venerdì 4 agosto 2017

Phenomenological vibes

Besides true love, there is false or illusory love. This last case must be distinguished from misinterpretations, and those errors in which I have deceitfully given the name of love to emotions unworthy of it. For in such cases there was never even a semblance of love, and never for a moment did I believe that my life was committed to that feeling. I conspired with myself to avoid asking the question in order to avoid receiving the reply which was already known to me; my 'love'-making was an attempt to do what was expected of me, or merely deception. In mistaken or illusory love, on the other hand, I was willingly united to the loved one, she was for a time truly the vehicle of my relationships with the world. When I told her that I loved her, I was willingly united to the loved one, she was for a time truly the vehicle of my relationships with the world. When I was told her I loved her, I was not 'interpreting', for my life was in truth committed to a form which, like a melody, demanded to be carried on.
Ingmar Bergman, A Summer Interlude
It is true that, following upon disillusionment (the revelation of my illusion about myself), and when I try to understand what has happened to me, I shall find beneath this supposed love something other than love: the likeness of the 'loved' woman to another, or boredom, or force of habit, or a community of interests or of convinctions, and it is just this which will justify me in talking about illusion. I loved only qualities (that smile that is so like another smile, that beauty which asserts itself like a fact, that youthfulness of gesture and behaviour) and not the individual manner of being which is that person herself. And, correspondingly, I was not myself wholly in thrall, for areas of my past and future life escaped the invasion, and I maintained within me corners set aside for other things. In that case, it will be objected, I was either unaware of this, in which case it is not a question of illusory love, but of a true love which is dying--or else I did know, in which case there was never any love at all, even 'mistaken'. But neither is the case. It cannot be said that this love, while it lasted, was indistinguishable from true love, and that it became 'mistaken love' when I repudiated it. Nor can it be said that a mystical crisis at fifteen is without significance, and that it becomes, when independently evaluated in later life, an incident of puberty or the first signs of a religious vocation.
Ingmar Bergman, A Summer Interlude
Even if I reconstruct my whole life on the basis of some incident of puberty, that incident does not lose its contigent character, so that it is my whole life which is 'mistaken'. In the mystical crisis itself as I experienced it, there must be discoverable in it some characteristic which distinguishes vocation from incident: in the first case the mystical attitude insinuates itself into my basic relationship to the world and other people; in the second case, it is within the subject as an impersonal form of behaviour, devoid of inner necessity: 'puberty'. In the same way, true love summons all the subject's resources and concerns him in his entire being, whereas mistaken love touches on only one persona: 'the man of forty' in the case of late love, 'the traveller' in the case of exotic appeal, 'the widower' if the misguided love is sustained by memory, 'the child' where the mother is recalled. True love ends when I change, or when the object of affection changes; misguided love is revealed as such when I return to my own self. The difference is intrinsic. But as it concerns the place of feeling in my total being-in-the-world, and as mistaken love is bound up with the person I believe I am at the time I feel it, and also as, in order to discern its mistaken nature I require a knowledge of myself which I can gain only through disillusionment, ambiguity remains, which is why illusion is possible.
Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phénoménologie de la Perception (English edition)

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