In this post, I want to continue with my thoughts about “attraction”, by talking about “passion”. I decided to do so because I think talking about “passion” could resolve some of the “conflict” between “love” and “passion”, and lead to further understanding about “true love”.
Here, I have to say first that as I look back to a few of my recent posts, I think I was trying to distinct “friendship” and “love” with “attraction”. But as I think about it (as I mentioned in my last post), the distinction is still not very clear. Now, as I think about it, it seems that “desire” might be better used to distinguish “love” with “friendship”. In the past, I have said that I think “passion” could be defined as “strong love”. But it seems that “strong desire” might be more appropriate to define “passion”. In fact, I think understanding the ambiguity about the definition of “passion” could be a key for understanding “love” (or, at least we can say that ambiguity of “passion”, “desire” and “attraction” are all contributing to the complicity of “love”).
In fact, the problem with “passion” is not just caused by the question of whether it is “strong love” or “strong desire”, but that the cause for “desire” can be various things. Actually, as I think about it, pretty much anything can cause “desire” for different people at different time. So, it is safe to say that “desire” is really a “wild card” in the matter of “love”.
In my prior post, I said I don’t think I can fully analyze the concepts of “attraction”, nor can I fully analyze “desire”, and “passion” at this time. But I do want to point out the complicity of these concepts. As I think about it, I probably can define “passion” as “strong desire” (or “desire”) caused or based on “attraction” and understanding (or “attraction” as results of understanding). By this definition, I think eliminated many things that commonly called “passion” (that often give “passion” bad name, or at least doubts).
I probably mentioned in my prior posts, it seems to me that Jane Austen’s “Emma” did not clearly display “desire” (or “passion”) of Mr. Knightley for Emma. But Jeremy Northam delivered it in his Mr. Knightley, which I think is a significantly improvement by the movie. Personally, I had been struggling with the choice between “understanding” and “passion” (as the requirements for “love”) for sometimes, and in the end I decided that I cannot give up on either one of them, which actually lead to my assertion of Love and Reason as the dual principles of Humanism (in my definition).
If we look at the history of “western culture” since Renaissance, it seems that misunderstanding of “passion” is a quite significant portion of it. However, the purpose of me writing this post is to clear up the misunderstanding and not to dismiss it because I think the importance of “passion” in “western culture” is its highlight, along with emphasizing reason. In other words, the principles of Love and Reason is within “western culture” (or in fact in all cultures, just in different degrees), although they are often twisted and misused.
Here, I want to go back and talk about “desire”. I don’t think all “desires” lead to “passion” and (or because) I don’t think all “desires” are caused by “attraction”. Here, I want to distinguish “attraction” and “desire” preliminarily (as I said earlier, I don’t think I can get to all these concepts in-depth at this post). It seems to me that “attraction” is the effect on people’s mind (or “heart” as commonly said, basically the emotional system), and “desire” is what drives people. This means “attraction” could lead to “desire”. But I don’t think all “desires” are caused by “attraction”. The simplest example is the “Street Car Named Desire”. In this story, the “desire” is clearly not caused by “attraction”. But what is the cause?
We probably could not get a very clear answer. But at least we can get answers that could quite possibly be true. The simplest answer is “hate”, which does not seem to make too much sense at first glance because at least the circumstances did not seem to justify that much “hate”.
If I have to point out one big problem in the world, it would be “hate”. I now come to a conclusion that at least many people have too much “hate”, although it is hidden in various forms and manifested in different ways. I think probably everyone living in this world has the right to be angry about the world, because the world we live in is really a very messy place (no, it is not just now, and I don’t think the past is better. It is just a matter of who feel it, and how they are manifested.) But I don’t think anyone should “hate”, at least one should not let “hate” control one’s actions. Sadly, this is not how many people operate.
“Street Car Named Desire” is quite an extreme case on surface, but I don’t think this kind of phenomenon is very rare. “Hate” means people would harm other people with no good reasons (in fact, there is no good reason to harm other people at all, although restraining people or prevent people from doing bad things is not straightly speaking harming people), and I don’t know how often this kinds of things happened (apparently a lot, more than we know of. The “Me Too” movement does give us some clues, and it is only one kind of examples). Actually I suspect that sometimes, people might just do things out of their habits, or just because they “feel like it” (meaning they have so much anger in them, they will take any chance that they can get away with to hurt others, which probably could explain the story of “Street Car Named Desire” as well).
In my previous posts, I talked about lack of “understanding” being the main cause of problems with finding “true love”. Now, as I think about it, the confusion about “desire” may cause more problems. Or, at least all these problems caused the complication with the matter of “true love”. So, here, I want to look at “desire” a little more closely. Generally speaking, we can divide the cause for “desire” into two categories: one is related to “attraction”, another is not (beside “hate”, sometimes “fear” can cause “desire”, even if not directly).
Here, I want to look at the “not” category a little further, before I look into the one related to “attraction”. First, I want to look at “sexual urge”. I think the significant difference between human and animals are the role of “sexual urge” played in their lives. But the difference is quite complicated. First, I want to point out that it is wrong for people to blame sexual assault (or anything similar to it) on “animal instinct”. According to my knowledge, at least among animals that are closest to humans, sexually acts are not forced by males (or females). They are generally following certain rather interesting ritual like acts, mostly males using certain types of persuasions to obtain consents from females.
In my past posts, I spent quite sometimes emphasizing that men and women are not very different. But in the matter of “desire” or “sexual urge”, men and women do have some differences (or even significant difference, depending on how we look at it). For example, males often initiate sexual acts. Hence, how desires operate among males and females are quite different. But I do want to emphasize that it seems to me “sexual urge” does not generally generate violence or intimating acts towards females among animals.
So, it seems to me, that the “desires” that are caused by things other than “attractions” seem to be the results of culture influences, not biological phenomenon. It seems that during the early development of human society, things had taken some very wrong turns, and we (the culture in general) were never been able to escape the shadows very far.
