Things fit together in the strangest ways. It’s hard to describe this thought-chain, so bear with me please. I think it’s good, but what do I know.
I was musing over the passage from Paradise Lost earlier, and tracking down some stuff lead me to Milton’s Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce. The passage highlighted was this one:
Hence it is that Plato in his festivall discours brings in Socrates relating what he fain’d to have learnt from the Prophetesse Diotima, how Love was the Sonne of Penury, begot of Plenty in the Garden of Iupiter. Which divinely sorts with that which in effect Moses tells us, that Love was the son of Lonelines, begot in Paradise by that sociable and helpfull aptitude which God implanted between man and woman toward each other. The same also is that burning mention’d by S. Paul, wherof marriage ought to be the remedy; the flesh hath other naturall and easie curbes which are in the power of any temperate man.
When therfore this originall and sinles Penury or Lonelines of the soul cannot lay it self down by the side of such a meet and acceptable union as God ordain’d in marriage, at least in some proportion, it cannot conceive and bring forth Love, but remains utterly unmarried under a formall wedlock, and still burnes in the proper meaning of S. Paul. Then enters Hate, not that Hate that sins, but that which onely is naturall dissatisfaction, and the turning aside from a mistaken object: if that mistake have done injury, it fails not to dismisse with recompence; for to retain still, and not be able to love, is to heap up more injury.
Milton’s prose can be difficult to follow, but using the idea that sexual desire is a “burning” which is transformed into “hate” in a bad marriage is pretty cool. Divorce was illegal in England in his time, and he was arguing for it because he was in a bad marriage. Notice the logic that if you don’t have sex, you don’t have love? However, what interests me more than that is Milton’s leap (a really interesting bit of logic, if you examine it closely) that Love is born from loneliness and helpfulness. That explains a lot of relationships I’ve been in.
I’d been thinking about old loves, and how hard they were to let go of at the time. Unlike many in the blogging crowd, I just can’t even fathom causal sex or short term relationships. When I get locked into something, I can’t seem to get out. Trying to figure out my deficiencies in dealing with relationships, it makes sense to consider that maybe the loneliness I feel is just so fucking strong that it makes for strong love; a love that easily becomes psychically damaging . The loneliness has been getting even worse lately, and it bugs me. It’s not something that really has a lot of basis in reality; I think it’s something that I’ve sort of constructed over a long period of time. Somehow, being lonely becomes a way of life. It comes out of every pore like a sort of “stay away” cologne.
However, strange synchronicities emerge when the stench gets the strongest.
Coincidence #1: Amy called me this afternoon, because she’s having difficulty figuring out what to do about going back to school. I note things like this, because I never get phone calls, and I’ve gotten two this week. When I start to feel really alone, it seems like the oddest people call out of the blue. It helps. It stops me from going completely into dark depression. After the last few failures, I hadn’t thought about “love” in a long time. I’d settle for a decent friendship. But they don’t seem to form; I just get random sporadic phone calls when I need them. Like now.
Coincidence #2: Jason, in class tonight, was talking about wanting to write a story about a pious uncle of his that never cursed. He would say “Damn Plastics” though, never just “plastics” (he was an ironworker who saw plastics as the decline and fall of American industry). This made me think of The Graduate, the old Mike Nicols film staring Dustin Hoffman. When I got home, I turned on the TV. There it was, on AMC.
That odd synchronicity is deeply wrapped around a girl I’d been thinking about, Lisa. She was a very big Simon and Garfunkle fan, and they did the soundtrack for that movie. I scanned a picture of her I was going to put in my blog, just the day before. It fits in the oddest of ways. She was the first “healthy” love I had. Of course, I had to backtrack from the Milton that I read this morning to his reference to Plato’s Symposium [the drinking party]. Odd, but I also turned down an invitation to a drinking party tonight as well. But I digress. The reference to the genesis of Love in Plato is this:
The tale,” she said, “will take time; nevertheless I will tell you. On the birthday of Aphrodite there was a feast of the gods, at which the god Poros or Plenty, who is the son of Metis or Discretion, was one of the guests. When the feast was over, Penia or Poverty, as the manner is on such occasions, came about the doors to beg.
Now Plenty who was the worse for nectar (there was no wine in those days), went into the garden of Zeus and fell into a heavy sleep; and Poverty considering her own straitened circumstances, plotted to have a child by him, and accordingly she lay down at his side and conceived Love, who partly because he is naturally a lover of the beautiful, and because Aphrodite is herself beautiful, and also because he was born on her birthday, is her follower and attendant.
And as his parentage is, so also are his fortunes. In the first place he is always poor, and anything but tender and fair, as the many imagine him; and he is rough and squalid, and has no shoes, nor a house to dwell in; on the bare earth exposed he lies under the open heaven, in the streets, or at the doors of houses, taking his rest; and like his mother he is always in distress.
Like his father too, whom he also partly resembles, he is always plotting against the fair and good; he is bold, enterprising, strong, a mighty hunter, always weaving some intrigue or other, keen in the pursuit of wisdom, fertile in resources; a philosopher at all times, terrible as an enchanter, sorcerer, sophist. He is by nature neither mortal nor immortal, but alive and flourishing at one moment when he is in plenty, and dead at another moment, and again alive by reason of his father’s nature. But that which is always flowing in is always flowing out, and so he is never in want and never in wealth; and, further, he is in a mean between ignorance and knowledge.
So there you have it, Love in a nutshell. Love was born in a drunken seduction. It comes and it goes, eh? Love is poor bum who is always in need, always scheming, always caught in between having and not having. Plato rocks!