Pale Wire (Popscene)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Drrty Mind

So, to borrow a Carver-ism, what do we talk about when we talk about love?

I wrote a while back about how I read Haruki Murakami's depiction of romantic love (I'm talking exclusively about the falling-in-love, two partner Eros thing here) in his novels. After reading Mrs. Dalloway, I think Ginny may be on the same page.

While they have their differences, both show romantic love as something starkly different from what I get out of most American cultural artifacts and myths. Love, in what I'll venture to call the American sense, fulfills us. Whether we're talking Sex in the City, Sideways or Seventh Heaven, it's a rite of passage that bridges the gap to stable adulthood. It is something that's sought and savored. It is a light going on, an explosion of color and, of course, a birthright.

In Woolf's novel, love is something else, which I guess we'll call the European version. To Peter Walsh, Clarissa Dalloway and the other inhabitants of Woolf's London, love is a certainly a powerful force, but not always a positive one. It's a maddening drive that compells acts both noble and juvenile, causing more problems than it solves; an irresitable urge that drives us to odd and often destructive ends. But beautiful all the same. Like the pleasures and pratfalls of the other fatalist pursuits -- fashion, food and friends -- it's often more trouble that it's worth. Yet it provides music if not meaning where otherwise they would be only a quiet desperation.

Lennon/McCartney was wrong. Love isn't all we need. It's all we got.

Maybe sorting this out is as simple as saying it's Old World values vs. Modern World values. I don't know. You got a definition? I'm just riffing here. It's late.

Jarvis, back me up.

Pulp - "F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E."