Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Ooh, ooh, Joy's been thinking again

I just watched (hushed tone) the movie Princess Diaries II and it recalled to mind something D.H Lawrence said, “And what's romance? Usually, a nice little tale where you have everything As You Like It, where rain never wets your jacket and gnats never bite your nose and it's always daisy-time.”. The most symbolic part of the movie was when the princess confessed to her betrothed, at the altar that she didn’t love him enough to go through with the wedding, and he, in turn, expressed relief and gratitude at the release from a duty he was not keen on. If only reality were as pure and uncomplicated; sadly, somebody always gets hurt. Also regrettable is the simpleminded focus on the victors in the game of love, the steadfastness with which the feelings of the losers are swept under the carpet. Society is so desperate for romance, in the sense describe by Mr. Lawrence, that it wills it into existence by collapsing ambiguity, reducing contradiction, and resolutely ignores contradictory evidence. I recall that while, as a child, I was glad that the heroines of my favourite fairytales invariably got together with handsome princes, I was concerned for the feelings of their respective spurned lovers, or admirers. Society simply does not know how to deal with the unpleasant issue that is genuine grievance so it makes up delightful scenarios into which the spurned agreeably fit - as secondary victors or as villains- or merely conveniently ignores any unpleasant possibilities. But nothing’s left to chance: the aggrieved are muffled and compelled to go along with the little delusion by the threat of castigation and ostracism. And if in spite of that they’re uncooperative, they’re discounted as maladjusted.
Love, it said, is the subtlest form of selfishness. But if that’s the case, then does it have any room for decency? But allow me to back track a little; what is love? Is it heat and passion, or affection, and admiration? While advocates of the each view disrespect the opposing standpoint, the space between them is really only a question of difference of emphasis not essence. With regard to the question of love and decency, the former doesn’t, of course, preclude the latter. The two however are contrasting in kind: Love is instinctive, where decency is cultivated. But how is decency to be developed in a social order that shrinks from the disagreeable? The combination of a selfish drive and the lack of socialization for unpleasant situations is absolutely grave; it’s no wonder that “It is human nature to hate him whom you have injured.” Surely, we must realise how preposterous, and absurd that is; or we would if we could so much as think it. But in the pursuit of the pretty picture, there’s no time for such ambiguous thoughts, all unpleasantness is under rags swept (hat tip to Alanis).


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