John Roman

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Love Is Masochistic

"Love is masochistic. These cries and complaints, these sweet alarms. This anguished state of lovers, this suspense, this latent pain that is just below the surface, almost unexpressed, these thousand & one anxieties over the loved one’s absence, this feeling of time rushing by, this touchiness, these fits of temper, these long daydreams, this childish fickleness of behavior, this moral torture where vanity and self-esteem, or perhaps honor, upbringing and modesty are at stake, these highs and lows in the nervous tone, these leaps of imagination, this fetishism, this cruel precision of senses, whipping and probing, the collapse, the prostration, the abdication, the self-abasement, the perpetual loss and recovery of one’s personality, these stammered words and phrases, these pet-names, this intimacy, these hesitations in physical contact, these epileptic tremors, these successive and even more frequent relapses, this more and more turbulent and stormy passion with its ravages progressing to the point of complete inhibition and annihilation of the soul, the debility of the senses, the exhaustion of the marrow, the erasure of the brain and even the desiccation of the heart, this yearning for ruin, for destruction, for mutilation, this need of effusiveness, of adoration, of mysticism, this insatiability which expresses itself in hyper-irritability of the of mucus membranes, in errant taste, in vasomotor or peripheral disorders, and which conjures up jealousy and vengeance, crimes, prevarications and treacheries, this idolatry, this incurable melancholy, this apathy, this profound moral misery, this definitive and harrowing doubt, this despair—are not all these stigmata the very symptoms of love in which we can first diagnose, then trace with a sure hand, the clinical curve of masochism?”

- Blaise Cendrars, selection from Moravagine

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Love & Self-Limitation

"Only as one of my feelings do I harbour love; but as a power above me, as a divine power, as Feuerbach says, as a passion that I am not to cast off, as a religious and moral duty, I - scorn it. As my feeling it is mine; as a principle to which I consecrate and "vow" my soul it is a dominator and divine, just as hatred as a principle is diabolical; one not better than the other. In short, egoistic love, my love, is neither holy nor unholy, neither divine nor diabolical.

"A love that is limited by faith is an untrue love. The sole limitation that does not contradict the essence of love is the self-limitation of love by reason, intelligence. Love that scorns the rigour, the law, of intelligence, is theoretically a false love, practically a ruinous one.”

So love is in its essence rational! So thinks Feuerbach; the believer, on the contrary, thinks, Love is in its essence believing. The one inveighs against irrational, the other against unbelieving, love. To both it can at most rank as a splendidum vitium. Do not both leave love standing, even in the form of unreason and unbelief? They do not dare to say, irrational or unbelieving love is nonsense, is not love; as little as they are willing to say, irrational or unbelieving tears are not tears. But, if even irrational love, etc., must count as love, and if they are nevertheless to be unworthy of man, there follows simply this: love is not the highest thing, but reason or faith; even the unreasonable and the unbelieving can love; but love has value only when it is that of a rational or believing person. It is an illusion when Feuerbach calls the rationality of love its ”self-limitation”; the believer might with the same right call belief its “self-limitation.” Irrational love is neither “false” nor “ruinous”; it does its service as love…

Where the world comes in my way - and it comes in my way everywhere - I consume it to quiet the hunger of my egoism. For me you are nothing but - my food, even as I too am fed upon and turned to use by you. We have only one relation to each other, that of usableness, of utility, of use. We owe each other nothing, for what I seem to owe you I owe at most to myself. If I show you a cheery air in order to cheer you likewise, then your cheeriness is of consequence to me, and my air serves my wish; to a thousand others, whom I do not aim to cheer, I do not show it.

