Waggish

Georg Simmel on Love

During the first stages of the relationship there is a great temptation, both in marriage and in marriage-like free love, to let oneself be completely absorbed by the other, to send the last reserves of the soul after those of the body, to lose oneself to the other without reservation. Yet, in most cases, this abandon probably threatens the future of the relationship seriously. Only those individuals can give themselves wholly without danger who cannot wholly give themselves, because their wealth consists in a continuous development in which every abandon is at once followed by new treasures. Such individuals have an inexhaustible reservoir of latent psychological possessions, and hence can no more reveal and give them away at one stroke than a tree can give away next year’s fruits with those of the season. But other individuals are different. With every flight of feeling, with every unconditional abandonment, with every revelation of heir inner life, they make inroads (as it were) into their capital, because they lack the mainspring of ever renewed psychic affluence which can neither be exhaustively revealed nor be separated from the ego. In these cases, the spouses have a good chance of coming to face one another with empty hands; and the Dionysian bliss of giving may leave behind it an impoverishment which, unjustly, but no less bitterly for that, belies in retrospect even past abandons and their happiness.

We are, after all, made in such a way that we need not only a certain proportion of truth and error as the basis of our lives, but also a certain proportion of distinctness and indistinctness in the image of our life-elements. The other individual must give us not only gifts we may accept, but the possibility of our giving him–hopes, idealizations, hidden beauties, attractions of which not even he is conscious. But the place where we deposit all this, which we produce, but produce for him is the indistinct horizon of his personality, the interstitial realm, in which faith replaces knowledge. But it must be strongly emphasized that this is, by no means, only a matter of illusions and optimistic or amorous self-deceptions, but that portions even of the persons closest to us must be offered us in the form of indistinctness and unclarity, in order for their attractiveness to keep on the same high level.

Simmel, The Secret and the Secret Society

3 Comments

  1. nightspore
    18 December 2007

    Is this the Eros: Platonic and Modern essay? Or if not, read that!

  2. genevieve
    18 December 2007

    Ewwh. No we don’t. Truth will do me, thanks.
    All the same, this is very good.

  3. ebd
    4 February 2008

    so true, a woman should remain a mystery

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