watch sky sports uk online free for the shoes essays in love alain de botton free download that I therefore had to point out this blemish, something I would never have done with a essays in love alain de botton free download whose departures from my ideal would have been too numerous to begin with, a friendship in esays the concept of an ideal would never even have entered into my thinking. Theorists of love have tended to be rightly suspicious of fusion, their olve stemming from the sense that it is easier to impute similarity than investigate difference. At the moment when I most wanted language to be original, personal, and completely private, I came up against the irrevocably esdays essays in love alain de botton free download of emotional communication. It was a privilege to be curled up in Chloe's inner sanctum, looking at the objects that made up her daily life, at the walls she woke to every morning, at her alarm clock, a packet of aspirins, her watch and her earrings on frfe bedside table. Get books you want.">
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The reader can be spared the full melodrama, it suffices to say that moments later, the tempest that had been brewing reached a climax, Chloe took off one of the offensive shoes, supposedly so as to let me look at it, but more realistically, to murder me with it, I chose to duck the incoming projectile, it crashed through the window behind me and fell down to the street, where it impaled itself in the rubbish area in the remains of a neighbour's chicken madras.
Our argument was peppered with the paradoxes of love and liberalism. What did it really matter what Chloe's shoes were like? There were so many other wonderful sides to her, was it not spoiling the game to arrest my gaze on this detail?
Why could I not have politely lied to her as I might have done to a friend? My only excuse lay in the claim that I loved her, that she was my ideal save for the shoes and that I therefore had to point out this blemish, something I would never have done with a friend whose departures from my ideal would have been too numerous to begin with, a friendship in which the concept of an ideal would never even have entered into my thinking.
Because I loved her, I told her therein lay my sole defence. In our more expansive moments, we imagine romantic love to be akin to Christian love, an uncritical, expansive emotion that declares I will love you for everything that you are, a love that has no conditions, that draws no boundaries, that adores every last shoe, that is the embodiment of acceptance.
But the arguments that hound lovers are a reminder that Christian love is not prone to survive a move into the bedroom. Its message seems more suited to the universal than the particular, to the love of all men for all women, to the love of two neighbours who will not hear each other snoring.
Though it was not always a matter for glaziers, illiberalism was never one sided. There were a thousand things about me that drove Chloe to distraction: Why was I so bored by the theatre?
Why did I insist on wearing a coat that looked a century old? Why did I always knock the duvet off the bed in my sleep? Why did I think Saul Bellow was such a great writer? Why had I not yet learnt how to park a car without leaving most of the wheel on the pavement?
Why did I constantly put my feet on the pillows? These were the ingredients of the domestic gulag, the daily attempts to tug each other closer to our ideals. And what excuse was there for this?
Nothing but the old line that parents and politicians will use before taking out their scalpels: I care about you, therefore I will upset you, I have honoured you with a vision of how you should be, therefore I will hurt you.
Chloe and I would never have been as brutal to our friends as we were to one another. But we equated intimacy with a form of ownership and licence. We may have been kind, yet we were no longer polite. When we started arguing one night about the films of Eric Rohmer she hated them, I loved them , we forgot there was a chance Rohmer's films could be both good and bad depending on who was watching them.
She degenerated into calling me 'a stuffy over-intellectual turd', I reciprocated by judging her 'a degenerate product of modern capitalism' proving her accusation in the process. Politics seems an incongruous field to link to love, but can we not read, in the bloodstained histories of the French, Fascist, or Communist revolutions, something of the same coercive structure, the same impatience with diverging views fuelled by passionate ideals? Amorous politics begins its infamous history with the French Revolution, when it was first proposed with all the choice of a rape that the state would not just govern but also love its citizens, who would respond likewise or face the guillotine.
The beginning of revolutions is psychologically strikingly akin to that of certain relationships: the stress on unity, the sense of omnipotence, the desire to eliminate secrets with the fear of the opposite soon leading to lover's paranoia and the creation of a secret police. But if the beginnings of love and amorous politics are equally rosy, then the ends are often equally bloody.
We're familiar with political love that ends in tyranny, where a ruler's firm conviction that he has the true interests of his nation at heart ends up lending him the confidence to murder without qualms and 'for their own good' all who disagree with him. Romantic lovers are similarly inclined to vent their frustration on dissenters and heretics. A few days after the shoe incident, I went to the newsagent to pick up a paper and a carton of milk. Mr Paul told me he'd just run out of the semi-skimmed variety, but that if I could wait a moment, he'd get another crate in from the storeroom.