But on the other side, humans also regulate their “sexual urge” more than animals (in general). Granted that “sexual urge” can occur without particular person as stimulate. But I don’t think “sexual urge” mostly controls sexual acts because even among animals, sexual act is a selective act. So, it is fair to say that it is “desire”, not “sexual urge” that drives sexual acts. And, we could say that humans regulate their “sexual urge” more than animals, because most animals’ mating activities are not exclusive, and the process of “courtship” is not as complicated as humans.
I think it is not a coincident that Jeremy Northam’s Mr. Knightley is a significant improvement of Jane Austen’s “Emma”. I want to say that although I feel that Jane Austen’s “Emma” did not expressly display or emphasize “desire” or “passion” between Mr. Knightley and Emma(which I think is a quite significant “flaw”), adding “desire” or “passion” to their relationship is not a contradiction to the story, but an improvement of the story. It reflects the improvement of the story, and improvement of men and women over time. Jane Austen is well ahead of her time for sure. But at the same time, her time did leave marks on her work. I think not be able to reconcile “passion” and “reason” well is probably the most significant one (more about this point later. To be honest I don’t think this problem has been solved now, but I do think it is possible for this problem to be solved.)
But this is not just her problem, it is the problem of pretty much anyone. Or, we can say this is the problem of entire human race. You can say I am quite ambitious trying to solve this problem. But I don’t think this problem cannot be solved. At least it is worth to give it a try.
Here, I want to go back and look at “passion” closely. It seems that what we often call “passion” may not fit into the definition I provided, because “passion” as we ordinarily understand may be more close to “strong desire” than “strong love”, and not all “strong desire” are related to “love” (those that are not caused by “attraction” clearly are not, and even those that are caused by “attraction” might not lead to “love” either). This basically explains the conflict between “passion” (as it is commonly known) and “love” and why people are having problems reconcile “passion” with “love”.
As I said, I think the problem with “desire” is that it can be caused by pretty much anything in the world. I think this is basically the reflection of human culture or possibly the core of the “grand conspiracy”. As I said earlier, apparently “hate” or “fear” seem to be able to evoke “desire”. But even “desire” caused by “attraction” can be problematic if the “attraction” is caused things other than facts. Or, if the “attraction” is very complicated, the “desire” could be very complicated. And, if we consider that “desire” can be caused by things other “attraction” as well, and mix them all together, it could be very complicated.
Here I want to talk about “Gone with the Wind”. There seems to be some ambiguity about whether “Gone with the Wind” is a “popular story” or a “classic novel”. In the past, I did not pay much attention about this definition, but if you ask me now, I incline to categorize it as a “classic novel”, because it asked very pointed questions about “love” and life. In my previous posts, I have commented on “gothic love” supposedly being the most “pure” form of “love”. But I did not mention that in “real life” during that period (that “gothic love” was supposed to be the “norm”), rape (at least during certain period of time in some regions) was being committed more systematically than probably any other times in history (it is a coincident? Probably not. There seems to be a rule that the time that the most “perfect ideal” is being raised is often when the reality is quite unbearable. I will talk about this point later.)
“Gone with the Wind” seems to reflect this contradiction (more than I could write about here in depth, because there are so many complications in this story), and now as I think about, it seems to reflect the “modern day reality” more than we thought. This story basically indicates western civilization’s struggle about “love” (and life), and “loss of love” has become the conclusion.
I started this blog with the discussion about “idealist” and “realist”. Now, I realized that I could draw my conclusion (I plan on finishing the posts under this title soon, and starting a new title “About ‘Emma’ Continuation” to continue with more discussion about subjects I have not fully analyzed, and I plan on publish a book with the content of the posts of “About “Emma” soon).
As I reflect on “Emma”, now it becomes clear to me that the arguments between Mr. Knightley and Emma also reflect the arguments between “idealist” and “realist” as well (well, I started off with this argument, but it is a lot more clear than in the beginning). But the difference of “Emma” is the underlining principle of this story is not “perfection” or particular “ideal” as basic principle, but Love and Reason as the basic principles. The quests of “idealists” (in traditional sense) will often fail, because those “ideals” are not actually “perfect” (only Love and Reason can be basic principles, any other “ideals” will have flaws that could lead to all kinds of disasters), so insisting on upholding those ideals will often do more harm than not. More importantly, those who “believe” the “ideals” often resist changes, because they often would think that the problems with the world is not because the “ideals” are wrong, but because people are not following the “ideals” enough. And, people who seek “perfection” (in substance) could also be afraid of taking risks so they will not be able to change the world and becomes useless at least. But if “idealist” means people will follow Love and Reason as their basic principles, then all the problems with the “idealist” (in traditional sense) cease to exist.
“Realists” (in traditional sense) that think that the “reality” is the “rule” will not be able to make any positive changes to the world (as they will most likely be “selfish” people and often amplify what serve them the best, at the expense of others.) If “realists” refuse to acknowledge any principles, then it will be more problematic. In fact, the only result this kind of people could lead to is destruction. Even “realist” that emphasize “prudence” would often run into problems because there are so many things in the world that are very unreasonable, being “prudent” will not lead to any real changes, and most likely will make the matter worse. However, if we think “realists” are the type of person who actually wants to “solve real world problems” based on the principles of Love and Reason (not rigidly follow the “traditional ideals”), then they would be the kind of people that we could also be.
The real problem with the arguments between “idealist” and “realist” (traditionally) is, there are all kinds of confusions and mixed up in the concepts, so (traditionally) the only results will be serving the “power structure” so they can use this argument to confuse people in anyway they want.
I want to use “Emma” to illustrate the problems with the definition of “idealist” and “realist”. First, who are the “idealist” and “realist” in “Emma”? At first glance, we can say that Emma could represent “idealist” (for emphasizing “passion”), and Mr. Knightley could represent “realist” (for emphasizing “prudence”). I want to say that straightly speaking Mr. Knightley is not exactly a “realist”, and as I have said before, he is not very straightly “prudent”. But basically in all the disagreements he had with Emma, he is basically representing the “conventional view”, although we probably can say that his view might be more “sensible” than the “common conventional view” (or, we could say his view is the “conventional view in most favorable light”). But he is not exactly the “voice of reason”. In fact, in pretty much all the arguments between him and Emma, Emma is probably mostly right in substance, although in appearance, she seems to be quite wrong.
