Sunday, June 15, 2008

romance and pascal

i think romantics are foolish, and i should say that when i use the term "romantic" i'm referring to what Kierkegaard calls the "aesthetic". I think that romantics are slaves to the idea of possibilities, taken under influence, like blind men, of passing desires. always drunk, fools for "passion". Blaise Pascal says that if "we offend principles of reason, our religion will be absurd and ridiculous", and I think that the same idea can be applied to passion. Passion without an anchor of rationality becomes comedic, and tragic. I've seen it in others and I've seen it in myself, but I think I've out grown it, or been forced to move passed that blissfully stagnate "honeymoon" of optimism and unhinged possibility. Although, that is not to say I hope to eradicate my "romantic" tendencies altogether. There is a difference between "romanticism", and being "romantic"...I do not want to be a romantic, I want to hide my romantic tendencies and reserve them for someone that is interesting enough to evoke it. I've had this idea for a while, it's silly, but picturing it in my head is good fun. I want to let myself become something entirely revolting. I will try to develop, what Nabakov refers to as, "the lucky star of the russian face." Yeah, I'll let myself go and hang out on a park bench, but I will retain my manners and always stay polite, work on my charm, build it out of a knowledge of history, literature and political/biblical proverbs and be on my best behavior. If, in this state, I meet someone willing to offer me their affections, that would be a worthwhile victory, although, the whole idea is silly. I'm sick of hanging around and misguided ideas. I was watching "Sleepless in Seattle" last week and while watching the movie I found myself singing along to every song that was in the movie. The reason I know all of these songs is because my parents used to play the soundtrack in the car on long trips. Gene Autry, Jimmy Durant, Louie Armstrong singing light hearted songs about love, relationships, heartbreak, etc. So, this is revealing.... this is a small microcosm as to why I experienced a fit of "meg ryan movie" like idea of relationships for a few years..or maybe I'm still fighting it because it's imbedded into my subconscious. Ugh.


I like Blaise Pascal and this is why. I was reading some of his writings on the plane ride back to VA and I found something that was a perfect summation of something I've thought for a while. I love it when I read things I relate to.

"They are overwhelmed with business, with the study of languages, and with physical exercise; they are made to understand that they cannot be happy unless their health, their honor, their fortune and that of their friends be in good condition, and that a single thing wanting will make them unhappy. Thus they are given cares and business which make them bustle about from break of day. It is, you will exclaim, a strange way to make them happy! What more could be done to make them miserable?"

"The only thing which consoles us for our misery is diversion, and yet this is the greatest of our miseries. For it is this which principally hinders us from reflecting upon ourselves, and which makes us insensibly ruin ourselves. Without this, we should be in a state of weariness, and this weariness would spur us to seek a more solid means of escaping from it. But diversion amuses us and leads us unconsciously to death."

I think that "distraction" or "diversion" is one of the negatives characteristics of the current architecture of living. We are forced to plan ahead and look towards the future as an approach to survival, not meditation or enjoyment of your existence. Self preservation or providing for your family dictates that you focus on rote practices in order to keep your head above water. Some are more fortunate than others, but I do not think that challenges the psychology that I feel has developed over the past few decades. I feel like the (american) dreams have deteriorated.


Blogger Melanie said...

I am a hopeless romantic. I don't think it prevents one from being rational. It can, on occasion, prompt one not to act that way, I suppose. LOL

Have you read, The Pilgrim's Regress. For some reason, it seems appropriate to your latest posts. It's not a terribly easy read, but worth reading just the same.

For some reason I thought you might appreciate this citation:
"We were made to be neither cerebral men nor visceral men, but Men. Not beasts nor angels, but Men--things at once rational and animal." It's from the afterward of the Third Edition of The Pilgrim's Regress.

Your park bench scenario reminds me of Beauty and the Beast (not the Disney version, necessarily.)
Just the storyline.

As for Sleepless in Seattle, it wasn't my favorite because it always bothered me that she left a wonderful relationship to pursue something that made no sense from any perspective I could think of. I wouldn't know if I could trust someone so capricious, and trust is important.

I did rather like "While You Were Sleeping," though. I suppose things in that scenario could have been bothersome as well, but not to the same extent to me for whatever reason.

As for happiness, I think we try to hard to find it. I think there is something to be said for contentment. Those who chase happiness as a goal seem to be the most miserable of people from my personal experience, at least.

Well, I am good at rambling late at night or is that early in the morning?

Stay well.

2:38 AM


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