More than once this term I have said, to Alex, “I don’t like Jimmy Corrigan, I hate his misery, his abominable sadness. The way his misery comes from inappropriate want.” But of course I also hate that in myself.
What do I want? I am not sure, except that I know that I am always wanting. To what extent this is merely a physiological circumstance is unclear to me: I know running helps. I know I can want less. I know I can want more. At the Medieval Women Workshop a man reads about love (as madness) in the Symposium and love (as madness) in the work of a medieval female mystic. The conversation turned to dissolution, and language.
I wanted to say, “On the topic of dissolution I always think of Dido on the bonfire in the Aeneid, the Trojans glimpsing the smoke from afar.” In response to a question from the back making the connection between Plato and the mystic their use of language, I wanted to say, “Language—as both Jacques Lacan says in Seminar XX and Anne Carson in her study of the origins of the Ancient Greek lyric—is the origin of want. It is where boundaries of self are first threatened.”
I said neither of those things. I thought it better to keep my ideas to myself, as if in doing so they will be made stronger, which is the opposite of what will take place. It is a delusion.
And sometimes love is. Love is madness but also is not. There are many kinds of love—divine love, romantic love, love for your neighbour, charitable love, lust. Their meanings are twisted and turned and shifted: love for the divine is romantic, lustful; love for the divine is merely the love for your neighbour who wishes to do you well and loves you in turn out of obligation, no more or less than he loves anyone else. What would it mean to love the divine so powerfully that he fulfills the want that is always inside you?
This is a question that I think of, sometimes, not because I have a particular desire to be religious but because I sometimes feel so undone by desire.