Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Very Poor Reason to Marry

Did I ever love Noam? It's a question I've considered continuously these past months. Did I ever love anything beyond his position in that special world, the only world that's ever mattered to me? Did I ever, even back then, focus on the person who occupied that position? I know I never considered the person behind the genius- if there was such a person. Noam's personal identity was, at least for me, entirely absorbed by his genius. All the properties he had were defined in relation to his genius. But that would be okay, wouldn't it? If one can love someone for the curve of her nose or thigh, the charm of his laugh or his manner of smoking, why can't one love someone for his genius?

Yes, I understood when Noam spoke of the power of his work. I had always thought of intelligence as power, the supreme power. Understanding is not the means of mastery, but the end itself (see Spinoza). This belief, pushed through the dark channels of the libido, emerged as the determinant of my sexual preferences. I am only attracted to men who I believe to be more intelligent than I am. A detected mistake in logic considerably cools my desire. They can be shorter, they can be weaker, they can be poorer, they can be meaner, but they must be smarter. For the smart are the masters in my mattering region. And if you gain power over them, then through the transitivity of power you too are powerful.

And how is it given to a woman to dominate but through sex? Through sex a woman gains control over a man's body that he himself lacks; she can move him in ways he cannot move himself. And she invades and takes over his consciousness, reducing it to a sense of its own embodiment (see Sartre). Sex is essentially the same game for men and for women, but for women, most of whom are otherwise powerless, it assumes a life-filling significance. La femme fatale, la belle dame sans merci, is an otherwise impotent person who has perfected her one strength to an unusual degree.

I have always loved in terms of power. Does this mean I've never loved? Does one love only if one loves for the right reasons? Are there right reasons? I don't know. But if I ever loved Noam, I Loved him that evening, on a train riding into Vienna, as he talked of his power, and feeling his, I felt my own. Since I can do no good because a woman/ Reach constantly at something that is near it.

~The Mind-Body Problem by Rebecca Goldstein, pages 95-96


Consider: A woman's low self-esteem leads her to devise a "mattering map" in which she determines that her self-worth and the way in which she matters is only linked to the relationships she's in, the people she loves or is close to and those she has "power over" (in a sexual way). In order to matter, the woman enslaves a man to her sexually and gets him to marry her (and is especially excited because he's a genius). Despite her clear psychological problems, she never gets treatment. And (spoilers here) when her husband is discovered to have lost his genius, she mourns him but then stays with him out of pity and compassion (but not, it would appear, out of love). A rather disappointing and depressing book.

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