For example, the meddling of Harriet Smith’s “love life” is basically the center piece of “Emma”. And, we probably can conclude that not only it is wrong for Emma to meddle with other people’s life, the issue she was trying to take also seems to a “loss cause”. But is it? Previously I already questioned this conclusion. Now, I want to go further.
What I am trying to say is, I think it is quite right for her to insist on women ought to select men based on whether they are “cultured or not”, if this standard is based on whether men will following the basically principles of Love and Reason, because I believe only if a person follows the basically principles of Love and Reason, we can use the term “good person” (if this term has any real meaning), and I don’t think it is too much to ask (or at least it should not be too much to ask) for women (or people in general) to choose their “one and only” based on this standard. It is truth that she was not very clear what “cultured” means in the beginning at least, but I don’t think many people are qualified to condemn her on this.
Actually, I think “cultured” could mean more. It could mean “of essence”. It is quite common for people to say “be yourself”. But what is “yourself”? It does look like many people need to find themselves, and being “cultured” could mean people have gone through this process. There are many ideas existing in this world, and inevitably people are influenced by them. Unfortunately many wrong ideas have had great influences on people, because people often accept them without careful consideration, and often under intentional manipulations. Being “cultured” could mean that people have consciously chosen their value systems after careful considerations of existing knowledge. This point could be very valuable in searching for “true love”, because one needs to know what is one’s “essence” in order to find someone that could agree with one “in essence”.
Being “cultured” could mean even more. Actually, this point could be particular useful in solving conflicts between “passion” and “love”. I think the problem with “passion” at least have something to do with people are focusing too much on the “strong” portion of the “strong desire”, than focusing to make sure their understanding about “desire” is correct. And, for people that are quite confusing about “essence”, “strong emotions” could mostly be caused by external stimulates that are new and volatile. Granted these kinds of effects may occur to people that are “cultured” as well, but for people who are “less cultured”, these kinds of sources might have more weight. The actual dynamics of “passion” is a lot more complicated, because of the complicity of “attraction” and “desire”. But here, I like to point out that people who are clear about their “essence” and act based on the principles of Love and Reason may more likely be “passionate” about “true love” than otherwise.
Here, I like to clarify that “cultured” does not necessarily means “educated”, because as I stated many times, the culture system has many flaws. So, people need to have the ability to think for themselves in order to establish their value system that is based on the principles of Love and Reason. But, lack of some fundamental knowledge could be very problematic as well.
Interestingly, we can also say that Emma is a “realist” (what can make real changes based on the basic principles of Love and Reason), and Mr. Knightley is an “idealist” because if we deem that the “rule” for “marriage” is “prudent” (I think this view is far more popular than people want to admit), then he seems to be a “true believer” in the beginning. Actually, as I think about it, Mr. Knightley is probably more of an “idealist” than Emma if we emphasize being an “idealist” means “seeking perfection”. As I said in my earlier post, I don’t think Mr. Knightley was “in love” with Emma in the beginning, and do think he had considered Jane Fairfax as a potential “love interest”. In other words, “Emma” is a story of two friends finding “love” in each other in their quest for “love”.
Basically, Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax were the models of “ideal love interests” for Emma and Mr. Knightley. But they are not actually their “ideal love” because “passion” is missing. I think Emma is quite clear that she think “passion” is most important in the matter of “love”. But when she found out that the “passionate” person (Frank Churchill) is not “passionate” about her, she is not “in love”. So, we can say she is both “idealist” (holding the “ideal” of “passion” high) and “realist” (base her ”love” on facts, not imagination) in sensible combination, and true model of a person following the principles of Love and Reason. Mr. Knightley’s view on “love” seems to emphasize more on “perfection”. But when he would not found “passion” in Jane Fairfax (the model of “perfection”), his view changed (based on this experience). So, he too is our true model of a person following the principles of Love and Reason. They become who they are in different ways, but they do come to agreement in the end. I think the story of “Emma” is an clear indication that “passion” (with the emphasis on “desire”) is what distinguish “friendship” with “love” (Mr. Knightley’s statement that he wants to be “more than friend” is a clear indication).
The purpose of this thought process is to reconcile the conflict between “passion” and “love”. So, to reiterate, this conflict is at least mostly due to the fact that the “desire” in “passion” often has some problems in it. The first set of problems is that the “desire” is not caused by “attraction”. The second set of problems is that the “desire” is not caused by “attractions” that are factual based. I said I categorize “Gone with the Wind” as a “classic novel” because it is not only very pointed, it is also very complicated as well. First of all, is the “desire” that Rhett Butler has for Scarlett O’Hara caused by “attraction”? I think I can probably say it is not entirely caused by “attraction”. And, is the “attraction” factual based? And, how about the “attraction” Scarlett O’Hara has for Ashley Wilkes? I guess we will first need to ask the question of what “factual based” means.
This is probably where most of the complications reside. I think the complication starts with the question of what is “essence”. And the answer to this question is related to what I had talked in my previous post, what we think we are (or what we admire), and our mode of operations (or how we act). I think the core of the conflict between “idealist” and “realist” is the disconnection between the “moral code” and the actual “rules of operation”. This conflict has never been solved not exactly because people are “bad” (or that too many people are “bad”), but also because that the “moral code” has fundamentally flaws.
The most important flaw in the “moral code” is the requirement of “altruism” (emphasizing “unconditional love” and “devotion” is an important portion of it. I have written more about the “moral code” in my earlier posts), because it is against the fundamental rules of living beings. The role of consciousness plays in any living beings is to protect the well beings of oneself. Therefore, any rules that contradict this will fail. But this does not mean that people are fundamentally “bad”, if they can operate based on the basic principles of Love and Reason. People need to Love themselves first. But it does not mean they are inevitably “selfish” (if we define “selfish” as people can only think about themselves). The problem of “selfishness” ruining the world is not because people are inevitably “selfish”, but because the “moral code” (as it is existing now) made people this way, or at least bias against people who are not “selfish” (the fact that people are mostly left on their own do not help either. I think it is fair to say that if there is no systematic care by the society, selfness is more likely than not going to be the result.)
