Some thoughts from André Gorz’s book Letter to D: A Love Story.
On love and life together:
I understood that pleasure is not something you give or take. It’s a way of giving yourself and calling forth the gift of self from the other person.
What captivated me about you was that you opened the door to another world for me.
You gave all of yourself to help me become myself.
You opened up the richness of life for me and I loved life through you – unless it was the reverse and I loved you through all living things (but that comes down to the same thing).
It’s fairly safe to say I probably haven’t lived up to the resolution I made 30 years ago: to live completely at one with the present, mindful above all of the wealth of our shared life.
You have to accept being finite: being here and nowhere else, doing this and not something else, now and not always or never … having only this life.
… you knew that a person who wanted to be a writer needs to be able to shut themselves away in seclusion, to make notes at any hour of the day or night; that their work with language goes on well after they’ve laid down their pen and can take complete possession of them without warning, in the middle of a meal or a conversation.
‘When everything’s said, everything remains to be said, everything always remains to be said’. In other words: it’s the saying that matters, not the said. What I’d written interested me a lot less than what I might write next.
… theory always runs the risk of blinding us to the shifting complexities of the real world.
Multitasking is the drive to be more than we are, to control more than we do, to extend our power and our effectiveness. Such practice yields a divided self, with full attention given to nothing.
This again is from Walter Brueggemann’s Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to a Culture of Now. ‘Full attention given to nothing’ – as a teacher I’d say this is one of the most debilitating faults of our 24/7 society.
We cannot love God or our neighbour. We love both or neither. And what love means is rejoicing in the otherness of the other because the depth of this awareness is the depth of our communion with the other. … in the people we live with we find not objects to be cast in our own superficial likeness but, much more, we find in them our true selves, for our true selves only appear, only become realized, when we are wholly turned towards another.
In this recognition of the other person, a recognition that remakes my mind and expands my consciousness, the other person comes into being as they really are, in their real self, not as a manipulated extension of myself. People move and act out of their own integral reality and no longer as some image created by my imagination.
The essence of community … is a recognition of and deep reverence for the other.
John Main, Word into Silence
Anne Carson’s essay, ‘Decreation: How Women Like Sappho, Marguerite Porete and Simone Weil Tell God’ (in Decreation: Poetry, Essays, Opera), offers some intriguing thoughts on love, the self, God etc., while at the same time engaging in interesting ways with the three women mentioned in the title. She quotes Simone Weil (Gravity and Grace) as saying:
God gave me Being in order that I should give it back to him. … God allows me to exist outside himself. It is for me to refuse this authorization.
Having read Weil’s Waiting for God a little while ago, I am quite tempted to add Gravity and Grace to my burgeoning reading list as well.
Carson also quotes Marguerite Porete, who says of God that ‘His Farness is the more Near’. Carson comments:
I have no idea what this sentence means but it gives me a thrill. It fills me with wonder. In itself the sentence is a small complete act of worship, like a hymn or a prayer.
Porete’s phrase captures the tension of divine transcendence and immanence well, but I also love the way Carson expresses her fascination with it. On the same theme she once again quotes Weil, who remarks that ‘God can only be present in creation under the form of absence’.
Here, finally, is another Porete quote, this time expressing her apophatic theology:
For everything that one can tell of God or write, no less than what one can think, of God who is more than words, is as much lying as it is telling the truth.