Ktismatics

9 September 2009

Who Is She Really?

Filed under: First Lines, Psychology — ktismatics @ 3:05 pm

“When Mrs. Dervain reached her hand out to me I thought she was extending a common kindness.”

That’s the first line of a novel I wrote. Mrs. Dervain is a central character, but I purposely revealed very little about her. I wanted to see what sort of person readers inferred her to be — likable or not, physical characteristics, and so on — based on the minimal information provided in her words, gestures, and actions. Those few people who have read the book seem to find Mrs. Dervain fascinating, even though they tend to ascribe very different characteristics to her.

I began writing this novel, abandoned it for maybe a year and a half, then came back to it. The other two main characters had prominent roles in the earlier fragment; Mrs. Dervain I introduced as a new character. I had passed the halfway point in the writing when I read again part of the older manuscript. It included an extended section featuring another woman character. I wondered: what if I turn this other woman character into Mrs. Dervain? With only the slightest forethought or planning I created a big piece of Mrs. Dervain’s back story simply by assigning her name to this earlier character.

Immediately I began seeing Mrs. Dervain in a different light. Now that she had been merged with this earlier character her gestures and remarks seemed to resonate more deeply, revealing greater complexity in motivation and attitude. But her deepened character resulted from an arbitrary, even capricious move on my part. Had this earlier textual fragment involved a very different story line, merging the woman character into Mrs. Dervain would have turned her into a quite different person.

Awhile back I wrote a post about “cyranoids,” — people who, in conversation, speak words fed to them via earpiece from someone else. The cyranoids’ interlocutors invariably ascribe a whole and integrated personality to a flesh-and-blood individual who is voicing the thoughts of two, three, even ten different people.

A reader could decide that I, the writer, should have last say in asserting what Mrs. Dervain is really like. But I was just writing the words, making it up as I went along. Editing tidied up some loose ends and eliminated some inconsistencies, but this was just surface polishing. I don’t know Mrs. Dervain any better than any other reader of the book.

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46 Comments »

  1. ‘I don’t know Mrs. Dervain any better than any other reader of the book.’

    Nice. Reminds me of one of my favourite writers, the slight bewilderment plus a charmed slight pretentiousness. I love it that you went to those writers’ own-novel reading last year in those cafes, was it? that cracked me up. They rubbed in the sales to such degree you probably got a complex about ever taking any money again.

    Just read heaven post somewhere, somebody ‘upset’ about having their writing stolen. Lord, those are funny. I thought he meant me for a second, since he knows I’d do it if I thought it worthy of me, but I mean, quel horreur…. I’ve had to resort to stealing work recently, but it wasn’t that I didn’t want to give attribution, it was that the writer was a pervert! But there are some precincts I’d never steal from, althgogh I do understand that some might find it, um, useful. In the meantime, there can a Pity Party.

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    Comment by mark — 9 September 2009 @ 4:53 pm

  2. There’s so much that goes into the creative act – reader response. I remember my initial puzzlement (not much changed now, though safely categorized) at stuff like an author’s personas, and POVs, not to mention the other, receptive, half of the equation.

    You are rather different from the character obsessive type of author (a ROwling or Enid Blyton) that aim for longevity, internal coherence etc. I wonder whether the obsessiveness is necessary? Keats was certainly one who was very fluid in his creative flow, but no less effective in the end.

    As far as Ms. Dervain goes, perhaps that’s why there was somethin of a scizoid feeling about her. Is this actually that?

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    Comment by samcarr — 11 September 2009 @ 2:55 pm

  3. “You are rather different from the character obsessive type of author”

    It’s interesting, Sam, that you’re attributing a personality trait to me based on the way I went about writing that particular book. Maybe Mrs. Dervain is a little schizoid because the author is schizoid?

    The book explores the possibility of people channeling personalities other than their own, rather like the cyranoid idea in Milgram’s study. E.g., when Paul says “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me,” is Paul handing himself over to some other life force, allowing himself to be taken over? So I thought it fit the theme to leave Mrs. Dervain as a sort of projective canvas for the reader, such that the reader could impose a personality on her, as if she’s channeling the reader.