Watching him walk out towards the back of the shop, I noticed that Mr Paul was wearing a pair of thick grey socks and brown leather sandals. Why could I not remain similarly composed in the face of Chloe's shoes? Why could I not enjoy the same cordiality with the woman I loved as with the newsagent who sold me my daily rations? The wish to replace the butcher-butchered relationship with a newsagent-customer one has long dominated political thinking.
Why could rulers not act politely towards their citizens, tolerating sandals, dissent, and divergence? The answer from liberal thinkers is that cordiality can arise only once rulers give up talk of governing for the love of their citizens, and concentrate instead on ensuring sensible, minimal governance. Liberal politics finds its greatest apologist in John Stuart Mill, who in published a classic defence of loveless liberalism, On Liberty, a ringing plea that citizens should be left alone by governments, however well meaning they were, and not be told how to lead their personal lives, what gods to worship or books to read.
Mill argued that though kingdoms and tyrannies felt themselves entitled to hold 'a deep interest in the whole bodily and mental discipline of every one of its citizens', the modern state should as far as possible stand back and let people govern themselves. Like a harassed partner in a relationship who begs simply to be given space, Mill ventured: The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good, in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized society against his will is to prevent harm to others.
His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant. The wisdom of Mill's thesis is such that one might want to see it applied to relationships as much as to governments.
However, on reflection, applied to the former, it seems to lose much of its appeal. It evokes certain marriages, where love has evaporated long ago, where couples sleep in separate bedrooms, exchanging the occasional word when they meet in the kitchen before work, where both partners have long ago given up hope of mutual understanding, settling instead for a tepid friendship based on controlled misunderstanding, politeness while they get through the evening's shepherd's pie, 3 a.
We seem to be thrown back on a choice between love and liberalism. The sandals of the newsagent didn't annoy me because I didn't care for him, I wished to get my paper and milk and leave. I didn't wish to cry on his shoulder or bare my soul, so his footwear remained unobtrusive. But had I fallen in love with Mr Paul, could I really have continued to face his sandals with equanimity, or would there not have come a point when out of love I would have cleared my throat and suggested an alternative?
If my relationship with Chloe never reached the levels of the Terror, it was perhaps because she and I were able to temper the choice between love and liberalism with an ingredient that too few relationships and even fewer amorous politicians Lenin, Pol Pot, Robespierre have ever possessed, an ingredient that might just were there enough of it to go around save both states and couples from intolerance: a sense of humour.
It seems significant that revolutionaries share with lovers a tendency towards terrifying earnestness. It is as hard to imagine cracking a joke with Stalin as with Young Werther. Both of them seem desperately, though differently, intense. With the inability to laugh comes an inability to acknowledge the contradictions inherent in every society and relationship, the multiplicity and clash of desires, the need to accept that one's partner will never learn how to park a car, or wash out a bath or give up a taste for Joni Mitchell - but that one cares for them rather a lot nevertheless.
If Chloe and I overcame certain of our differences, it was because we had the will to make jokes of the impasses we found in each other's characters. I could not stop hating Chloe's shoes, she continued to like them I was sent down to pick the left one up and give it a clean , but we at least found room to turn the incident into a joke. By threatening to 'defenestrate' ourselves whenever arguments became heated, we were always sure to draw a laugh and neutralize a frustration.
My driving techniques could not be improved, but they earned me the name 'Alain Prost'; Chloe's attempts at martyrdom I found wearing, but less so when I could respond to them by calling her 'Joan of Arc'.
Humour meant there was no need for a direct confrontation; we could glide over an irrirant, winking at it obliquely, making a criticism without needing to spell it out. Humour lined the walls of irritation between our ideals and the reality: behind every joke, there was a warning of difference, of disappointment even, but it was a difference that had been defused - and could therefore be passed over without the need for a pogrom.
Does beauty give birth to love or does love give birth to beauty? Did I love Chloe because she was beautiful or was she beautiful because I loved her? Surrounded by an infinite number of people, we may ask staring at our lover while they talk on the phone or lie opposite us in the bath why our desire has chosen to settle on this particular face, this particular mouth or nose or ear, why this curve of the neck or dimple in the cheek has come to answer so precisely to our criterion of perfection?
Every one of our lovers offers different solutions to the problem of beauty, and yet succeeds in redefining our notions of attractiveness in a way that is as original and as idiosyncratic as the landscape of their face. If Marsilio Ficino defined love as 'the desire for beauty', in what ways did Chloe fulfil this desire? To listen to Chloe, in no way whatever.
No amount of reassurance could persuade her that she was anything but loathsome. She insisted on finding her nose too small, her mouth too wide, her chin uninteresting, her ears too round, her eyes not green enough, her hair not wavy enough, her breasts too small, her feet too large, her hands too wide, and her wrists too narrow. She would gaze longingly at the faces in the pages of Elle and Vogue and declare that the concept of a just God was in the light of her physical appearance simply an incoherence.
Chloe believed that beauty could be measured according to an objective standard, one she had simply failed to reach. Without acknowledging it as such, she was resolutely attached to a Platonic concept of beauty, an aesthetic she shared with the world's fashion magazines and which fuelled a daily sense of self-loathing in front of the mirror. According to Plato and the editor of Vogue, there exists such a thing as an ideal form of beauty, made up of a balanced relation between parts, and which earthly bodies will approximate to a greater or a lesser degree.
There is a mathematical basis for beauty, Plato suggested, so that the face on the front cover of a magazine is necessarily rather than coincidentally pleasing.
Whatever mathematical errors there were in her face, Chloe found the rest of her body even more unbalanced. Whereas I loved to watch soapy water running over her stomach and legs in the shower, whenever she looked at herself in the mirror she would invariably declare that something was 'lopsided' though quite what I never discovered.
Leon Battista Alberti might have known better, for he believed that any beautiful body had fixed proportions which he spelt out mathematically after dividing the body of a beautiful Italian girl into six hundred units, then working out the distances from section to section. Summing up his results in his book On Sculpture, Alberti defined beauty as 'a Harmony of all the Parts, in whatsoever Subject it appears, fitted together with such proportion and connection, that nothing could be added, diminished or altered, but for the worse'.
But according to Chloe, however, almost anything about her body could have been added, diminished, or altered without spoiling anything that nature had not already devastated. Clearly Plato and Leon Battista Alberti had neglected something in their aesthetic theories, for I found Chloe excessively beautiful.
Did I like her green eyes, her dark hair, her full mouth? I hesitate to try and pin down her appeal. Discussions of physical beauty have some of the futility of debates between art historians attempting to justify the relative merits of different artists. A Van Gogh or a Gauguin? One might try to redescribe the work in language 'the lyrical intelligence of Gauguin's South Sea skies The language of the eye stubbornly resists translation into the language of words. It was not beauty that I could hope to describe, only my personal response to Chloe's appearance.
I could simply point out where my desire had happened to settle, while allowing the possibility that others would locate comparable perfection in quite other beings. In so doing, I was forced to reject the Platonic idea of an objective criterion of beauty, siding instead with Kant's view, as expressed in his Critique of Judgement, that aesthetic judgements are ones 'whose determining ground can be none other than subjective'.
The loving way that I gazed at Chloe functioned like a pair of outward arrows, which give an ordinary line a semblance of length it might not objectively deserve. A definition of beauty that more accurately summed up my feelings for Chloe was delivered by Stendhal. I did not see the gap between her two front teeth [see figure] as an offensive deviation from an ideal arrangement, but as an original and most love-worthy redefinition of dental perfection.
I was not simply indifferent to the gap in between the teeth: I positively adored it. I took pride in finding Chloe more beautiful than a Platonist would have done. The most interesting faces generally oscillate between charm and crookedness. There is a tyranny about perfection, a certain tedium even, something that asserts itself with all the dogmatism of a scientific formula. The more tempting kind of beauty has only a few angles from which it may be seen, and then not in all lights and at all times.
As Proust once said, classically beautiful women should be left to men without imagination. My imagination enjoyed playing in the space between Chloe's teeth.
Her beauty was fractured enough that it could support creative rearrangements. In its ambiguity, her face could have been compared to Wittgenstein's duck-rabbit, where both a duck and a rabbit seem contained in the same image. Much depends on the attitude of the viewer: if the imagination is looking for a duck, it will find one, if it is looking for a rabbit, it will appear instead. What counts is the predisposition of the viewer.
It was of course love that was generously predisposing me. The editor of Vogue might have had difficulty including photos of Chloe in an issue, but this was only a confirmation of the uniqueness that I had managed to find in my girlfriend. I had animated her face with her soul.
The danger with the kind of beauty that does not look like a Greek statue is that its precariousness places much emphasis on the viewer. Once the imagination decides to remove itself from the gap in the teeth, is it not time for a good orthodontist? Once we locate beauty in the eye of the beholder, what will happen when the beholder looks elsewhere? But perhaps that was all part of Chloe's appeal. A subjective theory of beauty makes the observer wonderfully indispensable.
