Other.  Love depends on converging, connection, call / response / return.  Love is impossible.  Cohesive mingling.

To say the unsayable.  The reach beyond.  The experiment, invention, imagine.  Commerce with species and kind, taking it in (language), absorbing and transforming seeds, spewing it out (language).  Giving / Giving Back.  Receiving / Offering.  Language – perfect intimacy seed.  Perfect contact and context differentiating and responding each to each, body to body, mind to mind… sans orgasm, sans drunkenness, sans satiety… regardless of ecstatic fullness.

This is the disaster.


Insatiable (body)

Satisfied mind.

This is the disaster.


Interstice – 6: the coupling

System Environment Coupling

– 6 –

And then the narrative runs away.  Nearly ever a mix of caffeinated alcohol, the disaster of stories unfolds.  We yield them occurrence in time.  Over time.  Across locations.  We do not make them this way, or rather, the making falsifies them so.  Their occurrence is now.  The moment of happen.  And the telling is here just as well.  The moment: reflect and create, concoct and remember.  The moment of happen, and never “again.”  “Re-“ is convenient, untrue.

Yet sometimes the rowdiness settles.  We arrange as a movement, install, and be/have.  Construct forms to obey.  She stumbled, or stuttered.  Appeared in a robe.  When it opened, she stayed.  For a while, as a present, be-coming, bright way.

Not undone.  No undoing – just fall shy.  Language requires alive telling, there to mean – intersection, Interstice: a coupling, a groove and a rhythm.  An inexact mirror, a multi-frame change.  She (you) and he (I), it (us).  Reciprocally linked and unstable, an active, dynamic exchange.

See the couple coupling.  A gruff and clumsy wrangle and tussle.  Huffs and spurts and clawing.  The heaving bodies appear to be taking, eyes lolling back in themselves – the necessary separateness, retaliation toward pleasure.  Bodies in command.  It’s grotesque.  Whoever’s on top is the rider, begun in devotion, become animal.  She seeks to please, retreats and surrenders, gives up and in to his thrusting.  He becomes tool for her desire, working herself to a frenzy he fears its hiatus, self-conscious, stripped of his surging in fear of mistake.  They work it out – a to and fro – back and forth – moving in, leaning back – never quite mated in psyche.

From inches of distance the movements are grueling.  A repetitive taking advantage.  These bodies have each other, these bodies desire, lust, demand, these bodies know what they want, what they need.  The fish flaps on dry ground.  In a terror.  A panic afraid that relief will not come.  Release.  In order to experience it fully, each gathers and turns in interior worlds – “this is happening, now – to me, to my body – I must be there for it to occur – entirely.”  But there is an other.  He/she senses the lover’s retreat.  The moment of most coveted convergence, conjunction.  They depart to their bodies while they clutch in their rigor.  Asynchrony.  What needs, needs its doing, is done.  Syncopated Interstice of the guttural grotesque…

From one angle.

See the couple coupling as animals.  The dog, the bear, the wolf.  The bird or bee or dragonfly.  The distance.  The unawares.  What if the lion leaned into the neck?  What if the squirrel caressed?  If the snakes lay entangled.  The cats licking flanks.  The stories would pour into morphing.  What have we seen?  During thrusts and grunts and contorted visage, he melted his nose in her hair, he inhaled and received.  Her hand trailed down his back, not in clenching but care, some tender aware, some giving.  His palms opened hot on each angle and curve, of the shoulder, the buttocks, the spine.  Knee kissed, ankle read by the fingers, mouths meeting again and again.  In the angelic grotesque of the bodies is consistently sewn something else.  Animals humping and huffing,  not by instinct alone, something more.  Intercourse – intersection – aural and visual, scent taste and touch.

In distinction, then, from the buffalo that he appeared to be.  From the feline receiving her guest.  There is more taking place through the need.  The senses talk back, they converse – speak and answer, and whisper / respond.  Bodies converging in dialogue.  Reciprocally linked and unstable, an active, dynamic exchange.  Suddenly the gruff and the klutzy seem streaming with gift and create.  The blind lust is perceiving; the grasp also heals; the smother mingles embrace.  What’s engulfed is also what’s offered.