    The train of thought prompting this post was the earlier discussion of whether fictional characters are “real” or not. I was saying that I believe they are real as abstract created artifacts. But then the question is: who is the “real” Sherlock Holmes, or Popeye, or Mrs. Dervain? A reader has access to the words written about a character, and the reader assembles this concrete information into a whole person, the kind of person who would say and do the things described in the text. But that’s part of the illusion of fiction, that the character is deeper and fuller than the phenomena described in the book, that you’re getting just a glimpse of this character’s life in the events the author chooses to describe in the text. But where is this fuller and deeper character to be found? In the author’s imagination? In the reader’s?

    And so I wonder also about real people: who are they really? When I have a particularly intense conversation with another person, am I discovering some hidden truth about that person, or am I creating that truth and imposing it on the other? Don’t you get the sense sometimes that people you talk with are presenting a version of themselves to you that’s different from who they are with others? So who is this other person really? Are you drawing something out of this person that usually remains hidden to others, some aspect of this person’s truest and deepest self? Or does the person intuitively know what sort of thing you’re looking for in the relationship, and so s/he gives you what you want?

    Does a person’s true self always remain withdrawn from interactions, or is the true self an emergent property of those interactions? Self-administered personality inventories don’t correspond very well with others’ descriptions of what the person is like. And it turns out that others’ descriptions are more accurate than self-descriptions in predicting how someone will react to specific events. So do others know us better than we know ourselves? Or are we always presenting a false front, not just to other people but to events as well?

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    Comment by john doyle — 12 September 2009 @ 2:00 am

    • “So who is this other person really? Are you drawing something out of this person that usually remains hidden to others, some aspect of this person’s truest and deepest self?”

      So much depends on the nature of the self. I constantly have this problem in India. Here, wearing one’s heart on one’s sleeve is generally frowned upon. It has something to do with our population density and our inability to be constantly intense with so many people, and they with us. Conformity to some set of acceptable personality types is expected. But, America was much more open. There is some encouragement culturally to be who you really are. One of my disappointments was that this was more true of secular culture than it was in church. I still see Jesus as someone who bucked and questioned a lot of norms, and payed a high price for that. Paul, strangely, is much more a conformist than his lord and savior.

      I was spoiled by the feeling of freedom. Something inside me still rebels. But, as the years have rolled by I find myself less willing to let others be different. If they do not fit a ‘cultural’ norm, then that’s cause to be suspicious.

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      Comment by samcarr — 13 September 2009 @ 11:07 pm

    • Curiously, I felt I was most myself when I was an expatriate in France. I had a sense of being freed from the constraints of American expectations without being bound by French social norms. I also had a sense of solidarity with other expats, not just from the States but from everywhere.

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      Comment by john doyle — 14 September 2009 @ 4:47 pm

  4. Very interesting, and terrifying.

    Possibly related is when you see a look on someone’s face that isn’t them. Someone who you thought you were so familiar with, you knoew their face so intimately that when you see a look on their face that is alien, its the worst feeling ever. The mind just tries to erase the ‘false’ image from its memory. It’s like experience time out of joint.

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    Comment by tempustorm — 13 September 2009 @ 8:02 am

    • Seeing the alien in the other happens mostly in close and long-term relationships, don’t you think, tempustorm? Strangers can all look alien, in the sense of my being impenetrably distant from them. Casual acquaintances can show different facets of themselves to me, but it’s not too disconcerting since I’ve not yet assembled a whole person out of the fragments. It’s the intimate other who suddenly reveals something new, and especially something unpleasant, that induces terror.

      “The mind just tries to erase the ‘false’ image from its memory.”

      Yes, that’s certainly the instinct, to preserve the coherent whole while ignoring the anomalies. Perhaps that’s also why it’s hard to change or to bring out something new in yourself within the context of an intimate relationship — they have a hard time letting you be different. The end of intimacy is particularly terrifying, when the other goes cold and hard an unreadable, presenting a nearly inhuman surface with no access to depth at all.

