Tuesday, February 28, 2012
"This is the fictionalization of love, the fact that the confidences that couples exchange are provided for them, structurally, because it is structurally necessary that these confidences by exchanged. Modern love would be unthinkable without fiction, romantic fiction in particular.... consider the modern situation. Each modern couple has to devise for itself a history which will justify its existence as a couple, on the basis of zero personal experience. Lovers cannot model their conduct on that of siblings or friends because even the best of friends or the closest of siblings have to hold back, for the sake of discretion. Hence it is necessary that sentimental education should take place via fictional rather than real exemplars, relayed via romantic novels, films and soaps on the TV. Fictions are plentiful, life-chances are few; it is not a condemnation of modern society to remark, as has often been done, that popular fiction proceeds and guides the actions of real-life lovers, rather than representing real life after the fact. Fiction is a giant simulation, an external thought-process, which provides individuals with the scripts they cannot do without and which non-fictional experience cannot supply. This means that we cannot put love-fiction to one side as if it were less authentic than real life. Fiction is, where modern societies are concerned, what genealogy is in those societies which have marriage rules, i.e. the means of producing the relationships on which social life depends. Fiction, re-enacted as real life, produces the histories on which relationships and society at large are grounded."
Alfred Gell, On Love
"Love is the ultimate indiscretion.... knowledge about love is not like knowledge about cabbages, which do not mind being known about. Love is constituted through the dual process of mutual exposure (between lovers) combined with concealment (from everybody else). To discuss love at all as a topic for research papers is in some ways to contradict the essence of love. Of course, I know that many loving couples conduct themselves in a very amorous way in public; but nonetheless these public displays only serve to hint at much more spectacular and shameful goings-on which take place behind closed doors. I know too that when questioned by researchers individuals and couples will speak at length, and often with alarming frankness, about their sex-lives. But these confessions are made, usually, with the assurance that the information divulged will never be traced back to the individuals concerned and will, with luck, be tucked away from public gaze in statistical tables published in journals only read by desiccated academics, who might as well come from outer space. Moreover, the social-scientific confessional mode deals with sex, rather than love, which I regard as somewhat distinct. What I consider impossible is that social scientific interrogation will ever be able to unearth true, authentic, love-secrets, just because once such secrets are surrendered to the public they are automatically devalued. When one of Princess Diana’s lovers goes public, he is disqualified as a lover and becomes a cad and an exploiter. What can such a person tell us of love, since he is obviously incapable of it? Hence we can never know about love because the process of coming to know about love, from the third-party standpoint, annihilates the very entity about which we seek to know."
Alfred Gell, On Love
Monday, February 27, 2012
Sunday, February 26, 2012
"What causes hesitation is the fact that, after all, Mr Wittgenstein manages to say a good deal about what cannot be said, thus suggesting to the sceptical reader that possibly there may be some loophole through a hierarchy of languages, or by some other exit. The whole subject of ethics, for example, is placed by Mr Wittgenstein in the mystical, inexpressible region. Nevertheless he is capable of conveying his ethical opinions. His defence would be that what he calls the mystical can be shown, although it cannot be said. It may be that this defence is adequate, but, for my part, I confess that it leaves me with a certain sense of intellectual discomfort."
Bertrand Russell, on Wittgenstein's Tractatus
Monday, February 13, 2012
Friday, February 10, 2012
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
"It's hard to accept the idea that there cannot be an order in the universe because it would offend the free will of God and His omnipotence. So the freedom of God is our condemnation, or at least the condemnation of our pride."
I dared, for the first and last time in my life, to express a theological conclusion: "But how can a necessary being exist totally polluted with the possible? What difference is there, then, between God and primigenial chaos? Isn't affirming God's absolute omnipotence and His absolute freedom with regards to His own choices tantamount to demonstrating that God does not exist?"
Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose