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Lecture on Time and Love: How it is Possible to Make Promises



G. F. Watts, Orpheus and Eurydice, Walker Galler, Liverpool

I.    Problem of Promises
a.   What do we mean when we say “I will love you forever”?
b.   Promises:
                             i.   Not I will try to love you; not a We’ll see
                             ii.  Certain: I love you today and I will love you tomorrow. 
c.   Problem: But how can we be certain of that?
                              i.   We do not know what will happen tomorrow
                              ii.   Knowledge and certainty: only based on past and present
                                         1.   Past: already finished, fixed, I possess it
2.   Present: I feel it, it is here, I have it.
3.   But the future? I have not yet experienced it, I still do not know, I do not have it.
                              iii.   So how can I promise something that I still do not know? How can I promise to give what I do not have?
d.  Problem with forever
                               i.   Negative concepts: what we experience are temporal things, things that begin and end; Aristotle: time as duration between beginning and end, and feeling of time as endurance.
                                      —same with relationships: they begin, and can / do end. 
                                      —so how can anyone promise forever when we have no experience of time that does not end?


II.    Beginnings of love
a.   How does love begin? What do we experience
                       1. "Kilig," joy, happiness, bliss, peace, assurance, etc.
b.   Why do we feel this things?
1.   The beloved possesses certain characteristics that make me happy, he does certain things that I like of find "attractive"
c.   Question: What do you look for in a guy? What are the qualities you look for? What is your picture of the "ideal man"?
1.   Certain set of characteristics:
2.   Smart, kind, good natured, faithful, simple, funny,
3.   We have certain characteristics in mind        
a.   These decide whether I become attracted to a person.
b.   These I think are what will make me happy
d.   Problem 1: Characteristics change or disappear
                                              i.     What if the person I love changes? Loses the characteristics I enjoy?
1.   Not good-looking anymore, unfaithful, turns out to be unkind, doesn’t love me anymore?
                                            ii.     My emotions can quickly change or disappear
1.   “No emotion, any more than a wave, can long retain its own individual form” –Henry Ward Beecher
                                          iii.     No more emotions: No more love
1.   End of relationships: what I used to feel is no longer there: no more happiness
e. Problem 2: What I enjoy are the characteristics and not the person
1.   Enjoyment : caused or "triggered" by a certain set of characteristics or qualities
2.   Phenomenology
a.   Lived experience of consciousness: What I feel, what I experience
b.   Intentional object: the other who possesses there qualities which cause me to feel in a certain way
                                                                     i.     E.g., flame of candle: What do I really experience?
                                                                     ii.     E.g., favorite food: what you like is the taste of the food, not the food itself
3.   Danger: What I love is the feeling within me, and not the other person
a.   Beloved:
                                                                       i.     Only accidental, could be anyone
                                                                       ii.    He just so happened to possess the characteristics I enjoy the most
                                                     b. Jean-Luc Marion: "Whence the infernal paradox, universally sufferd by all unfortunate loves as their definitive fatality: when I love, what I experience of the other, in the end, in reality arises from my consciousness alone; what I call love of anther bears only on certain lived experiences of my consciousness, inexplicably provoked, in the best of cases, by a chance that I call the other, but the other is not. Love appears as an optical illusion of my consciousness, which experiences itself alone"
f.   Problem 3: Characteristics come in advance from me
1.   Glass slipper, measuring stick, mold that I predetermine even before I meet the beloved
2.   I look for who will fulfill my desire (search for happiness)  and make me complete
                                                          i.     Plato's androgynous beings
                                                          ii.     Shel Silverstein's The Missing Piece
III.  Sensual love : Autism of Love
                    a.     Sensual love—love of the sensation, not of the person
                                         1.   Love of feeling / what I see / what I experience
                                                   -->     Autistic: Alone
                 1.   E.g., masturbation and making love
          Is there a difference? I experience the same feeling, sensation, difference is there is another person when making love; but same sensation, maybe just heightened
                    b.   What I love is myself
1.   Narcissus and Echo; I use the other as an "invisible mirror" where I see myself
        -- Those I am usually attracted to look like me (sometimes literally), possess the same qualities I have (smart, tall, rich)
       --- Even those who are totally unlike me I choose based on who I am, I just invert my qualities in order to fulfill what I lack or what I want to become; "opposities attract"
      --- And if the other is different, I try to make him like me (dress up, teach manners, etc.)
       --- "Compatibility"; Aristotle: "like is known by like"; anyone who doesn't appear to be like me I do not even notice
2. Thus love becomes nothing other than "self-love"
      ---Matthew 5:46-47: If you love those who love you, what reward do you deserve? Do not the tax-collectors do as much? And if you hail only your brethren what have you done that is so special? Do not gentiles do so much? 
               Transition: How do I then begin to love the other?
                            --If I only love him because of his characteristics that I see, feel, then perhaps true love begins when you no longer see the person or experience him
                            -- Trick is to get to that point when the beloved becomes invisible to you, "unexperiencable"


IV.  Love without Seeing
a.   Orpheus and Eurydice
                        1.   Had to see Eurydice walk behind him as they were leaving Hades:  pleasure and assurance of vision and sensation; looking for security, wanting to see if the beloved still loves us
2.   When we still see the beloved, we lose them
3.   The beloved must be invisible
b.   “Love is blind and lovers do not see”—Shakespeare
1.   Because love is blind, it is able to see what is invisible: the person itself and as such--greatest joy: to be able to say "You saw me"--who I am and not what I am 
2.   It does not see what is visible—characteristics
a.   Old lovers seldom look at each other
b.   “Love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward in the same direction” (Little Prince)
3.   Others are blind; only you see the invisible beloved
a.   That is why others cannot understand why we love someone because they do not see what we see
4.   Love is 20/20: But love is so clear to us—without a reason, without a why
a.   We know why it is her and not another; and one can only begin to see if one first loves. Love gives vision, clarifies it. If you do not love, you do not see.
b.  And beginning to love without out yet knowing or seeing requires something else--faith and hope

V.    Faith, Hope and Love: The three theological virtues
                     a.    Love is not enough; it is wise by faith and guided by hope
                                --Love without faith: uncertain
                                --Love without hope: momentary
                       b.   Love and the future: Faith and Hope both pertain to the future:
1.   I do not need to have faith in something I see now
2.   I do not need to hope for something I have now
   c.   Promises: aim for future: seeing without seeing the future (hope), knowing  that love will not fail me in the future  (faith)
                        --To love alone is easy, it just has to do loving acts in the present; problem is love usually loves what is sees and experiences in the present; but it is an altogether different thing when you already promise to love in the future
   d.   But knowing how to make promises takes time
                                            1. Cannot be rushed: Knowing how to love is easier than knowing how to have faith and hope. This is where the young can be mistaken.
  2.   Descartes: we only make mistakes because we rush
                                                     -- Mistakes—to mis-take him or her as someone who I will love in the future, as someone I can have faith in and hope with.
                                                    -- Usually, we envision a future based on the past and present--whereas the point is to let the future inform and give meaning to the present. 

For Nicole
15 February 2012
Miriam College



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