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      Comment by john doyle — 13 September 2009 @ 11:03 am

      • Exactly.

        In Hitchcock’s Vertigo, Scotty experiences this kind of thing in reverse.
        We see he normative force of his desire when he tries to turn Judy (back)into Madeleine, and the terrifying force produced by Scotty’s desire when he can’t turn Judy into Madeleine.

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        Comment by tempustorm — 13 September 2009 @ 4:57 pm

    • Yes, it is the reverse. We presume that Judy is the “real” persona, but Scottie does succeed in forcing Judy back into the false Madeleine persona, doesn’t he? This is the death of her: his desire will not allow her to be who she really is. He desires the dead Madeleine, and in order to resurrect her he must kill the real Judy. Scottie can only love her when she’s dead, and doubly so: he can only love the persona who seeks her own death. For Judy to have become Madeleine she had to suppress her true self, but Scottie can only see the false image. It’s a complicated catastrophe.

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      Comment by john doyle — 13 September 2009 @ 9:21 pm

      • It is Hithcock’s most complicated film (of which I have seen) and the best works I know of dealing with anamnesis. Chris Marker, and excellent film maker in his own right, who’s brilliant La Jettee is a kind of ‘ sci-fi dystopian’ re-imagining of Vertigo, has an excellent essay on it:

        http://www.chrismarker.org/a-free-replay-notes-on-vertigo/

        He thinks that the film is about trying to revert back to a ‘simpler’ time (in San Francsisco) where men had ‘power’ and ‘freedom.’ Scotty tries to manifest this past by brining back the dead.

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        Comment by tempustorm — 14 September 2009 @ 9:10 am

      • This is a long post you’ve linked me to, tempustorm — I may have something further to observe after reading it, which might be later tonight.

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        Comment by john doyle — 14 September 2009 @ 4:49 pm

  5. ‘But that’s part of the illusion of fiction, that the character is deeper and fuller than the phenomena described in the book, that you’re getting just a glimpse of this character’s life in the events the author chooses to describe in the text. ‘

    I don’t see it that way, mainly it’s the mundane things that are left out or it won’t have any power. Because in most fiction you don’t have characters who live off the page, although they can be based on real people, etc, and even always surely are to some degree, even if not a specific one. But that could just be how we perceive these things, I see the fictional character usually as ‘deeper and fuller’, but I think I know what you mean: He’s in the service of the greater context of the whole novel, story, etc. A fictional character is like attractive pornography to some degree, which is a fragment of the whole person. But even there–usually, that’s the most arresting part, with the difference that if it’s a pornographic photo, he/she does live outside the photo, usually fairly active, if one may say. I always think the fiction character is more magnetic if only because, at least in a book, he has no other existence that is not simply more ‘implied fiction’, so you just add that part with your imagination, talk to the author, etc. Then there are those other kinds of fictional characters, such as appear all over the internet, that are like at masked balls. they won’t readily reveal themselves to you in their non-fictional forms (I mean ‘fictional’ in a fairly gross literal sense, if it gets too subtle it won’t really be possible to communicate it even if that has something valid to), to say their ‘legal identities’, because these are taken more seriously no matter what their fictionsl forms, whether because of matters of immediate personal welfare, or the sense that the ‘real person’ doesn’t live up to the promise of the fictional one, which is somewhat idealized. All movie and rock stars make of themselves fictions, which is natural, because to make it artistic it has to have an intensity of emphasis on something desirable or idealized.

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    Comment by Mark — 13 September 2009 @ 9:21 am

  6. But where is this fuller and deeper character to be found? In the author’s imagination? In the reader’s?

    Anywhere, and they’re all different.

    This is all good, and all have the same yes/no answers, and/or in between, don’t they?:

    ‘Don’t you get the sense sometimes that people you talk with are presenting a version of themselves to you that’s different from who they are with others?’