We muster.  We glyph.  We resolve.  And solve again without solution.

Tangling a language of bodies – a coupling, a groove and a rhythm.

The narrative runs, a disaster of stories, the moment of happen is now.

The Lovers Encyclopedia: or, Notes Toward Unlimited Signs

Gilbert Quote

Notes on an Encyclopedia of Signs: or, Limited Vocabularies, Limitless Meanings

“Ever-newer waters flow on those who step into the same rivers.”

“All entities move and nothing remains still”

“Everything changes and nothing remains still … and … you cannot step twice into the same stream”

-Heraclitus of Ephesus-

“No man ever steps in the same river twice.”  No man ever steps the same into a river.  I believe that everyone, from time to time, aches to express what they mean.  We have experiences and we want to communicate them, and we experience a kind of veritable torment when nothing sounds, feels, expresses what we “mean” “quite right” (or adequately, authentically, completely, correctly).

How often this happens with joy, pleasure, desire, love.  There are 26 letters in the English alphabet.  We shuffle and arrange them, add and delete, realign and recompose, punctuate and intone, mark-up, highlight, capitalize, emphasize, crescendo/decrescendo, lilt, shout, whisper the sounds and shapes we have mediated them through in this wild, often urgent attempt to forge understanding BETWEEN, comprehension, connection… MEANINGS (whole-person exchanges) betwixt ourselves and others, and world.

Our bodies have limited surfaces.  Certain numbers of organs, neurons, veins, muscles – motions, sensations, pulses, breaths, hums and groans.  We TOUCH to forge BETWEEN.  Caresses, grasps, pushes, pulls and entanglings.  WE ACHE TO GET ACROSS – adequately, authentically, comprehensively, fully.

“I love this pizza.”  “I have never seen anything like this!”  “OMG – watch that sky as it changes, explodes, implodes, whirls, colors!”  “I have never experienced love like this.”  “You are the most beautiful person I’ve ever known.”  “This is my favorite song.”  “You are incomparable.”  “You are incomparable.”  Our experiences – each – are in some very real sense… INCOMPARABLE.

And space.  And time.  Matter and energy, or material / apparently immaterial.  Emotion and sensation.  Cognition and affect.  We are ALWAYS (all of us) stepping in the river, and the river is always (all of it) flowing.  EVERY instant is our constant moving IN and WITH the constant moving of the world.

It hurts.  I look at, listen to, interact with, FEEL toward, receive from, snuggle, caress, kiss, desire, weep, converse with my current romantic partner – aching every time to express how additive, emergent, unique, INCOMPARABLE these NOW-experiences WITH her vary from, extend, surprise, fulfill, astound, affect, estrange from any other – and bewilder my ability to communicate them… because I have said “I love this pizza” a million times.  I have lost my breath at the views from a hundred mountain-tops.  I have gasped at four crashing oceans.  I have whimpered from the all-over expenditure of orgasm many times.  My fingers have disbelieved themselves and been overwhelmed by a life of plants, animals, surfaces and human fleshes.  “My favorite pie” has happened again and again and again – never the same me, never the same pie.  Down to my cells, my molecules, my quarks.

My love and I have imagined a new symbology.  Each time we ache to speak our love we will scramble new squiggles, letters, symbols, scratchings in order to designate:  THIS IS NOT LIKE BEFORE – I know I said it moments ago – BUT THIS IS SOMETHING MORE/OTHER/ PARTICULATED and specific from that.  This is NOW-LOVE, new and familiar, distinct and embodying all the particles prior.  There are not enough symbols.  Not enough sense.

Mikhail Bakhtin and any number of other thinkers, artists, poets, anthropologists (von Uexkull, Heidegger, William James, Charles Peirce, Paul Bains, Erin Manning, John Poinsot, John Deely, Paul Kockelman, Humberto Maturana, etc. etc. etc.) have attempted to unpack this strange tangle.  Poets and writers throughout history (as witnessed via Heraclitus at the start of this little assay), musicians, painters, explorers, historians – HUMANS have suffered, hurt, ached at this paradox of limitation and adequacy for expressing WHAT I MEAN / WHAT’S HAPPENING FOR ME NOW / throughout the life of our species.

