Saturday, July 18, 2009

Love is Like Falling, and Falling Is like This (or: Gaily speaking of gravity)

Love, Ani DiFranco sings, is like falling, and falling is like this...
Flight, wings, gravity--all of these tropes recur when we read of love.
For Plato love gives you wings, for Sappho eros is a strong wind. For Nietzsche, the spirit of gravity is killed with laughter, and for Heidegger amo leaves one without firm ground.
One can fall off a cliff into love, as if into an abyss. Or one can leap forth, like Icarus, and ascend to the sun itself.
In both tropes, love's flight is doomed.
Not the whole story.
"The ostrich runs faster than the fastest horse, but even he buries his head gravely in the grave earth; even so, the man who has not learned to fly. Earth and life seem grave to him; and thus the spirit of gravity wants it. But whoever would become light and a bird must love himself: thus I teach.
Not, to be sure, with the love of the wilting and wasting: for among those even self-love stinks. One must learn to love oneself--thus I teach--with a wholesome and healthy love, so that one can bear to be with oneself and need not roam."
"And he whom you cannot teach to fly, teach to fall faster!"

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