In the middle of May, Chloe celebrated her twenty-fourth birthday. But in the course of preparing a card, I suddenly realized that I had never told Chloe that I loved her.
A declaration would perhaps not have been unexpected, yet the fact that it had never been made was significant. Pullovers may be a sign of love between a man and a woman, but we had yet to translate our feelings into language.
It was as though the core of our relationship, configured around the word love, was somehow unmentionable, either too evident or too significant to be uttered. It was simple to understand why Chloe had never said anything.
She was suspicious of words. I remembered her telling me that, when she was twelve, her parents had sent her on a camping holiday. There she had fallen in love with a boy her age, and after much blushing and hesitation, they had ended up taking a walk around a lake. By a shaded bank, the boy had asked her to sit down, and after a moment, had taken her damp hand in his.
It was the first time a boy had held her hand. She had been so elated, she had felt free to tell him, with all the earnestness of a twelve-year-old, that he was 'the best thing that had ever happened to her'.
The next day, she discovered that her words had spread all over the camp. A group of girls chanted mockingly 'the best thing that ever happened to me' when she came into the dining hall, her honest declaration replayed in a mockery of her vulnerability.
She had experienced a betrayal at the hands of language, the way intimate words may be converted to a common currency, and had since hidden behind a veil of practicality and irony.
With her customary resistance to the rose-tinted, Chloe would therefore probably have shrugged off a declaration with a joke, not because she did not want to hear, but because any formulation would have seemed dangerously close both to complete clich and total nakedness. It was not that Chloe was unsentimental, she was just too discreet with her emotions to speak about them in the worn, social language of the romantic.
Though her feelings may have been directed towards me, in a curious sense, they were not for me to know. My pen was still hesitating over the card a giraffe was blowing out candles on a heart-shaped cake.
I tried to imagine what she would make of the words I might hand her, I pictured her thinking about them on the way to work or in the bath, pleased but reluctant even to savour her own satisfaction. Yet the difficulty of a declaration of love opens up quasi-philosophical concerns about language. If I told Chloe that I had a stomach ache or a garden full of daffodils, I could count on her to understand.
Naturally, my image of a be-daffodiled garden might slightly differ from hers, but there would be reasonable parity between the two images. Words would operate as reliable messengers of meaning. But the card I was now trying to write had no such guarantees attached to it. The words were the most ambiguous in the language, because the things they referred to so sorely lacked stable meaning.
Certainly travellers had returned from the heart and tried to represent what they had seen, but love was in the end like a species of rare coloured butterfly, often sighted, but never conclusively identified.
The thought was a lonely one: of the error one may find over a single word, an argument not for linguistic pedants, but of desperate importance to lovers who need to make themselves understood. Chloe and I could both speak of being in love, and yet this love might mean significantly different things within each of us. We had often read the same books at night in the same bed, and later realized that they had touched us in different places: that they had been different books for each of us.
Might the same divergence not occur over a single love-line? I felt like a dandelion releasing hundreds of spores into the air - and not knowing if any of them would get through.
The whole language of love had been corrupted by overuse. When I listened to the radio in the car, my love fed effortlessly off the love songs that happened to be playing, for example, off the passion of a black American female singer, whose accent I took on I was on an empty motorway while Chloe became the lady's 'baby'.
Wouldn't it be nice! To hold you in my arms! And love you, baby? Oh yeah and I say, I do,! I say I love you baby? How much of what I thought I felt for Chloe had been influenced by songs like these?
Was my sense of being in love not just the result of living in a particular cultural epoch? Was it not society, rather than any authentic urge, that was motivating me to pride myself on romantic love?
In previous cultures and ages, would I not have been taught to ignore my feelings for Chloe in the way I was now taught to ignore more or less the impulse to wear stockings or to respond to insult with a challenge to a duel? I was due to take Chloe to a Chinese restaurant in Camden, but declarations of love might have seemed more appropriate elsewhere given the scant regard traditionally given to love in Chinese culture.
According to the psychological anthropologist L. Hsu, whereas Western cultures are 'individual-centred' and place great emphasis on emotions, in contrast, Chinese culture is 'situation-centred' and concentrates on groups rather than couples and their love though the manager of the Lao Tzu was nevertheless delighted to take my booking. Love is never a given, it is constructed and defined by different societies. In at least one society, the Manu of New Guinea, there is not even a word for love.
