Wow! How thrilling it is when you read something that addresses EXACTLY the complex notion you’d been so recently grappling with! Yesterday I spent an hour walking in the sunbaked stillness of Riverside Park and reading Spanish writer Javier Marias’s beautiful short novel, The Man of Feeling. The following is from his afterword (with emphases added):

The Man of Feeling is a love story in which love is neither seen nor experienced, but announced and remembered. Can such a thing happen? Can something as urgent and unpostponable as love, which requires both presence and immediate consummation or consumption, be announced when it does not yet exist or truly remembered if it no longer exists? Or does the announcement itself and mere memory–now and still respectively–form part of that love? I don’t know, but I do believe that love is based in large measure on its anticipation and on its recollection. It is the feeling that requires the largest dose of imagination, not only when one senses its presence, when one sees it coming, and not only when the person who has experienced and lost love feels a need to explain it to him or herself, but also while that love is evolving and is in full flow. Let us say it is a feeling which always demands an element of fiction beyond that afforded by reality. In other words, love always has an imaginary side to it, however tangible or real we believe it to be at any given moment. It is always about to be fulfilled, it is the realm of what might be. Or, rather, what might have been.”

Somewhat related: I’ve been thinking about the idea of Platonic love and how incredibly confusing that idea is. I think it’s only employed by the utterly confused as an attempt to feel better about all the confusion (I’ve wholeheartedly used it myself in precisely those circumstances). What does it MEAN? I consulted Wikipedia, like you do for the most important matters. This is as far as I got (with an ironic sense of satisfaction):

“This article may be confusing or unclear to readers.”

Back to the thinking board, folks. And I most highly recommend The Man of Feeling or any other Marias if you can get your hands on him–New Directions publishes about eight or nine of his titles.

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