    But that goes without saying, doesn’t it?

    ‘So who is this other person really?’

    Oh dear.

    ‘Are you drawing something out of this person that usually remains hidden to others, some aspect of this person’s truest and deepest self?’

    If you’re good.

    ‘Or does the person intuitively know what sort of thing you’re looking for in the relationship, and so s/he gives you what you want?’

    If he’s able, but he may as easily ultimately prove to be inadequate. And this could last in this structure for awhile, then it shuts off because it didn’t come easily to ‘fake it’, to take the extreme type of case. But it’s also true that we can all mistake ‘what the person wants’, and ‘give them’ the unwanted thing. I personally have a terrible problem along these lines from my side, because I give the impression I am basically set in some of my desires and needs, and these seem fairly superficial, but I can’t stay with the superficial as long as even I think I can, so I’ll look elsewhere and fairly quickly when I see that I’m not getting satisfied because things are just going down a path toward diminishing returns. I do wonder if the concept of diminishing returns is not always in effect, though, just taking different form in different individuals. I do think I can give the impression of being much more ‘passive’ in certain ways than I am in truth, and that I can fake that longer than most who are not more like that by nature. But I’ve never been able to sustain it, so I guess with me, it takes a long time to get ‘the real person’, or something like that.

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    Comment by Mark — 13 September 2009 @ 9:40 am

  7. Novels are made from words; movies link words to images. What else can we use in understanding a real person? Touch, gaze, joint endeavor, reciprocity of concern. Maybe that’s enough because that’s all there is and all there can be. Every one of these points of access to another person can be manipulated in order to deceive. Good faith, mutual trust, the effort to let one’s guard down, the desire to see beyond the guardedness…

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    Comment by john doyle — 13 September 2009 @ 1:22 pm

  8. Perhaps it’s no different for a rock. I perceive an outward form and then internally categorize it as “rock”. This category is something that I and my language and my experience have put together already. I expect the rock to have a certain weight, a certain density, a certain hardness and grittiness, but until I pick up this particular rock, I don’t really know any of these actually exist. It doesn’t though make much difference to me, I’ve already constructed the rock character in my mind. Perhaps this is all that we do when we flesh out a character. We impose our experience of what ‘this type’ will be like, and then here in all the myriad but unspoken detail, is this now real person.

    It also connects with what you had pointed out about the unconscious, processing masses of detail yet only a tiny bit comes into the conscious. Perhaps, everything that is ‘normal’, ‘usual’, or ‘as expected’ simply does not need to be acknowledged and it’s just whatever is odd that sticks out to be investigated. Perhaps our general mode is to keep fleshing stuff out and then unconsciously waiting to see if it stays true to form.

    I do always present, or try to, a false front. I’m sure that I would like to project an idealised version of who I would like people to think I am. There’s also something in me that says ‘be honest’ but I can usually figure out how to shut that up when I need to. And, one does not expect duplicity from an author. Characters should run true to form, and so it is in most cases…

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    Comment by samlcarr — 13 September 2009 @ 3:03 pm

  9. Humorously, and anecdotally, my cat Princess who has lived with me all my life recently had a look on her face that I did not recognize to be hers. A look, even for a cat, does not ‘belong’ to it’s being, but being is expressed by it, in all of its heterogeneity.

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    Comment by tempustorm — 13 September 2009 @ 7:21 pm

  10. Your cat is demon possessed perhaps?

    “A look does not ‘belong’ to its being, but being is expressed by it” — that’s an intriguing remark. Usually I’m too present to distance myself from my look (though of course I can’t see how I look to others), but sometimes I’m aware that I’m presenting an alien look. I’m sitting back behind my eyes, wondering what effect my alien self-presentation is having on the other person. This is a kind of self-alienation that borders on cruelty, allowing my physical presence to act almost autonomously of my being. Perhaps this is how sociopaths do it? It’s curious, but in recent years I’ve come to recognize myself in the cinematic villains and losers and pathological cases, that I could easily manifest any number of selves “in all my heterogeneity” as you say, tempustorm.