At first glance, “Emma” seems to be a book promoting “altruism”. But is it? If we look closely, I don’t think so. For example, both Emma and Mr. Knightley are very “charitable”. But are they “charitable” when “love” is “at stake”? No. At the conclusion of the story, if we judge them based on the principle of “altruism”, we can condemn them (or at least Emma) as being hypocrite. In fact, Mr. Knightley might be even “worse”. There at least two occasions that Mr. Knightley could be more “charitable” (for Jane Fairfax and for Harriet Smith), but he did not do so. Now, as we look at it, this book could very well be a rebuttable against “altruism”, because “altruism” requires people to make “sacrifice”. But for what? “Love” is not “love” if it is not true (well, I guess what I am trying to say here is, one cannot pretend to “love” someone if one doesn’t feel this way. Well, there are many people doing exactly this on their own, but to force people to do so based on “charity” is something else. Analyzing all the “trickeries” in the world is a daunting task. I am not doing so now.) My point is, one can be “charitable” with things that are not “essential” to them (such as Mr. Knightley giving up the last basket of apples), but ask people to give up something “essential” to them is too much to ask (most people respond to this requirement by being hypocrite, hence the starting point of the messy “moral system.)
I want to go back and talk more about “desires” that are not caused by “attraction”. Actually, I want to talk about the “mode of operation” in human courtship. I have conceded that there are some differences between males and females in “mating rituals” of animals, and these differences may be carried over to humans. But if we look closely, not necessarily so. Actually, there seems to be some switching between genders as well. For examples, for many animals (at least for many birds), males often have more colorful “coats” than females, while in humans women are mostly more decorated than men(in modern days at least. In some human cultures, male grooming could be more sophisticated than modern men).
My point is, “desire” for females is always quite ambiguous. Actually, I think human cultures are mostly emphasizing on suppressing it. As I think about it, it seems that both men and women (at least many of them) are quite suspicions about “passion”, but for different reasons (well, maybe different in surface, not in essence).
Here, I want to talk about “seduction”. I used the word “persuasion” instead of “seduction” when talking about the “technics” of male animals using their physical attributes to attract females because it seems to me that the word “seduction” indicates some questionable motive, meaning some kind of deception. But in humans, men don’t often use this kind of techniques. Rather, it is mostly women that are using the same kinds of techniques but with some further twists. It seems that for women, “being beautiful” is the most desirable “virtue” (in “real life”, it comes somewhat a “commodity”, basically the counter part of “money” and both of them as the two pillars of the power structure). So, basically, women’s first “duty” is to groom themselves to be “beautiful”. But then, there are complications in the “norm”. Is the goal of the grooming for being “desirable” or emphasizing “beauty” as “something good on its own”? This ambiguity reflects the ambiguity of the role of “sex” and “desire” in the matter of “love”. Probably the “practical solution” is for women to “embody beauty” in public, and only evoke desire when she is with “her man”.
This entire “arrangement” means women are basically passive (as choosing who to “love”), cannot have “desire” on their own (or at least will not have a mechanism for them to fulfill their “desires” even if they have them.) Now, as I think about it, it seems that the only way that women could be able to fulfill their “desires” for men is to be friends with men. I know, it might seem shocking for various different reasons.
First of all, at least it might appears that I have rejected the idea of “being friends” as way of “becoming something more”. Second, at least in general, men do not seem to like the idea of “being friends” as way of “becoming something more” very much at all.
In general, I think women do not seem to have too much problem with being friends with men. But men often seem to have more problems about it. I am talking about this without considering how their significant others feel. For example, women might have problems with their “significant other” being friends with women, which could cause problems for men. The same might be true for women as well.
However, here, I will focus on the situation where both men and women are single, and look at this from the point of view of whether and how friendship might help them to find “true love” (I already talked about the situations when they are not single in my previous posts). I think there are at least some concerns with some people that friendship may somehow have negative effects on “romance”, and friendship might contradict “desire” and “passion”. I think sometimes, women might have the same kind of concern as well. But should they really be concerned? I don’t think so.
As I said, I write many of the thoughts based on my own experiences, and it is possible that different people may feel differently. So, it is possible that my thoughts may not be completely true for other people. But I doubt there is too much difference. I am writing this because my own experience often are quite different from what we are told (“passion” based on the “desire” to control, or anything related to “hate” or “fear” is one example. Personally, I never really feel this kind of passion. So, I don’t even know how real they actually are).
My point is, I don’t think “passion” (based on my definition) is caused by imagination. It is possible that imagination could at least aid “attraction” (or probably a lot of “strong attractions” are at least aided by imagination, this is probably why “passion” are often associated with imagination). But I think “passion” would generally be caused by interactions. So, I don’t think getting to know people more would necessarily reduce “passion”. Here, I want to say that I suspect that “passion” might have been exaggerated (and twisted) too much by imagination in art and literature, and our understanding about them might be quite far from reality.
It is also possible that people are concerned that starting with friendship could “set the wrong tone” in their relationship. People may have different personality, and their expectation for relationship would be different as well. So, I don’t mean to suggest that everyone should feel the same way on what kind of relationship they will have. But my point is, if people (or mostly men) don’t have the “fear of inferiority”, then they should not have too much problem with being friends first, before developing relationship.
Would being friends somehow “kill the moods”? I don’t think so. It is possible women feel “desire” less than men, or at least it manifests differently in women than men. But it seems that women more likely feel “desire” when they are desired (at least from men that they are “attracted” to, but “attraction” is not static as well. So, I don’t think getting to know each other better will hurt anything, if they are “meant to be”, meaning they are actually “compatible”), and the same mechanism would (or at least could) apply to men as well. So, if men could feel confidence in themselves, they would not have need to fear starting potential relationship with friendship first. In fact, men that follow the basically principles of Love and Reason would want to do so, because they would want to know more about each other, in order to determine if there could be a potential relationship.
