Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Perfection, compromise, communication in love

Emerson said: "Love, and you shall be loved. All love is mathematically just, as much as the two sides of an algebraic equation."

Well, no, it isn't quite like that. The people we love are not always good for us. The novelist Amor Towles wrote: "– If we only fell in love with people who were perfect for us, he [Dicky] said, then there wouldn't be so much fuss about love in the first place." Even if two people are good for each other and love each other, their love is not equal. The novelist Thornton Wilder wrote: "Now he discovered that secret from which one never quite recovers, that even in the most perfect love one person loves less profoundly than the other."

I think rather of a comment relayed by Sari Nusseibeh: "Mathematical problems may have solutions. But in politics, there are only compromises." In love as well as in politics, one might add.

To compromise, we must communicate. Germaine Greer wrote: "The love of fellows is based upon understanding and therefore upon communication. ... If we could present an attainable ideal of love it would resemble the relationship described by Maslow as existing between self-realizing personalities." Greer also quoted O. Schwarz as saying that love is "a cognitive act, indeed the only way to grasp the innermost core of personality."


Ralph Waldo Emerson. "Compensation." In Compensation and Heroism. New York, Boston, H.M. Caldwell Co., 1900. p 32.

Amor Towles. Rules of Civility (2011). New York: Penguin Books, 2012.

Thornton Wilder. The Bridge of San Luis Rey. (1927) New York: Washington Square Press, Inc., 1960. p. 48.

A man commenting to Sari Nusseibeh after a talk he gave in Berlin. Quoted by Sari Nusseibeh. What is a Palestinian State Worth? Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2011. p. 219.

Germaine Greer. The Female Eunuch. New York: McGraw Hill Book Company, 1971 (originally Great Britain: MacGibbon and Kee, 1970). p 140.

O. Schwarz, The Psychology of Sex, quoted by Germaine Greer. The Female Eunuch. New York: McGraw Hill Book Company, 1971 (originally Great Britain: MacGibbon and kee, 1970). p 166.

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