2 – (Simone de Beauvoir) “There are few crimes which exacts a worst punishment than this generous fault: to put oneself entirely in another’s hands and thus be at his mercy.”
4 – If a man, as William Butler Yeats once claimed, “is forced to choose / Perfection of the life or of the work,” a woman is too often forced to choose perfection of the heart or of the head.
4 – How lucky for us: The literature of amorous surrender has inspired many of the resplendent poems of the English language.
6 – Love is “a frenzied passion which compels women to submit to a diminishing life in chains.” adds Andrea Dworkin in 1976.
7 – We inhabit a world in which every aspect of romance from meeting to mating has been streamlined, safety-checked, and emptied of spiritual consequence. We imagine that we live in an erotic culture of unprecedented opportunity when, in fact, we live in an erotic culture that is almost unendurably bland.
8 – It is the trivialization of love that is the tragedy of our time. It is the methodical demystification, recreationalization, automization, commercialization, medicalization, and domestication of Eros that is making today’s world a so much flatter place.
11 – “It never troubles the sun,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson in one of his later essays, “that some of his rays fall wide and vain into ungrateful space, and only a small part on the reflecting planet. Let your greatness educate the cold and crude companion. If he is unequal, he will presently pass away; but thou, thou art enlarged by thy own shining.”
13 – At its strongest and wildest and most authentic, love is a demon. It is a religion, a high-risk adventure, an act of heroism. Love is ecstasy and injury, transcendence and danger, altruism and excess. In many ways, it is a divine madness—and was recognized exactly as that as early as the time of Plato. To enclose it with AA batteries and sell it over the counter is a terrific loss.
35 – … the Greek word manike—madness—so closely resembles the Greek word—prophecy—or so Socrates speculates.
35 – “When out of their senses, the prophetess at Delphi and the priestesses of Dodona have conferred great benefits on Greece,” Socrates points out, but “when in their senses they have conferred none.”
46 – Perhaps charitably, it has not been granted us to love at equal intensity at all times. Passion fluctuates. That does not mean it lies. “Let not my love be called idolatry,” Shakespeare pleads in one of his fiercest sonnets. Let us not apologize for greatness just because it fades. Let us not curse the vision just because it flees. We would do better to cherish the vision more warmly, to detain it as long as we can, to plumb it for all the wisdom it can yield—for all the poetry, for all the joy—and to praise it when it has gone.
47 – (T.S. Eliot) “Human kind cannot bear very much reality.”
57 – “Love… ceases to live as soon as it ceases to hope or fear,” wrote the French aphorist, La Rochefoucauld.
83 – The single genuinely transgressive sexual behavior left today might well be no sexual behavior.
85 – “Without adultery, what would happen to imaginative writing?” asked Denis de Rougemont…
86 – …Ovid explains his theory of love:
Gifts too easily made encourage no permanent passion.
Often a boat goes down sunk by favoring wind. This
is what keeps some wives from being loved by their husbands.
It’s all too easy for him, coming whenever he will.
Put a door in his way, and have a doorkeeper tell him
“No admittance: keep out!”- then he will burn with desire
103 – Love is always against something as ardently as it is for somebody. Such contrarianism is part and parcel of its warlike spirit, its combative constitution, its hungry impatience for excess.
106- (Eugen Boissevain) “A completely faithful marriage is like an icebox with always some cold chicken in it.”
109 – (John Fowles) “Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups on my table.
110 – (Antoine de Saint-Exupery) “It is the love that vainly yearns from behind prison bars that we have, perchance, the love supreme.”
127 – True friends are too precious for casual companionship. We easily forget their nobility when we see them too constantly: “The hues of the opal, the light of the diamond are not to be seen, if the eye is too near,” Emerson declares.
127 – A few words separated by significant silences, a few gestures, are far more potent than floods of words and orgies-ful of activity.
136 – (Emily Dickinson) “Don’t you know that ‘No’ is the wildest word we consign to language?”
138 – (Rainer Maria Rilke) “When a person abandons himself, he is no longer anything, and when two people both give themselves up in order to come close to each other, there is no longer any ground beneath them and their being together is a continual falling.”
209 – “…[I]f Augustus, emperor of the world, thought fit to honor me with marriage… it would be dearer… to me to be called not his Empress, but your whore.”
218 – “All things the gods give to their favorites abundantly, all joys abundantly, and all pangs abundantly.”
222 – (Margaret Fuller) “Men disappoint me so… I wish that I were a man, and then at least there would be one.”
231 – (Margaret Fuller) “What a vulgarity there seems in writing for the multitude!”
232 – (Emerson) “Nature does rarely say her best words to us out of serene and splendid weather.”
235 – (Rainer Maria Rilke) “For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of our tasks, the ultimate, the work for which all other work is but preparation.”
237 – The simplest way to be successful in matters of the heart is to be heartless. To adapt the words of Horace Walpole, love is “a comedy to those who think, and a tragedy to those who feel.”
245 – (Madame du Deffand) “I can never have any pleasure unless it be counterbalanced by great pain.”
250 – (George Sand) “Love is a temple built by the lover to the object (more or less worthy) of his worship; what is the grand in the thing is not so much the god as the altar… The idol may stand for a long time or soon fall, but still, you will have built a fine house of worship.”
274 – (J.M. Coetzee) “In young lovers today one detects not the faintest flicker of that old metaphysical hunger, whose code word for itself was yearning (Sehnsucht).”
274 – (C.S. Lewis) “what is new usually wins its way by disguising itself as the old.”