I think essentially, this problem might have more to do with imbalance of the role of men and women in the “traditional relationship”. As I just mentioned, in “traditional relationship”, women are quite passive. But in friendship, men and women would likely be more equal (and men might feel they are too passive, and not like it for this reason.)
I want to say that although I think “being friends” first might be a good way to start a relationship, I don’t insisting on this is the only way to start a relationship. And, although “being friends” first might lead to people to know each other better, it does not necessarily means that they would know all that they need to know about whether it is “true love”. As I said, I think “intimacy” itself is the only way to establish “intimate love”, and whether it is “true love” might still need to stand the “test of time” because there could still be hidden factors that were not discovered before.
Basically what I am saying is, I don’t think “virginity” should have anything to do with “virtue”, and I don’t think mistakes in the matter of “love” should have much to do with “virtues” either (as I said, the most important things is Love and Reason), and I don’t think “loyalty” should have anything to do with “love” as well.
But I don’t think it is at least troublesome for men to reject “friendship” with women in general, because it seems that it only means these men view women only as “sexual objects”, and only purpose of these men having interaction with women would be for the purpose of “possession”.
I have mentioned “hate” could be a cause for “desire”, with the example of “Street Car Named Desire”. But I also mentioned “fear” could be a cause for “desire” as well, without any explanation. I will explain here. What I mean is, “fear” could be a underline factor that cause “desire”, and I think this is actually more common than “hate” as the cause (to be honest, “hate” might be an underline factor sometimes, but “hate” that can directly cause “desire” may be more of fictional creation, than real life occurrence. More needs to be said about this topic, but not in this post.)
Let me explain further. Personally, I treasure “passion” is because I feel that not many men are very “passionate”. Granted it might have something to do with the ability (and willingness) of expression, and how developed one’s sensual system is. But I also suspect that many men may live their lives driven mostly by “fear” than anything else. By “fear”, I meant “fear of inferiority”. This is quite understandable. If world is built on a hierarchical “power structure”, and this “power structure” is built by men, then men is to be measured in some ways, and many men may have a fear of facing this judgement.
This “fear of inferiority” often reflected in their relationships, or to put it differently, how men view or treat women. It seems quite possibly that the success of men are measured (or manifested) in how many women they “have” (and/or can “get”), or at least what kind of women they can “get”. So, it becomes quite ambiguous whether they are interested in certain women (the way they view women) because they are “attracted” by them or because they are dealing with their “fear of inferiority” (meaning they are using women to prove they are “worthy”).
I think it is quite common when women pass certain age (it might be different for different women what the age is) talk about men, they often shake their head or roll their eyes and say “Men! What could you do about them?” I think it is fair to say that the common consensus is, men are more “messed up” than women, especially when we are talking about dealing with relationships, and many people will attribute to their “animal instincts”.
I can offer many different reasons. First of all, it is quite confusing to be men. Are they supposed to love one woman for their entire lives, or they should try to have sex with as many women as possible? Are they supposed to choose women because of their beauty, or “virtues” (and what are they)? Not to mention they also need to worry whether to be an “idealist” or “realist” (women will also face this question. However, women are not really measured by their success because at least for the most part, they are being written off already when they are born)?
How can men not be so “messed up” if they don’t even know what they are supposed to do? They can’t. But they have to pretend they have “everything under control”, this will provide more reasons they are so “messed up”. But men can also say that women are very “messed up” as well. For example, I think Mr. Knightley’s comments about women being “vane” and having “weak mind” could be quite on point (at least for most women). Women are measured by their “beauty”, this is a predominate factor that cannot be ignored, if they are relying on men (men will have to look at this factor, even for different reasons). This kind of insecurity basically mirrors men’s “fear of inferiority”. And, if they are relying on men, they have to have “weak mind”, because relying on men require them to submit themselves to men.
But women’s problems can be solved if they can simply ignore men (what I mean is, not relying on them) because they don’t generally have the “fear of inferiority” in their mind (because they are already deemed “inferior”. It is quite interesting how psychology works. Although I have to admit that there are women who are somewhat like men on this matter, then things can be more twisted.) This is probably why pretty much all cultures will try to shame and scare women to prevent them from ignoring men, because men cannot do so because their success (and life purpose) is often measured by their ability of getting women.
I just mentioned there are women who are somewhat like men in their mind, and they could be more “twisted”. But I don’t think their minds operate like men do. What I am talking about is there are some women that are quite determined to prove that they are better than other people (sometimes more specific towards women, or men). I think even among this kind of women, there is still no “fear of inferiority”. But lack of “self-love” or “rebel against men” could lead some women trying to provoke “desire” or “passion”, which will be called “seduction”.
It seems to me that when women are condemned if they “lost their virginity”, “seduction” is often used to describe men’s actions that could cause it. Now, it seems that it is mostly used to describe women if they have some “questionable motive”. I think in general, it is fair to say that society generally frown on women taking “decisive steps” (whatever they maybe) in relationship.
At least some of the things I just talked about can be viewed as have something to do with “Gone With the Wind”, especially Scarlett O’Hara. Now, I will just talk about her specifically. Well, maybe I should talk about her and Rhett Butler first. I just said that I think “Gone with the Wind” is a classic novel. Well, it depends on how we define “classic novel”. If we define “classic novel” as the kind of novels that crystalized some of the fundamental issues in life, then I think we can call it a “classic novel”. But “classic” is often referred to in comparison to “modern”. How we define them in this context? I have to say there are some ambiguities. I have talked about this subject before in my previous posts. But here, I will talk about this subject in this context (so there might be some differences from my previous thoughts). It seems to me that “classic” vs “modern” also can be viewed in the context of the attitude towards “selfishness”, where “classic era” is the time when people ought to “serve God”, hence making “sacrifices”, where “modern time” is the time when people want to be “free”.
