Thoughts and other trivia...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

This is Absurd!

While re-reading The Myth of Sisyphus today, I came across a line that I clearly don't remember from the first time over. Of course, this is not to say that I remember everything else but this seems too good to have missed. Or, at least, not to have remembered. It is mentioned in the context of what is known as Don Juanism: Why should it be essential to love rarely in order to love much. Hmm...

In modern psychiatry, the term Don Juanism, named after the literary character Don Juan, refers to a disorder. An allusion to the many conquests of Don Juan, the term is indicative of a heightened appetite for sex. With multiple partners. Although he doesn't say so, the general drift of Albert Camus' argument would suggest that the term does not do justice to Don Juan because he is not your ordinary philanderer. Unlike others of his ilk, his exploits are complete in themselves and are not meant to be the stepping stones to more permanent and fruitful associations. Unlike them, he is not looking or searching. For him, the journey is all. He is not trying to get anywhere, if you know what I mean. For him, it is the experience of doing what he does that is fulfilling in itself. He is only interested in the here and now. Unlike others, he is able to recognise that the fruits of his labour, in a manner of speaking, and anything else that might follow as a result of his efforts, are largely meaningless. As, indeed, is life itself.

To return to the statement in the book, it's curious, to say the least. Because, even if one were to take it literally, logically, it amounts to spreading yourself thin, doesn't it? And, moreover, it sounds defensive. So, I did a Google search and found that it makes perfect sense...Camus was himself a Don Juan-like figure and, even while he was married, he was engaged in multiple relationships. Some at the same time. So, was it guilt that led him to project such lofty attributes to the fictional character's escapades? I don't know.

But, what I do know is that, as usual, I have digressed. I didn't mean to start writing about either Don Juan or Don Juanism. I wanted to take that statement I have quoted above and twist it around. And, maybe, go off on a tangent...in a stream of consciousness, so to speak.

Now, have you ever wondered how, and why, some people are able to fall in love over and over? I have. Wondered, I mean. Some people feel it coming on strong soon after their break-up and, literally, hop from relationship to another. Others take a bit longer to get over their separation but, sure as the night follows the day, they find their cup brimming over with the said emotion, waiting only for a suitable candidate to pour it on. Then, there are others who can't get past the first one, even though there is nothing to hang on to and the relationship has long since broken. So, does this mean that some people have more of the emotion? An abundance, spilling over? Or, do they, even if it's at the subliminal level, unbeknownst to themselves, keep on moving from one to the other, somewhat like Don Juan, in search of that real thing? In which case, does it mean that all those that have gone by weren't real? If they weren't real, why did they feel as though they were? And, does it also mean that if it breaks up, it wasn't real? By inference then, because they're unable to move on, do some people have too little or not nearly enough of the emotion?

Hmm, questions, questions! I might as well have called this post DUI, Done Under the Influence, because, let's admit it, it does read as though I've written it while experimenting with certain banned items that the other Don Juan, from Carlos Castaneda, might have enjoyed a taste of. :-) Well, like I've already said, I'll just flatter myself and call it my stream of consciousness moment.


46 Comments:

Blogger Inkblot said...

believe it or not- flattery is great for ones confidence! :P

easier than seekingf answers..

10:16 pm  
Blogger MockTurtle said...

People love deeply and 'Don-Juanly' for different reasons. Some need the constant feeling of security, some need to be needed and others are just brimming over with empathy for everyone.
In any case, I don't ascribe to the limited bucket theory when it comes to any emotion. I'm sure you've met people who detest practically everyone they meet with great vehemence. It's the same with love. Giving it does not diminish your potential to give even more.
BTW - speaking of the Myth of Sisyphus, if you were depressed by Camus' theory on life being absurd and futile and not worth living, then read Brian Greene's Fabric of the Cosmos. It should give you hope.

9:59 am  
Blogger Szerelem said...

Ooooh, Camus!! Did you by any chance read this??

Interesting questions those. And yes, I have wondered (often at that) how some people fall in love or even like, again and again, so easily. I guess it just individual difference, tempramental difference...what have you. That said, I dont discount their feelings and emotions at all. Its just that I find it difficult to understand. But then again its a very rare thing for me to like anyone.