The gist of it:  our bodies and vocabularies are VERY limited in relation to the never-ending changing and flood and flow of our relation to the world and others.  26 letters and 20 digits, a circumscribable surface of skin, a rate of cognition, a dictionary of emotions… never the same human stepping in never the same river.  This is where Bakhtin, et. al. assist us.  What language we’ve agreed on, what musical forms and sounds, what movements we are capable of, what gestures, groans, inflections, pressures of touch, coos and growls, whispers and howls – YES they are woefully limited to represent the vast variations of each NOW experience – with THIS person, THIS landscape, THIS particular food, THIS hearing of a song, THIS sunset, THIS ocean, THIS child, THIS reading – we repeat and repeat and repeat (in a kind of repulsive ad nauseum).  We proclaim our love as powerfully as we know how… and find we wrote the same thing to another person in a letter 15 years ago.  We massage and wriggle and lick and devour in lovemaking in a way we mean to be so particular to THIS passion, THIS relation, THIS other – and it mimics our gripping and caressing and kissing and intercourse of many other times, other passions, other relations, other others.  It hurts.

Bakhtin et. al. indicate that the MEANING is limitless.  That in order to communicate, each BETWEEN must be understood in the Heraclitean sense – WE ARE NOT IDENTICAL to ourselves – ever – and THIS EXPERIENCE being had is NOT IDENTICAL to any other – ever – our means of expression, our vocabularies for communication, our bodily capacities and emotive apparatus ARE LIMITED… but the meanings we create interacting with the world are not.  The MEANINGS ONLY OCCUR BETWEEN and AS we (ever-unique and different) participate, interact, engage one another and world (ever-unique and changing) … To comprehend the sometimes repulsive, apparently restrictive and woefully repetitive MEANS OF EXPRESSION we have and its FELT INADEQUACY to the new, unique, differentiated EXPERIENCE WE ACHE TO EXPRESS – would rely on the mutual understanding that EACH EXPRESSION WITH  COMPOSES NEW MEANING.

Our efforts, compulsions, desires, tastes, affections, pleasures, joys, hurts – EXPERIENCE – IS AUTHENTIC and GENUINELY NEW and DIFFERENT every moment – the means we have of COMMUNICATING, EXPRESSING, CONNECTING these experiences IS LIMITED and REPETITIVE – but we need not doubt the LIMITLESS CAPACITY FOR MEANING SOMETHING FRESH, AUTHENTIC, GENUINE, TRUE that each of those repeated words, phrases, emotions, gestures, interactions have… because…

“Ever-newer waters flow on those who step into the same rivers.”

“All entities move and nothing remains still”

“Everything changes and nothing remains still … and … you cannot step twice into the same stream”

-Heraclitus of Ephesus-

We are a species of limited vocabularies, a constrained encyclopedia…

in a world of limitless meanings

let us trust one another.

-for Hallie


Communication : Calibration


Perhaps we join in a wooded area, wander about, espying for foxes and deer, or bunnies.

Maybe we just use our eyes.

Sometimes we use the term-containers – words of our languages – bring varieties of ourselves, our experiences, our learning, our responses to syllables and sounds, and craft new spaces whereby the potentials echo.

I raise my hand, you respond in kind.  A nod, a wave, a shake.

Perhaps the fuzzy boundaries of ourselves engage – we hug, we kiss, we make sounds one to another…

Both leaping over the log.  Both scrambling the scaffold.

Gazes infiltrating one another on the river, on the Van Gogh, on the sculpted heap.

