Frozen in time

Life                           -                      Death
Solid                         -                      Liquid
Permanence               -                     Change

Heathcliff, make the world stop right here. Make everything stop and stand still and never move again. Make the moors never change and you and I never change.

[Emily Brontë]
Wuthering Heights

Romantic love hopes to ‘freeze’ a beautiful moment.

It’s a summer’s evening, after dinner, Werther is walking in the woods with his beloved. He wants it to be always like this: so he feel they should get married, have a house together, have children. Though, in reality, marriage will be nothing at all like the lovely June night.

There’ll be exhaustion, bills to pay, squabbles and a sense of confinement. By comparison with the extreme hopes of Romanticism, real love is always necessarily a terrible disappointment.

'Johann Wolfgang von Goethe'

The fact that change is never going to stop renders the very notion of a blueprint for the good society nonsensical, for even if society became like the blueprint it would instantly begin to depart from it.

So not only are ideal societies unattainable because they are ideal, they are unattainable because, to correspond to any sort of blueprint at all, they would have to be static, fixed, unchanging; and no foreseeable society is going to be those things.

[Bryan Magee]
Popper, p. 106

[…] if the lessons of complex dynamical systems apply to human beings, attempting to design fail-safe social systems (whether legal, educational, penal, or other type) that never go wrong is a hopeless task, for several reasons. 

First, since we carry our history on our backs we can never begin from scratch, either personally or as societies. Second, perfection allows no room for improvement. Plato was one of the few thinkers who understood that if a freshly minted utopia were ever to be successfully established, the only direction in which it could change would be downhill. 

Stasis and isolation are therefore essential to maintaining the alleged perfection, not only of Plato's Republic, but of most other utopias as well. 

The noumenal self that Kant postulates as the seat of moral choice and free will is likewise not part of this world. The possibility of perfection requires isolation and has nowhere to go but downward.

[Alicia Juarrero]
Dynamics in Action, p. 257

We can see it, for example, in thousands of novels, in which are left with a man and a woman, just married, and really beginning of their life together. Yet the situation is often treated marriage itself had solved everything satisfactorily: as if they were at the end of their task.

Another point important to realize is that love by does not settle everything. There are all kinds of love, and it is better to rely upon work, interest, and cooperation to solve the problems of marriage.

[Alfred Adler]
What Life Could Mean to You, Chap. XII ‘Love and Marriage’

[…] ideas of Romantic love and marriage were much more acceptable to women than to men […] and were embraced by the middle class, but not, to any great extent, by other classes.

The theory, like so much of the middle-class outlook, originated among the medieval heresies, such as Manichaeism (as the Swiss writer Denis de Rougemont has shown), and was thus from the same tradition that saw the rise of the bourgeois outlook in the Middle Ages and its reinforcement by the closely associated Puritan movement of modern times.

The Romantic theory of love was spread through the middle class by incidental factors, such as that the bourgeoisie were the only social class that read much, and Romantic love was basically a literary convention in its propagation whatever it may have been in its origins. It made no real impression on the other social classes in European society, such as the peasants, the nobility, or the urban working craftsmen.

Strangely enough, Romantic love, accepted as a theory and ideal by the bourgeoisie, had little influence on middle-class marriages in practice, since these were usually based on middle-class values of economic security and material status rather than on love. More accurately, middle-class marriages were based on these material considerations in fact, while everyone concerned pretended that they were based on Romantic love. Any subsequent recognition of this clash between fact and theory often gave a severe jolt and has sometimes been a subject for literary examination, as in the first volume of John Galsworthy’s The Forsyte Saga.

Opposed to this Romantic theory of love and marriage, and almost equally opposed to the bourgeois practice of “sensible” marriage, was what we may call the Western idea of love and marriage. This assumes that personalities are dynamic and flexible things formed largely by experiences in the past. Love and marriage between such personalities are, like everything in the Western outlook, diverse, imperfect, adjustable, creative, cooperative, and changeable. The Western idea assumes that a couple come together for many reasons (sex, loneliness, common interests, similar background, economic and social cooperation, reciprocal admiration of character traits, and other reasons).

It further assumes that their whole relationship will be a slow process of getting to know each other and of mutual adjustment—a process that may never end. The need for constant adjustment shows the Western recognition that nothing, even love, is final or perfect.

This is also shown by recognition that love and marriage are never total and all-absorbing, that each partner remains an independent personality with the right to an independent life. (This is found throughout the Western tradition and goes back to the Christian belief that each person is a separate soul with its own, ultimately separate, fate.)

Thus there appeared in Western society at least three kinds of marriage, which we may call Romantic, bourgeois, and Western. The last, without being much discussed (except in modern books on love and marriage), is probably the most numerous of the three, and the other two, if they prove successful, do so by gradually developing into this third kind.

Romantic marriage, based on the “shock of recognition,” has in fact come to be based very largely on sexual attraction, since this is the chief form that love at first sight can take. Such marriages often fail, since even sex requires practice and mutual adjustment and is too momentary a human relationship to sustain a permanent union unless many other common interests accumulate around it.

Even when this occurs and the marriage becomes a success, in the sense that it persists, it is never total, and the Romantic delusion that marriage should be totally absorbing of the time, attention, and energies of its partners, still expected by many women brought up on the Romantic idea, merely means that the marriage becomes an enslaving relationship to the husbands and a source of disappointment and frustration to the wives.

[Carroll Quigley]
Tragedy and Hope, ‘The Future in Perspective,’ p.796

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