@MT: I thought it was interesting that Greene started his book discussing Camus and then disagreeing slightly with him.Its a really good read that.

1:23 pm  
Anonymous Tangential said...

What is true love? Does it exist? Every one of us is searching for the one person we believe was created to be our soul mate, and I don't believe this search ever ends. The digital era has taken the search online, far and beyond. Good for us. But really, love with all its myriad intricacies and complications, is probably the most debated, deliberated, sought after, cherished, written about and felt emotion. A google search on the word love yields 1,490,000,000 results, if numbers are anything to go by.
In his book, 'The Bridge Across Forever' Richard Bach claims to have met his soul mate. The ONE person that was created for him.. his better half, the one his heart beats for with a different beat.. and so on..
He goes to great lengths to write about the transcendental and metaphysical experiences that the two of them have together. And I must admit, he is pretty convincing. Anyone who didn't previously believe in the concept of soul mates, most likely would after reading the book.
However it all falls flat when Bach's marriage to Leslie Parrish, his soul mate, ends in a divorce. No fiction, this.
What does this mean? No, I am not basing my argument on one person's experience or failed marriage. Look around. How many failed marriages do we have, and I don't mean only those that end up in courts. How many men and women carry on, unhappily? How many make-believe that the relationship they are in, is the best? How many are even oblivious to the fact that their relationship isn't what they hoped it would be?
Let's look at it the other way round. How many genuinely happily married couples do you find? How many are there in it for the sake of kids or because they can't find the courage to break-up? Or because of societal pressures, given the stigma associated with being a divorcee?
The world is rife with couples celebrating wedding anniversaries year after year, without an iota of shared love between them. So much for the great emotion. So much for soul mates.

2:26 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ah yes. heart break. true love and all that bullshit.
too much to say, not enough cyber space.

Sonia (i switched to blogger beta and now i can't comment on non beta blogs)

9:39 am  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

Inkblot: So, from hereon, flattery it shall be :-)



MT: I’m not propagating what you call the limited bucket theory…just wondering how it actually works. And, I quite share Camus’ views on life…so, I’m not that depressed ;-)



Szerelem: Ditto. Not discounting how people feel and react…just trying to understand :-) Thanks for the link…I think it showed up in the Google search I did on Camus!



Tangential: I don’t know if I believe in this concept of soul mates but I don’t think the existence of true love can be denied. Maybe it’s hard to find but, I think, it exists. The bigger problem, I think, is that most of us don’t recognise it even when it hits us square in the face. We have too many expectations, doubts, pressures, big egos, insecurities and too little of patience, trust and self-belief. Most of us are not willing to give it the kind of time and attention it requires. Like everything else in life, we’ve managed to reduce love and relationships to tokenism, measuring both against meaningless parameters. I don’t think you can cite the many examples of failed marriages we see as an absence of love. As I said in a recent post, I think marriages fail b’cos people get into them for the wrong reasons and b’cos everyone is so eager and keen to be in love that they often imagine they are. And, then the reality kicks in.

And, I never bought into that Richard Bach philosophy



Sonia: And why would you do such a thing? I mean, why've you moved to Blogger Beta? And, besides, what is it? :-)

11:56 am  
Anonymous Tangential said...

Hell, I'd don't think our expectations, doubts, egos....... prevent us from recognizing true love. On the contrary, most of us are waiting for it to find us, i.e., when we're not busily searching for it. Unless u mean we've idealized true love to the point where when it hits us, instead of recognizing it for what it is, we discount it, coz it's way below our heightened expectations.
Devoting time, attention, etc. to nurture the emotion comes at a later stage, i.e., after you've found true love.
But first, my friend, you've got to find it.
Btw, what's your definition of true love?

2:25 pm  
Anonymous Tangential said...

Returning to your original post and question about why some people can hop, jump, even leap from relationship to relationship while others can barely think of taking so much as step in another direction. I think it has more to do with our individual capacity to deal with situations than the situation itself. I think different people react differently. This is true of anything, be it overcoming the heartbreak of a broken relationship, the failure to perform at a given task or the ability to overcome obstacles. Whatchamacallit? Endurance. Resilience.

