Saturday, 2 December 2006
Writing about love
Love is a difficult thing to write about, not because it manifests itself in the world in impossible ways (I mean, impossible to apprehend, impossible to reproduce in the novelistic idiom—although there may be something in this) but because love by its nature inflects so large a quantity of desire that its representation gets pulled out of shape. Love in fiction becomes the textual expression of how we desire love to be. As a result we are continually getting it wrong. I'm talking about more than the simple form, the familiar erotic-romantic fantasies where you get the guy, and he’s a splendid fellow; or you get the girl and she’s a doll (though that's clearly one way of getting it wrong). I'm talking about more complex forms too, for they do not escape the black-hole-tugging ellipses of desire mapped onto lived-experience; even tales of the woe in marriage, of desperate affairs or exploitative relations tend to represent sex as mind-blowing, love as life-consuming. This is the shape of our desire for desire.