Recommended Reading

I love reading people's insights on life and love, from Montaigne's unique views during the French Renaissance, and the ongoing interpretation of his essays, to Daniel Jone's observations from reading 'Modern Love' submissions. The depth of the human experience is incredible.

Anything on your reading list as the weather changes? I've been waiting for cozier weather to tackle Middlemarch; I hear it's all the rage right now ;-)

Recommended Reading

Here is a short excerpt from each:

1. How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer
(Sarah Bakewell)
If they liked the Essays' style, English readers were even more charmed by its content. Montaigne's preference for details over abstractions appealed to them; so did his distrust of scholars, his preference for moderation and comfort, and his desire for privacy -- the "room behind the shop." On the other hand, the English also had a taste for travel and exoticism, as did Montaigne. He could show unexpected bursts of radicalism in the very midst of quiet conservatism: so could they. Much of the time he was happier watching his cat play by the fireside -- and so were the English.
Then there was his philosophy, if you could call it that. The English were not born philosophers; they did not like to speculate about being, truth, and the cosmos. When they picked up a book they wanted anecdotes, odd characters, witty sallies, and a touch of fantasy. As Virginia Woolf said à propos Sir Thomas Browne, one of many English authors who wrote in a Montaignean vein, "The English mind is naturally prone to take its ease and pleasure in the loosest whimsies and humors." (P. 275)
2. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: Stories (Raymond Carver)
I Could See the Smallest Thing
I was in bed when I heard the gate. I listened carefully. I didn't hear anything else. But I heard that. I tried to wake Cliff. He was passed out. So I got up and went to the window. A big moon was laid over the mountains that went around the city. It was a white moon and covered with scars. Any damn fool could imagine a face there.
3. First Love and Other Stories (Ivan Turgenev)
There is a sweetness in being the sole source, the autocratic and irresponsible cause of the greatest joy and profoundest pain to another, and I was like wax in Zinaïda's hands; though, indeed, I was not the only one in love with her. All the men who visited the house were crazy over her, and she kept them all in leading-strings at her feet. It amused her to arouse their hopes and then their fears, to turn them round her finger (she used to call it knocking their heads together), while they never dreamed of offering resistance and eagerly submitted to her. About her whole being, so full of life and beauty, there was a peculiarly bewitching mixture of slyness and carelessness, of artificiality and simplicity, of composure and frolicsomeness; about everything she did or said, about every action of hers, there clung a delicate, fine charm, in which an individual power was manifest at work. And her face was ever changing, working too; it expressed, almost at the same time, irony, dreaminess, and passion. Various emotions, delicate and quick-changing as the shadows of clouds on a sunny day of wind, chased one another continually over her lips and eyes.
4. Love Illuminated: Exploring Life's Most Mystifying Subject (with the Help of 50,000 Strangers) (Daniel Jones)
Being the First to Say "I Love You"
Everyone knows that just because you realize you're falling in love with someone doesn't mean you're supposed to blurt that out until you've gotten a good sense that your declaration of love will be reciprocated. If you think of your relationship as being like a seesaw, with you on one end and your love interest on the other, then you want to try to keep that seesaw roughly in balance and avoid any sudden shifts that can result in a sharp fall and a broken ass.
For example, if you say "I love you," and the other person says "I love you too," the seesaw remains balanced. But if you say "I love you," and he or she pauses and then says, "Um, I really like you a lot, but--" it's as if your seesaw partner has stood up and let you go crashing down.
The big decision, though, is figuring out who is going to be the first to say "I love you." Well, it turns out there's some consistency in this matter, at least in heterosexual relationships. Researches at Penn State University have found that men are actually three times more likely than women to be the first in the relationship to say "I love you." Surprised? I was, and so were the 87 percent of people in the study who expected women would be the first to profess love. The logic seems clear, though, when you understand the timing and reasons why men are often the first to cross that threshold.
According to the study, men typically say "I love you" before they have had sex with the woman, and the reason they decide to say it, consciously or not, is because they want to have sex, and they think the woman is more likely to agree to have sex if she is told she's loved.
Although this makes sense, I doubt it's so coldy calculated in every case, because from what I've seen (and done), a man's brain can confuse intense physical desire with actual love, and in the heat of the moment, he may or may not be able to process his feelings and thoughts appropriately. In these cases, his brain may seize up, and before he even knows what's happening, his mouth just spits out the words "I love you." He sort of means it but also sort of can't help himself.
In any case, if it works, and the man gets to have sex, he's happy, even if he hasn't quite thought through the long-term repercussions of how the woman may interpret his declaration and what she will hold him to going forward and how often she will remind him of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for taking time to comment!