2:42 pm  
Anonymous Tangential said...

And bcoz I call myself tangential, I'd like to add another viewpoint. Perhaps, these people who, to use your own words, can't get past the first one, like to wallow in the feeling that comes from being the victim.

2:50 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

Tangential: The bit about expectations and doubts, etc., relates directly to what I said in my response to your first comment. Many of us who get hit with it in the face do not recognise it because of expectations, egos and doubts, etc., that we carry with us. What I’m trying to say is that you can be in the middle of a relationship, with the right person, and not know it b’cos of the huge expectations, etc.

Devoting time, etc., was mentioned in the same context. So, yes, idealising true love can also be one of our many problems.

Many of us decide that we’re lonely and must fall in love and then go about looking for someone to fit into that part. It doesn’t work that way. Not according to me, at least. I’m not sure one can go looking for a relationship.

About people who can’t get past the first one, sure, that’s one way of looking at it. I’ve got a few too. How about being scared of losing it all again? Or, what about losing faith? Or, worse, how about the realisation that what they’ve let slip past them was the real thing?

6:31 pm  
Anonymous Sonia said...

cos i like to try out new things!

10:56 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

Sonia: Right! :-) And, how're you able to comment now? Figured a way to beat Blogger Beta or are you back to the old one?

9:35 am  
Anonymous **Silvermoon** GEL said...

Ah, this is the kind of post I soak up like a sponge. I love to immerse myself into philosophical discussion and this particular topic is of interest to me.

However, I cannot comment succinctly (other than the bland "we're each individuals" which says nothing pithy), because this is a topic I could write a paper on! I'm familiar with Don J. and Camus' work so I was delighted to read how you wove your thoughts around possible reasons/motivations for behaviours.

Human relationships and behaviour fascinates me. Once I toyed with the idea of becoming a psychiatrist. Most interesting post and now I shall read the commment thread.

11:27 am  
Anonymous Sonia said...

nahi re! i can't go back to blogger. and now i comment using the "Other' option. there's always a way na!

11:41 am  
Blogger the-think said...

It just isn't enough to fall in love once
:)

3:55 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

SilverMoon**Gel: Thanks. So, why didn't you? Become a psuchiatrist, I mean.

Hope youre feeling better now.


Sonia: You said "there's always a way na!" Can I remind you of this every now and then? :-)


The-Think: From what I remember of your situation, and what you were waiting for, it's easy for you to say so :-)

5:08 pm  
Blogger Essar said...

You're really into these exitentialists is it? Last I read you were reading Godot!
But interesting theory there about Don Juan and Camus - especially coz they're such incongruous literary figures!
As for the falling in love bit - I don't know - I think I'm bit of a Don Juan then. Ulp.

11:19 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

Essar: Haven't read Godot in years. In fact, I don't even have a copy any now ...an acquaintance borrowed it and I haven't seen her since :-) But, yes, I have been re-reading some Camus.

About being Don Juan, hmm...I'm also actively considering a trip down the road he walked :-)

10:21 am  
Anonymous Tangential said...

I don't think anyone who has tasted the flavors of love once can resist from doing so again and again and again. Hurt notwithstanding. The 'highs' triggered by the emotion is an addiction and a very potent one at that.
I recall reading something about pheromones (love molecules) a long time ago. Although I don't remember exactly what it was the article said, the underlying message was that chemicals play a vital role in influencing our feelings. To say that a single molecule can influence a complex emotion may be farfetched… but not if you think of the fact that our anatomy is entirely composed of atoms and molecules.

2:54 pm  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

Well for some it may be just the smelling of flowers and flitting from garden to garden. Fear of committment methinks. But then there are those who truly love and lose, and yet move on. But when it happens once too often and quite frequently I tend to wonder if it isn't lust or infatuation. Love runs deeper. And lasts much stronger.

7:01 pm  
Blogger Enemy of the Republic said...