“You heard that too?”



atomic structures

Suppose we take up space.  Suppose we are compositions of compositions that make a kind of interactive boundary – both for ourselves and that which surrounds us.  The same, but different.  Suppose all that spins around me gives me a sort of “area.”  Suppose I lend the air, the water, the sound and ground a similar sort of “area” by my own buzzing, my own movements.  Call me color.  I am “blue.”  But when I engage you in my blustering – you, “yellow” – we don’t end up making stripes…

WE, are “green.”

overlap engageI breathe…my compositions of compositions exchange and interchange – some re-inhaled, some new and distinct, some left to re-compose.  I enter you.  I lend a boundary.  I find I do not dissolve.  And yet, exchange.

Our voices, carried by term-containers, expand, swell, contract, until there is a blend of meanings, intentions.

Maybe we only inflect.

Our fuzzy, buzzing boundaries.

Engage, exchange, co-constitute.

You move.  You lend me form.  I respond.  I interact in kind.

Fuzz, buzz, calibrate.

You said.  I replied.  I summarized.  You disagreed.  Partially.  Edit, recompose.

If “I” am a composition.  I am composed of compositions – recognizable.  Body.  Organs.  Veins.  Plasma.  Neurons.  Molecules.  Clusters.  DNA.  Synapses.  Atoms….

You, composition of compositions…a composition within compositions : surround, situation, “space” (is there such thing?).  Space, time – any emptied space to occupy?  No.  Displacement, exchange.  Calibrate.

Table.  A/C.  Drink glass.  Water.  Music.  Each element, action, “happening” altering, vibrating, co-creating the rest…

Calibrating BEING.



Co-composing…compositions made of compositions made of…within compositions of compositions…making…

We calibrate.

I enter you.  We correlate.  Calibrate.  Collaborate.  Co-create.

I recede.

You, though different, remain.

How intimate it can be…and yet.

We lend and are lent.  Gift and are gifted.

Our fuzzy, buzzing borders.

Ever-exchanging.  Ever-engaging.

We climb.  We calibrate.

We dance, we speak, we respond, we laugh, we play, we swim…

We dream, we sleep, we breathe…


…and become.

This is mysterious to me.  Mysterious and wonderful.  How I tend to think I “know” I am made of the same miniscule moving structures as you, as air, as mountain, as stream… And yet I retain a form… maintain an autopoietic and dynamic interchange and existence (for a time) as a cognizable (humanly) and dynamic “organism” or form of life.  Like a language, a rock, a helix, an artwork, an idea.  That I “know” these elemental spaces composed of tinier spaces making up larger spaces are all active, are full, are constantly coming and going, interacting and recombining, becoming and altering, editing and con-forming… and yet we identify, recognize, perceive…and do it again – come together, and calibrate…

Action.  Language.  Presence.  Exchange.

Remain.  Begin.  Engender.  Preserve.


Each of it: action, communication, gesture, touch, sense, perception, behavior, belief,





On Love

I will be up front with you:  this post is a failure.  If I were able to comprehend, understand or express what it is I have been struggling with myself to grasp and communicate – I would also have the expressive powers to irresistibly beckon my love.

Like many poets and artists, I am not a stranger to great expressions of love.  Tales of romance, of idealism, of sacrifice and charity.  Of endurance, persistence, obstacles and joy.  Of passion, beauty, devotion and charm.  Many of us spend the bulk of our lives searching it, attempting to become both loving and lovable, generous and worthy.

What I have wrestled with this past week is how I might convince all of you who have an interest in its meaning, its practice, its enjoyment and its pain that a book I have spent much time reading and reflecting over the past two weeks is worth your full attention.  It is entitled The Conditions of Love: the philosophy of intimacy and is written by John Armstrong.

Armstrong - Conditions of Love

For a while now I have been making effort at examining the “intolerable vulnerabilities” that intimacy evokes in us.  Armstrong addresses these in a deep variety of ways, such as “love craves closeness, and closeness always brings us face to face with something other than we expected.”  Upon meditating my way through his profound expository book, I have added “incalculable equation” to my sense of love.  “Most people are, it goes without saying, sometimes pathetic and sometimes quite competent…reciprocity requires us to hold in mind a complex image of our own nature.”  My felt sense upon concluding his words (and those of so many others he includes ever so skillfully) – was a strange sense that love combines the profound gravity of grief and the profound levity of hope.  