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    Comment by john doyle — 13 September 2009 @ 9:11 pm

    • Your cat is demon possessed perhaps?

      Ha ha, didn’t think of that.

      Perhaps this is how sociopaths do it?

      What are you implying?!

      I’ve come to recognize myself in the cinematic villains and losers and pathological cases.

      All writer’s identify themselves in all of their good (as in well thought out) characters, wouldn’t you say?

      …allowing my physical presence to act almost autonomously of my being.

      In a certain Spinozist way, I would be say that inevitably things will be expressed on our countenance that are autonomous of our illusory ‘individual’ being.

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      Comment by tempustorm — 14 September 2009 @ 9:31 am

      • Oh no, you mean I have to learn even MORE Spinoza? Kvond has been indoctrinating me slowly. Even without Spinoza’s insights, I’m certain that emotion can register in expressions and behaviors and tones of voice outside of conscious awareness, so that other people can know how I’m feeling even before I do.

        But sometimes I can in effect watch myself emoting, distancing myself consciously from the emotion that I’m feeling and expressing. I feel a sense of hidden power in this self-presentation: I know that I could shut off the emotional expression if I wanted to, but I let it go on, in part to see what reaction from the other it elicits. I wonder if others ever experience this.

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        Comment by john doyle — 14 September 2009 @ 5:03 pm

  11. Perhaps you’d be interested in Goffman’s PRESENTATION OF EVERYDAY SELF which talkes about how we, like stage actors, manage our image, actions and “props,” minding the settings we are in. Also, how we must agree on the definition of a situation for it to have any coherence. I wonder if the stage actor is always experiencing what you describe to some degree.

    Pierre Bourdieu is has his own theory of practice of structure and agency which I haven’t explored, but want to.

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    Comment by tempustorm — 14 September 2009 @ 6:05 pm

  12. Oh no, you mean I have to learn even MORE Spinoza? Kvond has been indoctrinating me slowly.

    Ha ha, Kvond has been very helpful in aiding my comprehension as well. I have tried to read Spinoza in many wrongful ways, always neglecting this or that aspect of his thought, just failing to see how it works. Slowly is really the only way to get to know his thought, I think. Extremely slowly, and over a long period of time.

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    Comment by tempustorm — 14 September 2009 @ 6:11 pm

  13. Yes, I like Goffman’s book. It’s what Sam hsa been talking about, this playing of socially appropriate roles. The experience I was trying to convey has to do with socially inappropriate role-playing. E.g., I find myself pissed off at someone, calling him an asshole, etc. in heated tones, and yet back behind my hostile self-presentation I’m dispassionately observing myself, my anger, the impact I’m having on the other person. And then I persist with my inappropriate outburst, keeping the moment going, the discomfort of the encounter, the possible severing of relationship. This is some newer version of myself, having had enough of the niceties, even to my own peril, going to extremes and purposely going past the brink. But hey, that’s just me.

    Bourdieu I know nothing about. Also, I read the meditation on Vertigo — thanks for the link.

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    Comment by john doyle — 14 September 2009 @ 8:38 pm

    • Being steeped in psychology, I may be stating the ‘too’ obvious, but isn’t it odd that there’s the left-right and then at least 5 vertical layers, each of which is perhaps more than capable of ‘observing’ the others. I wonder how we keep it all together, or is that too just an illusion?

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      Comment by samcarr — 15 September 2009 @ 12:02 am

    • Lef-right: you mean the hemispheres, Sam? And the five vertical layers — what are they?