Ghost: Some people are love addicts; some are sex addicts. In both cases, they want a fulfillment that they missed out on at some part in their life. They also cannot approach real intimacy; like Don Juan, the act, the seduction, the romance was the high. The other stuff is boring. Falling in love is all very nice, but committing to someone, even when love is the last thing on your mind, is what love is. I know people that you are describing; they are looking for a high and ultimately the love they may want is selfish and manipulative. Now, none of us are perfect, and in love and friendship, we all do this to some degree. But when it becomes our life's mission, there is a problem.

8:24 pm  
Anonymous scarecrow said...

Hmmm intresting....
never knew abt that Multiple partner's streak of Camus. But then this again raises a question as one Camus's point abt not commiting suicide after accepting the absurdity of life was that he considered it below one's dignity...So i was just wondering the where he drew the line b/w extra marital affairs and dignity but then again questioning this or interpreting anything from it will again be against the very concept of existentialism...

9:06 pm  
Blogger km said...

Why do people fall in love over and over again? The thrill of the chase, I suppose. And cheap beer.

(If you want to read a more Don Juan-like French writer, you are better off reading Simenon :))

1:58 am  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

Tangential: That's a bit of a sweeping statement, isn't it, that anyone who's been in love once will want to fall once more? Hurt notwithstanding, you say. I know people who don't ever want to be in a serious relationship again. So, I think it depends on one's circumstances and the degree of hurt.

I've also heard about such molecules and that the process is a chemical reaction...seems silly, doesn't it? :-)



M: I don't know if it amounts to fear of commitment. Who knows, maybe it does. Maybe it amounts to not knowing what you really want. Some kind of insecurity, perhaps?


Enemy of the State: Addiction? I guess that's one way to look at it and, I suppose, Don Juan was addicted to the whole process of seduction.


Scarecrow: Yeah, till I did that Google search, even I didn't know about his multiple partners. And, somehow, his whole defence of Don Juanism falls into place after that.

I'm not sure he refers to suicide as undignified. He simply goes on to describe how, he thinks, despite all the meaninglessness of life, suicide is not the "legitimate" option. And, according to him, living life to the fullest is one of the ways to combat that meaninglessness. Now, if you think about it, specifically in terms of our new info, it all comes together, doesn't it? :-)



KM: Cheap beer? Hmm, now that's a new one :-)

I haven't read any of his stuff but I've heard of the MANY exploits of Simenon. A colourful man with a colourful life

5:37 pm  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

Perhaps :)

7:42 pm  
Anonymous Tangential said...

Enemy of the Republic: I think you're confusing love with sacrifice and committment with compromise, when you say, committing to someone, even when love is the last thing on your mind, is what love is.
Ohhhhlalala... the consequences of believing that this is love is mighty dangerous bcoz sooner or later (sooner, I believe) the facade will blow up right in your face forcing you to reconsider your notion of love.


Ghost of TJ: Not wanting to get into a serious or casual relationship is a matter of choice. Falling in love is not. Or so I believe. We don't choose to fall in/(out of) love with someone. It happens.
Far from silly, the molecules theory, I think is a cozy scientific explanation as to why we behave the way we do.

2:43 pm  
Anonymous Sonia said...

suuure you can. only be warned that i might punch you on the nose for it! :P

4:01 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

M: :-)


Tangential: When I said serious relationship, I meant being in love. Because without it I'm not sure it can be categorised as serious. Sure, you can't decide to fall in love but, my point is, if you keep all the doors and windows shut, there isn't much that can get in, is there? :-)


Sonia: What a violent person you are! :-)

11:47 pm  
Anonymous Sonia said...

:) u think?

2:10 pm  
Blogger Bidi-K said...

is it love that you fall in over and over again, or just the idea that you are in love? a transitory phase that fades with knowing more about the person, the things you dislike etc. and then the next love is a new adventure, those initial feelings all over again. and maybe sometimes people don't like the feeling of being taken for granted after a while. and maybe i am just rambling :)

8:36 pm  
Blogger Cocaine Jesus said...

stream of consciousness maybe.
highly thought making certainly.
in my experience there are certainly a number of both men and women who fill those categorys.
interesting.