In this context, “Communism” that emphasize “sacrifice” is the continuation of “religion” (as I think about it, the ultimate “vision” of “Communism” is basically a replica of “heaven” as well), and “Capitalism” that emphasize “individual freedom” would have to base on principles that “rebel against” “religion” (but in reality, the “capitalism” we are very much relying on “religion”. This alone is a good indication of how “messed up” the world is.)
The problem with “modern era” is, the hierarchical “power structure” is still intact no matter in what kind of “-isms”. In essence, society based on “Communism” is basically the continuation of hierarchical power structure based on political structure alone. “Capitalism” diverted (or diversified) the power structure, but did not ultimately change this power structure, although much of the control is less visible (so, it could be more deceptive.)
I think at least in some sense, Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, and even Ashley Wilkes and Melanie Hamilton Wilkes parallel with Emma and Mr. Knightley, and Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax, but with twists that are quite complex.
First, I mentioned that I think it is at least a deficiency that Jane Austen did not explicitly describe “passion” between Emma and Mr. Knightley. But she did not abandon “passion” altogether. But it does seem that she had some trouble reconcile “passion” with Reason. I think it is quite clear that Emma is a “passionate” person, but Mr. Knightley is not specifically viewed as such (now, as I think about the argument between Emma and Mr. Knightley could very well be the argument about “passion” as well). On the other hand, Frank Churchill does seem to be more “passionate” than Mr. Knightley (and Jane Fairfax), but the “love story” between Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax does seem to have more flaws, mostly because they had to “sacrifice” “honesty” for their “passion”, and Frank Churchill’s “love” for Jane Fairfax might seem to be based more on fantasy (he is taken by her beauty, and her somewhat “mysterious” personality, and his “passion” towards her could also be attributed to chivalry as well), and why Jane Fairfax loves Frank Churchill is not explained (perhaps because most would think it as “obvious”). Although it does seem to appear that they understand each other well (which I might write more about this point later), this point was not fully explored. My point is, “passion” is more emphasized in their relationship than Reason (at least one could consider at the expense of Reason as least in some degree). This is why I think it is a flaw in “Emma” that the role of “passion” (as related to Reason) in “love story” is not well explored by Jane Austen (at the moment, I cannot think of a story this matter is well explored.)
But the dynamics between Ashley Wilkes and Melanie Hamilton Wilkes is quite different. This probably reflects the culture difference between America and Europe. At least based on my impression, in British culture, “passion” is not particularly emphasized in “romantic ideals” in comparison with other European cultures. But now as I think about it, American culture maybe have more problems with the matter of “passion”. Melanie Hamilton Wilkes does seem to represent “ideal American women” (if there is such a thing. I think the problem is, the concept of “ideal American women” is quite ambiguous, probably no real consensus can be reached with certainty) plain, pale, quiet and giving, very motherly like (probably this type becomes the “ideal women” by default, as she basically is in shadowing existence, but would show strength when strength is need. I want to point out that there seems to be great understanding between Ashley Wilkes and Melanie Hamilton Wilkes). Interestingly, in “Gone with the Wind”, Ashley Wilkes and Melanie Hamilton Wilkes basically play the role of “idea love” (but only in shadowing existence).
At first glance, Scarlett O’Hara is basically the opposite of Melanie Hamilton Wilkes, but I don’t think I can quite say that. Actually, her role is quite ambiguous (as I think about it, she probably represents the “modern women” more than anyone else, and not just American women). In fact, Emma and Mr. Knightley, Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler seem to be the version of what we could be, and what people actually become. The tragic is, people “struggle” like Scarlett O’Hara for “survival”, and even abandoned their “ideal love”, and learned to “love” Rhett Butler, but it turned out that he does not really love them. This is the tragic of our time.
Rhett Butler is a very peculiar figure. The point is, he is carefully crafted that people feel that there is something wrong about him, but they could not point out what it is, and in the end, they somehow “learned to love” him. In essence, he represents the “idealized” essence of “capitalism”. I do think “Gone with the Wind” is somewhat harmful, because it basically presented “selfishness” in more favorable light than it should be (because although he often breaks rules to benefit himself, we cannot clearly identify the victims, unlike in real life), thus mislead us into accepting the “morals of capitalism”. Actually, I want to look this more closely. The situation with him is very unique. The backdrop of this story is, they are basically at the “wrong side”. So, this creates a “moral ambiguity” that is quite unique. On one hand, he “broke the rules” for his own “selfish reason” (making money). But on the other hand, in effects, he actually helped “the good cause”. How are we supposed to think about it? In this sense, it becomes part of the propaganda machine of “capitalism”. But in making judgement about “culture existence”, I am not a “purist” for practical reason, because as I said, the entire “culture existences” are very “messed up”. But I do want to identify things that I think are problems and point out them.
Rhett Butler is a likeable figure because how he “loves” (the same things happen here, or maybe in different ways. In this matter, he did hurt people, but it is “not his faults”.) I want to mention when I first think about whether a man and a woman can be “just friend”, the friendship between Rhett Butler and Melanie Hamilton Wilkes immediately came to my mind, and it is quite convincing. At least in some sense, Rhett Butler is “quite a gentleman” (except his relationship with Belle. Well, if we are being “realistic”, probably it is also a part of being “gentleman”). Now, as I think about it, the “capitalists” in many fictional works are probably more” gentleman like” and even more sympathetic than him (“The Golden Bowl”, “The Great Gatsby”, for example), so I would rather think of Rhett Butler more as the representative of “modern culture” than a “poster boy” for “capitalism”.
What Rhett Butler represents is “contradictory”, and so does Scarlett O’Hara. Since the subject of this post is “passion”, I will focus on it here. We were told that Rhett Butler loves Scarlett O’Hara. But what kind of “love” is it? It is quite complicated, and I am not quite sure that we can call it “love”. At least not “true love”. First of all, Rhett Butler respects Melanie Hamilton Wilkes, but I don’t think we can say the same about how he feels about Scarlett O’Hara. What kind of “love” is it if one cannot respect the person one “loves”? This is the dilemma with “love” in modern time.
