Saturday, July 19, 2014

september humilitas


You don't make gnocchi out of this dough
Albino Luciani, aka Pope John Paul I aka the September Pope

You're afraid to stick out your chin and say, "Okay, life's a fact, people do fall in love, people do belong to each other, because that's the only chance anybody's got for real happiness." You call yourself a free spirit, a "wild thing," and you're terrified somebody's gonna stick you in a cage. Well baby, you're already in that cage. You built it yourself. And it's not bounded in the west by Tulip, Texas, or in the east by Somali-land. It's wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself. 
 --Breakfast at Tiffany's 

 Love that lacks grace so easily becomes a monster. 
 In Til We Have Faces, the heroine Orual's love for her sister Psyche is a beautiful, cherishing love, a love that adds beauty and meaning to Orual's depressing drab world. 
But, eventually, it becomes the sole thing that Orual lives for, the only good she can pursue. Her love, far from self-giving, ends up being a hoarding love. 
This craving sort of love eats away not only at her soul, but instead of seeking the good of the subject of the love, seeks to make the subject of the love and object to devour, to become just a part of herself. Her dependency on Psyche becomes a need, a consuming need for her sister, so that when her sister leaves to get married, Orual literally just can't even deal and basically destorys the lives of multiple people throughout the rest of the book. 
 So. A very cheerful story, as you can see. 
But despite it's rather grim atmosphere, Til We Have Faces is one of the most beautiful pieces of literature ever penned. Just as Pride and Prejudice is the best story that details the peculiarities and idiosyncracies of human beings in relationships both romantic and platonic, Til We Have Faces is the best story of sisters and sisterly love. 
Furthermore, it is a study of the relationship between beauty and love. 
 But whenever anyone thinks of a possessive love, I immediately think of Orual and Psyche. 
Because if a definition of lust is reducing a person down to an object, then if would follow that that sort of needy, possessive love that sees a person only as something belonging to them could be called lust? Okay, but that's the thing about the word belonging. 
Which I refer back to that line in Breakfast at Tiffany's: "people to belong to each other." 
That's why we choose favorites of things. When I say Til We Have Faces is my favorite C.S. Lewis book, or purple is my favorite color, I don't mean that I like them better than all the others. I mean that I have a unique bond with them. And that understanding those favorite things is a way to gain insight into me. Choosing. You have to choose people. 
Because if you don't, I think you end up only choosing yourself. And that's the cage that Breakfast at Tiffany's is talking about.

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