2:19 pm  
Blogger kundalini said...

since i have no well-formed opinions to offer on the matter, here's an off topic comment - you write very well, ghost. nice catching up with your posts. :)

8:15 am  
Anonymous Tangential said...

GhostofTJ: Love, when it has to come will make its way through the narrowest of passages. No door/window is secure enough. Install firewall if u may.

On another vein, this triggered by a ringtone on someone's mobile. It was a an old song I liked a lot once upon a time. The guy probably didn't want to answer and kept switching off the mobile every time it rang. The caller was persistent. What happened was that I ended up listening to one of my favorite songs over and over again. It happened a few times but in that brief period, somehow the value of that song diminished.
So what was that again... Why should it be essential to love rarely in order to love much.
If this is true in the case of a song, leaves me wondering if it's true in other cases as well...

1:33 pm  
Blogger sattva said...

my chavanni..i believe that everyone has endless love in them. some are aware of it and live it, others are not or do not. and by 'endless love', i don't mean endless relationships :)

and i second kundalini...your posts have a lovely flow. keep at it!

4:55 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

Sonia: Do I think so? Of course, I do. You're the new age Rani of Jhansi :-)



Bidi-K: Oh no, I don't think you're rambling :-) That's what I said too in an earlier post...that, many times, people are simply so eager to fall in love that they often believe they are. As you say, in love with the idea of love.


Cociane Jesus: There sure are, sir! Thanks. :-)



Kundalini: Thanks. Nice to see you back
and posting again :-)



Tangential: That ringtone analogy is nice and interesting but more appropriate for infatuation, don't you think?

About doors and windows and firewalls...maybe my analogy wasn't appropriate either. What I mean is that if your mind is closed to something, you won't recognise it even if you see it.


Sattva: Maybe you're right. Maybe everyone has endless supplies but endless relationships is what we are talking about. Does that mean an abundance of the emotion? Or simply a greater ability to express?

Thaks :-)

5:44 pm  
Blogger clash said...

The search ends in having a partner of the same sex! A vicious circle.

10:57 am  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

Clash: Hi! Same sex? Sure, why not...if that's how one is inclined. But what makes you so sure that this search ends with having a partner of the same sex? Remember what happened to Ellen De Generes and Anne Heche? A few years into the relationship, Heche realised that she doesn't want a same-sex partner and, suddenly, she became a hetrosexual!! The gender of the partner has nothing to do with this.

8:03 pm  
Blogger Sonia said...

*grin* aw shadaaap! you're just saying that!

11:52 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

Sonia: No, really! You think I'll kid about something like this? :-)

10:36 am  
Blogger upunge said...

hi your post was very interesting. may i suggest you have a look at "in the mood for love" by wong kar wai and its sequel "2046". in the latter the main character becomes a womaniser attracted by women who reflect a certain aspect of his lost love. that's a crude summarisation of this movie, which is a brillant metaphorical exploration of the theme : "how does one forget about one's past love ? for some it takes a moment, for others, it takes a lifetime" i don't want to say too much for fear of spoiling your viewing but i do warmly recommend these two movies. the camera work ! the music !

1:11 am  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

Upunge: And I will too...watch these films, I mean...if I can lay my hands on them. 2046 sounds absolutely wonderful already :-) Thanks a ton...and thanks for visiting and leaving comments :-)

11:17 am  
Anonymous **silvermoon** gel said...

To answer your question, ghost, I didn't become a psychiatrist because I'd care too much. I'm practical and pragmatic, but the emotional drain takes its toll. I wouldn't be able to leave their troubles "at the office."

I wouldn't be able to continually distance myself enough from my patients' problems. That is essential. The desire to help them would consume me and drain me. I'm almost "too empahetic." At various times in my life, I've needed to turn off my cell phone instead of keeping it by my bed as the ER number for those in need, etc...

1:05 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

SilverMoon**Gel: Now that you metion it, it seems like a perfectly good reason not to pursue psychiatry. If asked, I think I would have the same reason for not taking this up myself. It would be too draining ad gut wrenching, I agree.

12:17 am  
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