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      Comment by john doyle — 15 September 2009 @ 3:57 am

      • I’m not too good at this stuff. It’s not exactly anatomy anyway, but here goes –
        limbic system-amygdala
        hypothalamus-and associates
        thalamo-cortical loops
        prefrontal cortex, left frontal cortex (if there is an interpreter)
        everything else in the cortices

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        Comment by samcarr — 15 September 2009 @ 2:43 pm

      • I agree, Sam: there’s a lot of the “real” person that operates mostly outside of conscious awareness, sometimes pursuing agendas other than what we consciously decide and think. And then of course we’ve also got our sheer physicality, which can surprise us. I was recently reading that Augustine regarded the spontaneous erection as the definitive sign of corrupt human nature. Ideally reproduction should be an entirely rational affair, said Augustine, passion being the direct result of Adam and Eve’s fall.

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        Comment by john doyle — 15 September 2009 @ 6:47 pm

  14. Ah yes, I have had my share of just these kinds of experiences. I wonder to myself, how far am I going to go? My voice wavers but I must go on because it would be impossible to stop once you have started. I have even conciously realized that what I am about to say is a very wrong thing to say and still go on to say it! Never sounding entirely convincing (to myself atleast), but harmful all the same.

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    Comment by tempustorm — 14 September 2009 @ 8:44 pm

  15. “I wonder to myself, how far am I going to go?”

    Yes, that’s it. What the hell is wrong with us, tempustorm? And back to some of the earlier context, it seems that both the volatile extremist and the rational observer are parts of the “real self,” as is the radical split between them. This self-presentation must be quite disturbing to the other, like looking into the alien face of your cat.

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    Comment by john doyle — 14 September 2009 @ 8:59 pm

  16. This self-presentation must be quite disturbing to the other, like looking into the alien face of your cat.

    A hilarious sentence.

    I think, though, that it is not so disturbing to the other as it is to ourselves. Namely, because the other can shut you out while you must watch in horror as you loose hold of the reigns. Except those cases when the other has a rather naive relationship with you, and their essence is very much intwined with your own. I.e. if the other is in love with you.

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    Comment by tempustorm — 14 September 2009 @ 9:08 pm

    • Except those cases when the other has a rather naive relationship with you, and their essence is very much intwined with your own. I.e. if the other is in love with you.

      LOL, I love it. Without such advantageous moments, we’d never get any relief from ‘watching in horror as we loose hold of the reigns’.

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      Comment by Mark — 14 September 2009 @ 9:36 pm

  17. Is it possible to let yourself loose the reins and watch yourself not in horror but in self-admiration? Is it possible to cultivate a kind of connoisseurship of reins-loosening, such that you provoke the other into losing control strictly for your own amusement? I agree that the lover is, unfortunately, vulnerable to this sort of self-indulgent psychological aesthetic — some might call it abuse. Rarely does one encounter a kindred spirit in mutual provocation, although I suppose that’s the attraction of S&M. I presume it always devolves into a sort of tawdry and monotonous theater, requiring continual escalation and changing of partners to keep the spark glowing. Here we move beyond the realm of my personal experience, and I guess also beyond what attracts me — except perhaps voyeuristically. I detest costume parties, for example.

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    Comment by john doyle — 15 September 2009 @ 3:55 am

    • 17.Is it possible to let yourself loose the reins and watch yourself not in horror but in self-admiration?

      Some think so, then others don’t care for that position, sensation, whatever you’d call it, and reverse things–it’s not worth it. My point was that ‘the other can shut you out’, but that would be ‘the lover’, not ‘the beloved’ in the ‘naive relationship’, so that this had been written itself in a way that could seem provocative. Either could be switched here, because in the first case, although it’s not explicit, you wouldn’t care all that much if ‘the other shuts you out’ unless you had one of those ‘naive relationships’ in which your ‘personalities were entwined’. And who says the other really can shut you out except in specific forms? It’s only if you want something in a specific form, I think. Otherwise, you don’t necessarily have to find other partners, as you say, but rather find different uses if there is to be some meaning and no sense of ‘being shut out’. For example, the emphasis on the amorous is redirected into artistic production–there was no other choice but madness, say.

      ‘Is it possible to cultivate a kind of connoisseurship of reins-loosening, such that you provoke the other into losing control strictly for your own amusement?’

      Yes, of course, and I would primarily want to add that this can be done responsibly or irresponsibly, but it’s not always easy to tell which.