- Max Stirner, selection from The Ego & Its Own


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The Concept of Anxiety

"Anxiety is a qualification of dreaming spirit, and as such it has its place in psychology. Awake, the difference between myself and my other is posited; sleeping, it is suspended; dreaming, it is an intimated nothing. The actuality of the spirit constantly shows itself as a form that tempts its possibility but disappears as soon as it seeks to grasp for it, and it is a nothing that can only bring anxiety. More it cannot do as long as it merely shows itself. [Anxiety] is altogether different from fear and similar concepts that refer to something definite, whereas anxiety is freedom’s actuality as the possibility of possibility…

Anxiety may be compared with dizziness. He whose eye happens to look down the yawning abyss becomes dizzy. But what is the reason for this? It is just as much in his own eye as in the abyss, for suppose he had not looked down. Hence, anxiety is the dizziness of freedom, which emerges when the spirit wants to posit the synthesis and freedom looks down into its own possibility, laying hold of finiteness to support itself. Freedom succumbs to dizziness. Further than this, psychology cannot and will not go. In that very moment everything is changed, and freedom, when it again rises, sees that it is guilty. Between these two moments lies the leap, which no science has explained and which no science can explain. He who becomes guilty in anxiety becomes as ambiguously guilty as it is possible to become…

In actuality, no one ever sank so deep that he could not sink deeper, and there may be one or many who sank deeper. But he who sank in possibility — his eye became dizzy, his eye became confused… . [W]hoever is educated by possibility is exposed to danger, not that of getting into bad company and going astray in various ways as are those educated by the finite, but in danger of a fall, namely, suicide. If at the beginning of education he misunderstands the anxiety, so that it does not lead him to faith but away from faith, then he is lost. On the other hand, whoever is educated [by possibility] remains with anxiety; he does not permit himself to be deceived by its countless falsification and accurately remembers the past. Then the assaults of anxiety, even though they be terrifying, will not be such that he flees from them. For him, anxiety becomes a serving spirit that against its will leads him where he wishes to go.”

- Søren Kierkegaard, from The Concept of Anxiety (1844)

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The Absurdity of Your Dream

"Sometimes you dream strange dreams, impossible and unnatural; you wake up and remember them clearly, and are surprised at a strange fact: you remember first of all that reason did not abandon you during the whole course of your dream; you even remember that you acted extremely cleverly and logically for that whole long, long time when you were surrounded by murderers, when they were being clever with you, concealed their intentions, treated you in a friendly way, though they already had their weapons ready and were only waiting for some sort of sign; you remember how cleverly you finally deceived them, hid from them; then you realize that they know your whole deception by heart and merely do not show you that they know where you are hiding; but you are clever and deceive them again—all that you remember clearly. But why at the same time could your reason be reconciled with such obvious absurdities and impossibilities, with which, among other things, your dream was filled? Before your eyes, one of your murderers turned into a woman, and from a woman into a clever, nasty little dwarf—and all that you allowed at once, as an accomplished fact, almost without the least perplexity, and precisely at the moment when, on the other hand, your reason was strained to the utmost, displaying extraordinary force, cleverness, keenness, logic? Why, also, on awakening from your dream and entering fully into reality, do you feel almost every time, and occasionally with an extraordinary force of impressions, that along with the dream you are leaving behind something you have failed to fathom? You smile at the absurdity of your dream and feel at the same time that the tissue of those absurdities contains some thought, but a thought that is real, something that belongs to your true life, something that exists and has always existed in your heart; it is as if your dream has told you something new, prophetic, awaited; your impression is strong, it is joyful or tormenting, but what it is and what has been told to you—all that you can neither comprehend nor recall."

- Fyodor Dostoyevsky, selection from The Idiot

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Metaphysical Anguish Is a Laugh

"You make me laugh, with your metaphysical anguish. It’s just that you’re scared silly, frightened of life, of men of action, of action itself, of lack of order. But everything is disorder, dear boy. Vegetable, mineral, and animal: all disorder. And so is the multitude of human races, the life of man, thought, history, wars, inventions, business and the arts, and all theories, passions, and systems. It’s always been that way. Why are you trying to make something out of it? And what will you make? What are you looking for? There is no Truth. There’s only action - action obeying a million different impulses: ephemeral action, action subjected to every possible and imaginable contingency and contradiction. Life. Life is crime, theft, jealousy, hunger, lies, disgust, stupidity, sickness, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, piles of corpses. What can you do about it, my poor friend?"

- Blaise Cendrars, selection from Moravagine