The problems with “capitalist society” is, although in theory, the “success” of the individuals is based on “merit”, in reality, most of the “success stories” have a lot to do with “ruling breaking” (like in the case of Rhett Butler, but unlike Rhett Butler, not necessarily “supporting good cause”).
In the end, this is what religion is arguing now, and they seem to be winning (which results in some very twisted reality. In essence, we are bouncing between two sets of unreasonable rules, and are not giving any other real options. So, if one complains about rules that seem to be improvement of “default rules”, the “rules of God”, it can only go back to the “rules of God”, not to make improvement of the improvement. This is why I questioned whether we have ever had any “freedom” in the first place.) But it is not because religion is right, but because the world is too twisted (which religion is mostly responsible for), especially the “moral rules”. “Selfish” people know that they are wrong, because they inevitably despite people who are “selfish”, because they have been wronged by other people who are “selfish”. Granted there are truly “delusional” people who could not look at themselves clearly, but these people cannot really prosper (and the damages they can produce are somewhat limited in grand scale. They are mostly harmful in people family lives.)
I have talked about the “loss of love” in “modern era” before. In essence, this is the cause. By promoting “selfishness”, people are incapable of “love”, and become “unlovable”. But does it means that we are all hopeless? I don’t think so. I think what “attracted” Rhett Butler in Scarlett O’Hara is her “fighting spirit”, meaning she did not lose “hope”. But the moment she started to “love” Rhett Butler, then all hope is lost. The dynamic between Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara and Mr. Knightley and Emma is basically the opposite. In “Emma”, it is Emma who changed Mr. Knightley (letting him see the problems in the world, and making changes to the world. And, although Mr. Knightley’s proposal to Emma in the novel is not exactly full of “passion”, one can argue that his act itself is an indication of “passion”), and world would be better. But in “Gone with the Wind”, it is the world that changed Scarlett O’Hara, and all hope is lost.
The lesson is, “selfishness” is “wrong”, even though “love” should not require “sacrifice” either (nor would Reason). The big difference between “Gone with the Wind” and “Emma” is, “Emma” basically is about an “ideal world” (well, not exactly an “ideal world”, but a world much more friendly, at least to Emma and Mr. Knightley), but Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara do not live in that world. But who is responsible for it? If they are “selfish”(that they are) they will blame other people. But if they are truly honest (one important reason that they are still sympathetic figures despite their “selfishness” is they are pretty honest, at least in some ways), they would have to admit that their problems are themselves. They might be able to have anything in the world, but they cannot find “love”, because they cannot truly “love” someone who does not agree with them “in essence”, but who they are “in essence” are not “lovable”.
I want to go back and talk about Scarlett O’Hara a little more here. I think people will agree that society (at least the “conventional wisdom”) is quite suspicious about women with “strong wills”. Granted there are women who are deemed to be “bad women” either because they are lack of “self love” or because they are “rebelling against men” in some harmful ways. But Scarlett O’Hara is not exactly one of them, because she acted “due to necessity”. This story is quite unique because both Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara seem to be “living on the edge”. Their “morals” are at least somewhat questionable, but they don’t necessarily fit into the traditional “bad men” or “bad women” categories either. In other words, “Gone with the Wind” did seem to try to challenge the traditional “moral rules”, but I don’t think their ways are correct ones, although it is quite complicated in what they did wrong, especially in the case of Scarlett O’Hara.
There are different kinds of “seductions” (my definition of “seduction” here is, it is the type of actions that tries to provoke “desire” for reasons other than “love”). The kind of “seductions” that is most looked down on is “provocations” using pure physical attributes. I don’t disagree about this. This kind of actions disrespect both women and men, because it reduces women to pure sexual objects, and prey on men based on their “animal instinct” (actually, it probably should not even be called “animal instinct” because even animals select their mates based on certain criteria), and infringed on “free will”.
But I don’t think Scarlett O’Hara acts this way (or at least the primarily portion of her “techniques” are not in this category) because she plays with men’s mind more, and we can say her charm rests mostly on her personality. Although I probably can call myself a fan of Vivien Leigh when I was young (I remember I even read a book about her long time ago), I think casting her as Scarlett O’Hara probably missed the point that Margaret Mitchell was trying to make at least somewhat. In short, she (actually, both her and Olivia de Havilland) is too pretty for the role. I think it is worthy to emphasize that men do respond to “personality”, and probably it might be more responsible for “desire” and “passion” than “beauty”. As I am planning on finishing up this post, I am not going to do a full analysis here. In my opinion, there could be many reasons why men could be “attracted” to Scarlett O’Hara (the particular reasons could be quite complicated, and individuals could differ. “Attraction”, like “love” is difficult to predict, especially when people are more “sophisticated”), I could offer a few here. For example, being less “lady like” may set her apart from others, which could be refreshing. And, if we are saying men are more like “hunters”, then this type of “animal instinct” may lead them to “enjoy the chase” more if she is less predictable and dynamic. And, being “driven” and “wide eye” hopeful could also be quite attracted features as well.
My point is, using “beauty” to measure women might be accepted as the standard by “conventional wisdom”, but it does not necessarily apply to all men. And, the less that men is controlled by “fear” (thus care more about how others thinking of her, thus tends to navigate according to “conventional wisdom”), the more possible that they will not measure women based on it. Rhett Butler might be an example.
I spend quite sometimes talking about “Gone with the Wind” in this post because I think it is quite ambiguous whether there is “passion” in Rhett Butler’s feeling for Scarlett O’Hara (people might conclude that there is “passion” based on common definition, but here, I am talking about “passion” based on my definition). I think the common consensus is there is (or at least there was). But I am not too sure (according to the definition I provided). So, I want to look more closely here. First of all, is Rhett Butler attracted to Scarlett O’Hara? If he is, what kind of “attraction” is it? I think it is safe to say that if there is “attraction”, this “attraction” is based on facts (meaning he was attracted to her with fully knowledge of her). But if we go back to my previous post, is this “attraction” based on that she is “good on her own”, or “good for him”? It is not very clear. At least on surface, we can say neither, she is basically a contradictory to what a “virtuous woman” should be (at least she was presented to be so), and she is basically hostile to him (or at least she despised him most of the time).
