I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life. FERNANDO PESSOA

Monday, 20 January 2014

Love Is An Absence

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

MATTHEW ARNOLD Dover Beach

More from Christian Bobin and his book The Very Lowly: A Meditation on Francis of Assisi. In this quote Bobin is aware how quickly, unthinkingly and indiscriminately we rise to praise and blame:

The word of adoration, like the word of malediction, is completely ignorant of what it names, and moreover, the two sometimes succeed each other with only a second's interval on the same lips, in reference to the same object, in reference to the same person.

The love Bobin attempts to describe, and Francis instinctively lives, is a quite different kind of love from the earthbound love found in the trappings of human matrimony:

For marriages wear out love, tire it out, draw it into the seriousness and weight that is the place of the world.

True love — that's agape not eros — has nothing to do with the self and the self's desires: 

You expect of love that it will fill and fulfil you. But love does not fill anything, not the hole that you have in your head, nor the abyss that you have in your heart. Love is an absence much more than a fullness. Love is a fullness of absence.

Love is an absence much more than a fullness. Love is a fullness of absence. These two sentences blew me away.

We are creators, we are builders, we are masters and controllers, we are influential parents, we are great artists . . . aren't we? Rather, don't all our proud and ego-reflecting creations take on a life of their own far from us . . . then crumble into dust?

For we are masters of nothing. What we create is immediately separated from us. Our creations are ignorant of us, our children are not our children. Moreover, we do not create anything. Nothing whatsoever. A man's days are to him what skins are to a snake. They shine for a time in the sun and then they come away.

Love dwells in a completely different realm from the world of trade and society, the world of ego, self-gratification and ignorance:  

The world wants its sleep . . . But love wants awakening.

7 comments:

George said...

This post confirms that I was right to order my copy of Christian Bobin's book on St. Francis, and I'm looking forward to receiving it in the next couple of days. I find Bobin's words to be very comforting, for they underscore that true love may be experienced more naturally in emptiness than in the fulfillment that one might have once expected. You are absolutely right: True love "has nothing to do with the self and the self's desires."

Hildred said...

I couldn't agree more that true love "has nothing to do with the self and the self's desires" but sometimes it takes us a long time to learn this, - perhaps even a lifetime to fully accept it. Thank you for the quote from Dover Beach and the little arrow pointing to the Bobin book......

The Solitary Walker said...

This book is a little treasure house, George.

Thanks for your comment, Hildred. Nice to see you again.

John Pendrey said...

I've ordered the Bobin book too.

The Solitary Walker said...

Great!. Looks like the interest is spreading. Welcome, John, to my blog.

dritanje said...

This is wonderful to see several people inspired by Bobin and thanks to you, solitary walker! I've been immersed in work lately and it's marvellous to come back and read your translations of excerpts from Bobin and everyone's enthusiasm. He's a bit like Rumi I feel, in that his words WATER something in me, that rejoices on reading them.

John Pendrey said...

Half way and such a joy to read. I was feeling down but reading this words seduced me immediately into his meditation. At least for the duration I was in a different state.