In other cultures, love exists, but is given distinctive forms. Ancient Egyptian love poetry had no interest in the emotions of shame, guilt, or ambivalence. The Greeks thought nothing of homosexuality, Christianity proscribed the body, the Troubadours equated love with unrequited passion, the Romantics made love into a religion, and the perhaps not- very-happily married S.
Greenfield, in an article in the Sociological Quarterly which I had picked up at the dentist I don't know what it was doing there either , wrote that love is today kept alive by modern capitalism only in order to:!
The sickness, nausea, and longing that I had at times felt at the thought of Chloe might in some societies have been identified as signs of a religious experience. When St Teresa of Avila , founder of the Discalced Carmelite Order, had a visit from an angel, she described an encounter which it would take a particularly open contemporary mind not to identify with an orgasm:!
The angel was very beautiful, his face was so aflame that he appeared to be one of the highest types of angels who seem to be all afire In his hands I saw a golden spear and at the end of the iron tip I seemed to see a point of fire.
With this he seemed to pierce my heart several times so that it penetrated my entrails The pain was so sharp that it made me utter several moans; and so excessive was the sweetness caused me by this intense pain that one can never wish to lose it, nor will one's soul be content with anything less than God. In the end, I decided that a card with a giraffe might not be the best place to articulate my feelings and that I should wait till dinner.
At around eight, I drove to Chloe's apartment to pick her up and give her the present. She was delighted to find that I had heard her hints about the Piccadilly window, the only regret tactfully delivered a few days later was that it had been the blue and not the red pullover she'd really been pointing to though receipts gave us a second chance, after I had tried to but been desisted from throwing myself out of the window.
The restaurant could not have been more romantic. All around us in the Lao Tzu, couples much like ourselves though our subjective sense of uniqueness did not allow us to think so were holding hands, drinking wine, and fumbling with chopsticks a neighbour's cashew nut came at one point to rest on Chloe's lap. I've been so depressed all day,' said Chloe. But actually, I think this one's turning out to be not so bad in the end.
In fact, it's pretty all right, thanks to a little help from my friend. She looked up at me and smiled. It was awful, I kept having to go to the bathroom to cry, I was so upset that it was my birthday and the only person who'd invited me out was my aunt with this irritating stutter who couldn't stop telling me she didn't understand how a nice girl like me didn't have a man in her life.
So it's probably no bad thing I ran into you She really was adorable thought the lover, a most unreliable witness in such matters. But how could I tell her so in a way that would suggest the distinctive nature of my attraction? Words like love or devotion or infatuation were exhausted by the weight of successive love stories, by the layers imposed on them through the uses of others.
At the moment when I most wanted language to be original, personal, and completely private, I came up against the irrevocably public nature of emotional communication. The restaurant was of no help, for its romantic setting made love too conspicuous, hence insincere. There was a recording of Chopin's Nocturnes over the loudspeakers and a heart-shaped candle on the table. We overheard a man at the next table perhaps a Darwinist joking it should have been a penis. There seemed to be no way to transport love in the word L-O-V-E without at the same time throwing the most banal associations into the basket.
The word was too rich in foreign history: everything from the Troubadours to Casablanca had cashed in on the letters. Was it not my duty to be the author of my own feelings? Would I not have to fashion a declaration with a uniqueness to match Chloe's?
I felt disconcertingly aware of the mundanity of our situation: a man and a woman, lovers, celebrating a birthday in a Chinese restaurant, one night in the Western world, somewhere towards the end of the twentieth century. No, my meaning could never make the journey in L-O-V-E. It would have to seek alternative transportation.
Then I noticed a small plate of complimentary marsh- mallows near Chloe's elbow and it suddenly seemed clear that I didn't love Chloe so much as marshmallow her. What it was about a marshmallow that should suddenly have accorded so perfectly with my feelings towards her I will never know, but the word seemed to capture the essence of my amorous state with an accuracy that the word love, weary with overuse, simply could not aspire to.
From then on, love was, for Chloe and me at least, no longer simply love, it was a sugary, puffy object a few millimetres in diameter that melts deliciously in the mouth. Summer flew in with the first week of June, making a Mediterranean city of London, drawing people from their homes and offices into the parks and squares. The heat coincided with the arrival of a new colleague at work, an American architect, who had been hired to spend six months working with us on an office complex near Waterloo.
I had met William Knott five years before, when we had both spent a year together on scholarships at Yale. Report Close Quick Download Go to remote file.
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