It is instructive to understand what Armstrong intends by a philosophical account of intimacy:  “One of the things which philosophy can do is to try to flesh out, with as much precision as the case allows, just what is at stake in the concepts we use.”  And he performs this so deftly.  “Hence the more subtle our thinking about love, the more intelligently we discriminate ideals from reality, the more interesting our autobiography becomes.”  His is the thinking of the ‘pandoxist.’  “A pandoxist doesn’t locate all the important insights and truths about life in a single system, but tries to seize upon the multitude of truths and insights which are located in many distinct – and often antagonistic – positions…most great systems of thought are founded upon lasting insights…but we generally don’t need to be completely consistent in our thinking…we are attempting to enrich our repertoire of ideas…thoughts which will be helpful at different times and in different situations.”  The Conditions of Love satisfies this expertly.

The book has been written.  I cannot possibly improve on it, and, although I’d dream of trying – what I most desire is that more humans will engage it toward the extension and enrichment of their lives and the relations they involve .  With that in mind I will simply copy some of my underscored passages from Armstrong’s writing – hopefully to successfully convince you that it could benefit you, too.

“The suggestion that love is deep carries the implication that it emerges from deep within us and that it reaches something deep within us.  It carries with it an image of the personality as layered.”

“Love isn’t a single thing but a complex of different concerns gives rise to a vision of some of the problems of love.  When we try to love we are not actually trying to undertake a single endeavour; rather, we are trying to do a whole range of different, and sometimes not very compatible, things simultaneously.”

“We need love, we have an inbuilt need to love and be loved, yet the two sexes have divergent evolutionary and genetic notions of how love works.  The unhappiness of love is the fault of the evolution of the species…which undertakes to show how extremely complex emotions and thoughts are enacted in material processes.”

“to show that love is natural is not in fact to show anything very important…what is given by nature is not necessarily good, and what is achieved by artifice is not necessarily worthless…the experience of love is open to change, but only in some ways.”

“Compatibility is an achievement of love, not a precondition for love…there is no such thing as perfect compatibility, therefore all loving relationships must accomodate some degree of incompatibility.”

“Perhaps the most fundamental fact of human experience is that the experience of being oneself differs radically from the experience we have of others…no other person can complete us…this is something we have to do for ourselves, even if we are lucky enough to find another person who is helpful and supportive and whose character tends to bring out the best in us.”

“friendship is a species of love…there is something about their mode of being, about the texture of their inner life, which seems familiar…it is when we discover, or suspect, some intimate correspondence between our own secret self and that of the other that we begin to move from liking to loving.”

“the very needs which take us into love play a role in the souring of love.”

“love involves a reorientation of our concerns.  We are in the habit of being immensely preoccupied by what immediately concerns our own well-being…yet caring for something, or someone, other than oneself can be immensely liberating.”

“the irony is that the more we invest in love, the harder it can be to love successfully.  To love another person often requires that we have further and independent sources of satisfaction and security in our lives.”

“of course it can be disturbing, even terrifying, to admit insufficiency to ourselves.  ‘Why do I need another person? Because I cannot be happy on my own?’  For some people at least, that is too painful an admission.  We sometimes avoid our need for love because it casts us in a vulnerable role…It suggests how deep the need for love goes in us, how hard it sometimes is for us to recognize what it is we are looking for, and how hard it is going to be for someone else to satisfy those needs.”

“infatuation – can be driven not just by a mistake about the other person (thinking they are nicer than they really are) but by a mistake about oneself (wanting to be other than one is)…in infatuation, we use another person as a prop in a fantasy about ourselves.”

“many persons imagine that it is the quality of current feeling that matters; in fact, current feeling is no guide for behaviour under multiple strains and stresses.  What infatuation does is to consecrate the present feeling and protect it from serious investigation.  Imagination paints a charming view of the future, conveniently adapted to the demands of our current situation.”

“Cupid is the name of whatever it is in us which, without our consent or recognition, provokes the intense longing for attachment which we call falling in love…the fear of love as irrational is not simply the fear that love is in its genesis outside of our control, but that it is not amenable to reason once it is up and running.”

