Friday, January 30, 2009

La Rochefoucauld: The Constant Inconstancy Of Love...

" I will love you forever," swears the poet. I find this easy to to swear. " I will love you at 4:15 p.m. next Tuesday": Is that still as easy?" -W.H. Auden, (1959).

"It is difficult to define love. What can be said is that in the soul it is a passion to dominate another, in the mind it is mutual understanding, whilst in the body it is simply a delicately veiled desire to posses the beloved after many rites and mysteries.

If pure love exists, free from the dross of our other passions, it lies hidden in the depths of our hearts unknown even to ourselves.

Where love is, no disguise can hide it for long; where it is not, none can simulate it.

There are few people who, when their love for each other is dead, are not ashamed of that love.

You can find women who have never had a love affair, but seldom women who had only one.

There is only one kind of love, but there are a thousand copies, all different.

Love, like fire, cannot survive without continual movement, and it ceases to live as soon as it ceases to hope or fear.

True love is like ghostly apparitions: everybody talks about them but few have ever seen one.

Love lends its name to countless dealings which are attributed to it but of which it knows no more than the doge knows what goes on in Venice.

We cannot love anything except in terms of ourselves, and when we put out friends above ourselves we are only concerned with our own taste and pleasure. Yet it is only through such preference that friendship can be true and perfect.

Constancy in love is perpetual inconstancy, inasmuch as the heart is drawn to one quality after another in the beloved, now preferring this, now that. Constancy is therefore inconstancy held in check and confined to the same object.

Constancy in love is of two kinds: one comes from continually finding new things to love in the beloved, and the other from making it a point of honor to remain constant.

We are nearer to loving those who hate us than loving those who love us more than we want."

-Francois VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld: (1613-80. Together with La Bruyère, La Rochefoucauld is the best-known of the French moralistes, famous for his exploration of the role of ‘amour-propre’ in human behavior. The Maximes are concise, often epigrammatic, reflections on human nature, typically written from a disillusioned or cynical point of view. One of La Rochefoucauld's favorite categories is that of ‘amour propre’, whose workings can be detected across large tracts of human life. -The Philosophy Dictionary. Text: "Réflexions ou Sentences et Maximes Morales" Paris, 1665. Image: "The Lovers," Rene Magritte, 1928).

3 comments:

Liberty's Trumpet: said...

A very interesting and scholarly post.

Love can only be defined as follows. God is love, and he describes His love and the way we are to love others here:

1Cr 13:1
THOUGH I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
1Cr 13:2
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
1Cr 13:3
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,[fn1] but have not love, it profits me nothing.
1Cr 13:4
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
1Cr 13:5
does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;
1Cr 13:6
does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
1Cr 13:7
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1Cr 13:8
Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
1Cr 13:9
For we know in part and we prophesy in part.
1Cr 13:10
But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
1Cr 13:11
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
1Cr 13:12
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
1Cr 13:13
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

True love has nothing to do with domination.

Buddha said...

Hi there!
I was browsing the blogosphere looking for people with similar interests that want to be friends - in a blogging kind of way, so I stopped to say hi!
Wishing you happy bloging and the best in your life.
BoH

Janaki said...

I like this post a lot! People often have a very childish view of love in the same way they view their God. The way society currently uses the definition of Love was originally defined by the Troubadours "I betroth myself to you because you are purity and therefore you will make me pure" I dont buy any of that sillyness.

I think Love is something you cultivate from within your own heart. Once you have love in yourself then you can love others... love begets love... I also agree that love is God and God is love. Not in a Personal God way but and Impersonal God.

What I really love about the poem is that the writer sees the non duality or 'its not this and its not that. Beautifully observed!