      I had meant to explain that my amusement expressed in the previous comment was about calling ‘being in love’ a ‘naive relationship’. This sounds very much of the current era, and perhaps a bit flip and trendy, maybe it’s even part of the ‘PoMo irony’. But it does not mean anything as such unless being in love quit being possible. But there’s an art to being in love, in which you don’t have to be abused, even if you take someone seriously. Some go for the abjectness, that’s not interesting to me, I just don’t know how to do it, since I’m already shameless enough, so I don’t tend to embarass easily. But I think it’s wrongly thought that if you’re in the thrall of someone else, you are ‘enslaved’ to them. Some are, of course, and S & M is also not of interest to me either. Actually, this is not necessarily an asset, because S & M does NOT seem to be ‘out of fashion’, and therefore the inability to cooperate with it is seen as archaic, I sometimes think. It’s not as though, however, that the only choices are extremes and ‘oppressive domesticity’. There are lots of things you can do.

      My serious objection is to talk of the ‘being in love’ as a ‘naive relationship’. It’s always part of anything amoreous or erotic, unless it’s purely impersonal, in which it doesn’t last by its very nature. I remember Susannah York’s one-woman ‘Shakespeare’s Women’ here in 2004, and she kept going on about ‘this anti-romantic era’, and I realized she was right. But I totally reject that idea of ‘in-love’ as being necessarily naive. It can be, of course, but it’s just that it’s more organic than that, and as if you had to slip through it so you could get to the well-adjusted ‘adult relationships’ in which you accept much of what you don’t really want to (necessary, of course, to do for all of us as well, I admit.)

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      Comment by mark — 15 September 2009 @ 9:19 am

      • if you’re in the thrall of someone else, you are ‘enslaved’ to them

        No, if you’re in the thrall of someone else you are excluded from them.

        Deleuze: “the interpreter of love’s signs is necessarily the interpreter of lies.”

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        Comment by tempustorm — 15 September 2009 @ 8:26 pm

  18. Perhaps “unguarded” rather than “naive,” but some sort of self-protection is perhaps always necessary even in love. (I realize this could be an ad for using condoms, but that’s not what I mean.)

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    Comment by john doyle — 15 September 2009 @ 11:53 am

  19. Naive as in ignorant, a lover is always more hurt when they find out that they have been lied to since their representation of the beloved is betrayed, yet the lover is ALWAYS being lied to.

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    Comment by tempustorm — 15 September 2009 @ 8:30 pm

    • Deleuze: “the interpreter of love’s signs is necessarily the interpreter of lies.”

      So you have proved something by quoting Deleuze? Tres etudiant.

      ‘yet the lover is ALWAYS being lied to.’

      Oh yeah? Where’d ya read that one? In the Plato book? Why, that sho’ly sounds like we all oughts to become some kind of Professional Beloveds, eh old boy? Mo’ money in it, get ourselves a Facebook account.

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      Comment by Mark — 15 September 2009 @ 9:09 pm

  20. You quoted me as saying:

    ‘if you’re in the thrall of someone else, you are ‘enslaved’ to them’

    but the whole sentence says:

    ‘But I think it’s wrongly thought that if you’re in the thrall of someone else, you are ‘enslaved’ to them.’

    Don’t ever misquote me like that again.

    ‘No, if you’re in the thrall of someone else you are excluded from them.’

    That would be the same, equally incorrect and merely silly and inexperienced. The sign of someone with little sexual experience, and mere cerebral irony-speak learned in your college.

    ‘Naive as in ignorant, a lover is always more hurt when they find out that they have been lied to since their representation of the beloved is betrayed, yet the lover is ALWAYS being lied to.’

    This is one of the worst things I have ever read. I said the ‘in love phenomenon’ is not a ‘naive relationship’, and so your talk of the ‘lover and the beloved’ is meaningless and quite meretricious. The ‘in love’ sensation is quite often reciprocal, but it sounds to me as if you clearly have not ever experienced it, and I do think this is becoming common, and I do mean common, don’t we? You just made stuff up. Also, two people are both quite easily in the thrall of each other, there is not only unrequited love. So you go to UNT? Where is that, Tennessee or North Texas, like in Denton?