“the forces which make us long for another person to love – loneliness, the need for warmth and tenderness – can be so great that we behave as if we were starving…desperation overrides discrimination…the process of falling in love may be governed not by the intelligent sense of what is good for us but by unconscious forces which cause us to get attached to someone with whom we can – like an addict – repeat a self-harming pleasure – ‘this person is for me’ may be, ironically, true and yet true only in that we have identified a potential source of our preferred misery…a relationship does not start the day two people meet; it starts in the childhood of each partner.  for it is long before they meet that the template of their relationship is established.  We learn to love as children.  Or, more accurately, we learn a style of relating which governs our adult behaviour when it comes to love.”

“much depends on the way in which we find in them someone with whom we can continue the unfinished business of childhood…there is something about this person which coheres with an earlier pattern…Falling in love, then, is a result of two thing coming together: the longings which we have and the workings of our imagination.”

“Our sense of who another person really is is massively inflected by our own concerns…what it is to understand a person – involves having a clear conception of what that person’s real needs and qualities are – a conception which can be radically at variance with the self-image of that person.”

“Love alone can’t make another adult intelligent, generous, courageous, persistent and sociable – unless they are very close to possessing these qualities in the first place…it is axiomatic that people can be wrong about what is good for them; that is, they can be wrong about what will make them happy.  This is one of the key reasons why there is so much unhappiness in the world.”

“To love is to interpret another person with charity…of course we habitually go beyond the facts when we find fault with or condemn another…Anger and resentment are frequently founded upon what we suppose another person has intended, rather than on what we actually know about their motives.  Charity, therefore, need not ascribe benign motives, but keeps open the possibility that one doesn’t know what really goes on in another’s heart of hearts…to step aside is human…a charitable interpretation seeks out good qualities underneath evident failings and inadequacies – and take a sympathetic view of those failings..requiring a complex image of our own nature.”

“Most accounts of existence place love at the centre of life.  We live in order to grow in love – that is the meaning and purpose of each individual life.”

“Love requires the integration of all our powers: we have to be sensual, but also understanding; we need to be able to relax with our beloved, but must equally exercise self-control; we have to mix spontaneity with foresight; passionate, devouring sexual desire has to be tempered with respect…”

“What is wrong with capitalism is not so much that it fosters an unjust distribution of wealth but rather that it damages the personalities of all those who live within it, cutting each individual off from the realization of the true nature, giving rise to internal – as well as external – obstacles to love…If we have to devote our best energies, almost all of our time, to making a living, and if in doing so we have to become competitive, or ruthless, we don’t have much of ourselves left over for love.  We can only love on the margins of our lives and with the residue of our capacities…Love, which stands as the natural goal of living, is massively subordinated to the pursuit of the means of living.”

“the reality, here, is that we invest the people we encounter – particularly those we get close to – with characteristics which are not really their own but which derive from our own earlier relationships…construction and transference is an unconscious process – one which we are not only unaware of but which we positively resist becoming aware of.”

“Love, then, can never be the coming together of two perfectly compatible creatures.  We are not like jigsaw pieces which can, if only we find the correct piece, lock together in perfect accord.  It is as if each person actually belongs to several jigsaws at once and hence fits perfectly into none.”

“Much of the resulting pain of adult life can be traced back to the ways in which the child deals with ambivalence…it is impossible to have a loving relationship which does not involve negative aspects…because a perfectly right partner will still evoke fears and anxieties in us, will still – because of connections back to the roots of love and fear in childhood – become an object of envy or jealousy, will still be the privileged object of our aggression and disappointment…”

“Sex is direct, whereas love is diffuse.  Sometimes we need love to be made obvious – and sex is one of the most powerful ways in which this can happen…the troubling fact is that two positions are correct: we are inherently jealous and sexual desire is distinct from love.  To accept both claims is to admit a degree of incoherence in human nature…this is an invitation to be more imaginative about dignity.”

