Book: On love (Alain de Botton)

[This post originally appeared in Dullicious, where I blogged as Barbie-dull for several years.]

You know how some authors have the nerve to know exactly what words resonate with you? How some words are exactly those you were looking for as you feel an emotion or you want to describe your feelings? Alain de Botton is that, for me.

I’ve been reading “on love”, a novel in which he describes his romance with Chloe and analyses it step by step, catergorising each stage and wonderfully and very funnily illustrating it.

Here’s a collection of quotes that I relate to particularly:

Marxism. Unrequited love until we are loved back:

[[how can they be as wonderful as we had hoped when they had the bad taste to approve of someone like us?]]

Marxism. Reciprocated love, the battle of self-love and self-hatred:

[[There is usually a Marxist moment in most relationships [the moment when it becomes clear that love is reciprocated] and the way it is resolved depends on the balance between self-love and self-hatred. If self-hatred gains the upper hand, then the one who has received love will declare the the beloved [on some excuse or other] is not good enough for them [not good enough by virtue of association with no-goods]. But if self-love gains the upper hand, both partners may accept that seeing their love reciprocated is not proof of how low the beloved is, but of how lovable they have themselves turned out to be.]]

About falling in love:

[[Falling comes only when one knows how deep the waters are into which to plunge]]

False Notes. One must understand before being ready to love:

[[Only after much exchange […] should two people decide they are ready to love one another, a decision made on the basis of mutual understanding and confirmed rather than imagined affinity. In the mature account of love, it is only when one truly knows one’s partner that love is given a chance to grow.]]

False Notes. About the other existing in their own right:

[[ […] I became aware of a fleeting desire not to get to know certain things about her, lest they jar with the beautiful image that, almost from the moment I had first laid eyes on her, I had built up in my imagination.]]

False Notes. Between inner fantasy and outer reality:

[[ Living day to day with her was like acclimatizing myself to a foreign country and prey therefore to accasional xenophobia at departures from my own traditions and history.]]

Love or Liberalism. Trenscend the differences with the will to joke:

[[It is a sign that two people have stopped loving one another [or at least stopped wishing to make the effort that constitutes 90 percent of love] when they are no longer able to spin differences into jokes. Humor lined the walls of irritation between our ideals and the reality: Behind each joke, there was a difference that had been defused –and could therefore be passed over without the need for a pogrom.]]

Speaking love:

[[The thought was a lonely one: of the error one may find over a single word, an argument not for pedants but of desperated importance to lovers who are sick of talking throught interpreters. We could both speak of being in love, and yet this love might mean wholly different things within each of us.]]

Skepticism and Faith:

[[Doubt is easy when it is not a matter of survival: We are as skeptical as we can afford to be, and it is easiest to be skeptical about things that do not fundamentally sustain us. It is easy to doubt the existence of a table; it is hell to doubt the legitimacy of one’s love.]]

[[Even though the odds were in favor of God’s not existing, Pascale argued that our faith in God could still be amply justified because the joys of the slimmer probability so far outweighed the horrors of the larger probability. And so it should perharps be with love.]]


[[To love someone is to take a deep interest in them and hence by that concern, to bring them to a sense of what they are doing and saying.]]

[[It takes the intimacy of a lover to point out facets of character others simply do not bother with, sides that it may be difficul to confront.]]

[[It is what makes others so indispensable, that they are able to give us something we are unable to grasp alone, the elusive sense of our borders, the sense of our own character.]]

I’m sure I’ll find more as I keep reading it and thoroughly enjoy it.

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