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    Comment by Mark — 15 September 2009 @ 9:02 pm

    • I am bewildered by your anger in this response. I wonder why you asked my about where I go to school? I apologize for not doing justice, in your mind, to the experience of being love.

      Like

      Comment by tempustorm — 16 September 2009 @ 8:13 am

      • Your right, I wasn’t addressing the sensation of being in love at all, but interpretation of signs. If that is such a distasteful approach, or if I have come to such a wrong conclusion, then fine. I was not trying to say foreclose the possibilty of meaningful relations between people, not at all. I can understand why this might make you sigh, but I certainly don’t understand why I have angered you so.

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        Comment by tempustorm — 16 September 2009 @ 8:28 am

      • Oh good, you’re so SYMMETRICAL (lol), therefore here goes: Apology accepted, you must indeed do more justice, in my mind, to the experience of being in love.

        Actually, was not really angry at your apparent partial fatuity, was still working on something that had been left unresolved, precisely because of that ‘deflected, sublimated, redirected’ energy–this is quite possible, although if you’re impossibly primitive like me, even artistic production is not always as electrically charged as HOT SEX–with or without the ‘in love’ part! So maybe you made me interpret a single detail in a text I was working on a little more quickly than I would have otherwise–you may have saved me several precious hours! Tbat, plus while I was mulling over your wisdom, I watched ‘Seven’, the Andy Sedaris film with Bill Smith–so butch!

        I’ve got history in Denton, don’ worry ’bout ee..

        Like

        Comment by Mark — 16 September 2009 @ 8:43 am

      • you asked my about where I go to school?

        That’s good, I did ask your ‘ABOUT’ where you went to school. Keep it up, you’re pretty cute.

        Like

        Comment by Mark — 16 September 2009 @ 8:56 am

  21. Okay, hee hee, sorry, I was too rough trade on that one, just point being that sometimes the beloved cuts the crap, although most don’t, you know.

    Like

    Comment by Mark — 15 September 2009 @ 10:22 pm

    • Apology accepted, although I am not so sure why you have been so offended. I wasn’t trying to say your experiences have been ingenuine. I did not meen to deliberately misquote, attack, or show off.

      Like

      Comment by tempustorm — 16 September 2009 @ 8:19 am

  22. Well of course each of us is entitled to interpret whatever life we’ve lived so far. There are things I’ve learned as well as things I’ve forgotten.

    Like

    Comment by john doyle — 16 September 2009 @ 5:21 am

  23. f that is such a distasteful approach,

    Distasteful if it’s the only one you use. Because not everybody is reading the same big tomes you are at the same time, and ‘being in love’ is a thing that is generally understood not to mean immediate reference to ‘Proust and Signs’ OR otherwise.

    ‘I was not trying to say foreclose the possibilty of meaningful relations between people, not at all.’

    That’s good to know.

    ‘I can understand why this might make you sigh, but I certainly don’t understand why I have angered you so.’

    I don’t know how to do the ‘Sigh’ thing, whether in life or on the internet, it’s just not in my Deleuzian slumber of a lexicon. The only thing that angered me was your taking a piece of sentence and quoting it, that’s the kind of thing that is usually done only on frenzied chat boards, which aren’t very Deleuzian or much of anything else. We need not discuss that further, as I’m sure you did that, as everything else, quite innocently enough…

    Like

    Comment by Mark — 16 September 2009 @ 8:53 am

  24. The accusation is that I was being thoughtless in my repsonse to your original objection, and your right. I didn’t take your response all that must into account and brushed it aside. Thanks for not letting me get away with it. I don’t want to go on picking this apart anymore, if you do, then i’ll let you have the last word.

    Like

    Comment by tempustorm — 16 September 2009 @ 9:31 am


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