“Recuperation is essential to the survival of love because it is inevitable that love will come up against serious difficulties…the point is that even within a good relationship there are continual sources of hurt and disappointment which have to be overcome if love is to survive…their overcoming is actually the growth and development of loving…it is, therefore, extremely important that we work with a vision of love which sees problems not as the end of love, not as a sign that love is over, but as the ground upon which love operates.

“This is the internal tragedy of love.  If love is successful, if our love is returned and develops into a relationship, the person we are with must turn out to be other than we imagined them to be…security can put us off our guard…the notion of maturity is humanity’s attempt to retain an optimistic picture of love in the face of disappointment and difficulty.”

“Maturity is our name for the hopeful strategy which is open to us when faced with something which is both an object of high value (a source of happiness) and, at the same time, threatening, difficult, disturbing..the very things which draw us into love and enable us to invest so highly in another person, to wish to bind our lives together, themselves give rise to disillusionment, frustration, disappointment, and evoke some of our deepest fears and most primitive defences.  What we mean by maturity is a change of perspective.”

“In this book I have tried to argue two things…Firstly, the need to love and be loved is deeply placed in human nature – we long to be understood, to be close to another person, to matter in another’s life…the factors which draw us into love also constitute the roots of love’s difficulties.  We long to be understood, but it is often awkward to have another see too much of one’s inner troubles…we do not go through life with a coherent set of desires, and anyone who charms us in one frame of mind may be annoying or threatening in another.  Secondly, love is an achievement, it is something we create, individually, not something which we just find…and yet it cannot be forced simply by effort…it is dependent on many other achievements – kindness of interpretations, sympathy and understanding, a sense of our own needs, and terrible vulnerability…each requires patient cultivation – we have to take whatever fragile presence each has in our lives and build upon that…in order to unlock our passions, recognize our need for another, and see our present loneliness…”

and so on – i simply took a quote or two from each chapter – hopefully you can imagine the depth of the whole…and will enjoy it for yourselves….!

see also:de Botton - On Love


“I am a sentence”

On Reading in Marriage

They speak of their pleasures, their necessary loves.  There are changes you make.  Some things are not accidents.

In other words, after decades fueled by a fifth of vodka drenched with grapefruits each day, husband is able to leave it behind.  Although he loved it, it was not necessary.

Wife, in her cravings for sugar and salt, discovers with age they are not constitutive, not centrally.

Might be solitude or fine shoes; 80’s music or mountains and seas; active social lives or the thrills of travel, how do you know?

Husband elicits evaluation.  Given impending demise, what gives more pleasure?

Wife admits a necessary love.

Husband responds in kind, having been in partial reverie, their warm bed surrounded by shelves of books, so that as he listens he also corresponds.  She says.  His eyes resting on a spine and the sweet particular music of that voiced tome slithering through him, then the next.  Perhaps like chocolate morsels in their process of dissolve upon her tongue.

“I love sentences,” Husband says.

There ensues a pause, a sympathetic “I know.”

He ups to exit, teeth to brush, clothes remove.

He hears “I am a sentence,” a lilting and playful challenge.  And wonders just what that might be, each person a length of sentence.  The content.  He puzzles the verbiage of his own as toothpaste shuffles into his beard.

He returns to the room, it is dark,  there is no light to see by.

Opening the covers, he approaches the text, eager to find what it says.

Happy Monday this Tuesday. Begin.

Today I woke up.

I woke up in love.  In joy.

A song was sparrowing to and fro in my mind’s sky (Boxer Rebellion – Soviets)

We have new puppies and they are loving and cute.

The heat has broken and there were clouds in the sky.

we have twins of these

In love?

In joy?

What might those mean?

We danced the pups to trauma to the Lumineers “Ho Hey”.

Like coming out of a slump.

Like post-coital bliss.

That full, that relaxed and open.

For no particular reason.

For so many particular reasons.

plus we made a pistachio bundt cake

How does the brain chemistry experience?

How do the senses collage reality?

How are we?

this is your brain on joy


I woke today in bliss and joy.

I woke today in love.


Happy Monday this Tuesday.