As I said, it is quite complicated. Even if I think he is “attracted” to her, this kind of “attraction” is quite “unconventional” (I can find her “driven” and “hopeful” as “good on her own”, and the same traits could also lead to conclusion of “good for him”, but these reasons do not seem to be very obvious.) But interestingly, it might be easier for me to conclude that he “loves” her, because I can say that he identifies with her, and there is agreement in “essence”. More interestingly, it would easier to find “desire” from him for her. But this “desire” seems to have some dark side.
At the very least, it is possible that he treated her as a prey, and his “animal instinct” could have gotten him. I have said he did somewhat like a gentleman (but not quite), but his attitude towards her often are at least somewhat troublesome. And, especially in a few occasions, how he treated her could be quite disturbing.
Actually, society’s attitude towards this kind of behaviors could be quite disturbing (the attitude of Margaret Mitchell towards this matter is quite disturbing as well, because people could at least view this kind of behaviors as related to “passion”), and in general, the attitude of the society about this kind of behaviors are quite ambiguous and problematic. People are often being sold that “battles of the sexes” that result in sex often some kind of manifestation of “passion”. It is quite interesting that in my mind, I probably also are influenced by this attitude. But in real life, I never feel any kind of “curiosity” about this kind of behaviors, and cannot image the kind of “passion” that might be involved.
I think Rhett Butler’s feeling for Scarlett O’Hara may reflect the problem with himself. In the end, is the problem of the “idealist” vs. “realist”. It is possible that Rhett Butler is trying to reconcile his internal conflict by “loving” Scarlett O’Hara, or by the way he treated her? Maybe he felt he does not deserved “love”, so that the fact the she does not “love” him suits him better. But he does want “love”, and she is somewhat similar to him, this fit the element of “agreement in essence”. And, that fact that she “loves” Ashley Wilkes might also make her “better” (for she still held the “ideal” and inspired to be better), and met the “good on her own” standard. So, when Scarlett O’Hara eventually starts loving him, he could not love her anymore. The conflict cannot be solved, and “true love” is not possible for them.
As I said, “Gone with the Wind” is quite a peculiar story about “love” and “life”. Both Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara have gotten themselves into situations that people follow the basic principles of Love and Reason would not do. But they are both hailed as “winners”, or at least survivors, and Ashley Wilkes is basically served as “cautionary tale”.
The problem with Ashley Wilkes is, “doing nothing” should not be the choice of people who follow the basic principles of Love and Reason either. Maybe whatever the choices would not lead to “success”, but there could be some positive results that could prevent people from the feelings of disappear. The problem with many men is, even if they are not “driven” by “fear”, they are “driven” by the “desire” for success. Thus they could be less reliable when the “rules of the world” become very twisted. If there is a “role model” in “Gone with the Wind”, it is Melanie Hamilton Wilkes, who can still keep going doing what she could without losing her principles, even under difficult situations. But the problem is, one person can only do so much, and if the rules of world are too twisted, not losing principles could mean perish.
The complication of the story is Ashley Wilkes and Melanie Hamilton Wilkes’ “moral high ground” is based on ignorance of reality (much like the contradiction between “gothic love” and “rape”.) In other words, they are not “worse off” because they “play by the rules”, but because the rules (that are unreasonable) changed that they are not favored any more. So, at least in this sense, they are not exactly “cautionary tale” in order to lead people to be “selfish”.
I think “Gone with the Wind” is a good indication how “messed up” the world is, even in the question of what is right and what is wrong. It is time to re-think everything, to clear up the mess. To do so, we would need “passion”.
I want to go back and talk about Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax, in comparison to Ashley Wilkes and Melanie Hamilton Wilkes. I pick these two pairs to compare mostly because in both of them, the females are basically the “models of perfection”. But the difference is, there is “passion” between Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax, but there does not seem to be any between Ashley Wilkes and Melanie Hamilton Wilkes (the problem with Ashley Wilkes is, he “desires” Scarlet O’Hara, but “loves” Melanie Hamilton Wilkes. So, the “moral conflict” within him is not any better than Rhett Butler). As I said earlier, I think a flaw in the “love story” between Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax is, although there is “passion” in their relationship (the less problematic and strongest “passion” of the four relationships I talked about, based on the novels), the “passion” may not be entirely “factual based”. Although there are indications that their “love story” is “true love”, because it does seem that they understand each other well, and even identify with each other very much (I will not explain further here), it does seem that the “passion” is at least not completely based on “understanding”, but based on “devotion” that is invoked by her “beauty” and “being perfect” (something that still rely imagination, because she cannot really be “perfect”).
This might seem to be a minor problem, but it is not, if we are to accept this is the “model for passion”. I don’t insist that there is a particular formula for “passion”, and I don’t even suggest that it is not “true love” between Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax (the same cannot be said about Ashley Wilkes and Melanie Hamilton Wilkes, as “love” without “desire” is not “true love’), because I do think their “love story” has all the elements of “true love”.
What I am saying is, if we can only find “passion” in “perfect”, then we are bound to fail. From this example, we can see “passion” seems to be too closely related to “religion”, because only something that is imaged (such as “God”) can be “perfect” (only because we are told so. Actually, if one reads the Bible, we can see that “God” is far from “perfect”, actually quite horrible if one allows oneself to use one’s own judgment). Unless we can overcome this misconception, “true love” is not possible.
It is not coincident that there is no “desire” hence “passion” in Ashley Wilkes towards Melanie Hamilton Wilkes. I think it represents the problem with “western culture” at “modern time”. In fact, this is not something new. The “eastern culture” had already experienced it, and the consequence is quite depressing. It seems that “eastern culture” had long determined that the reality is too grim so people would rather live in “imagination”. But this means leave out “desire” to the “real world” that is “quite ugly”, and there cannot be any real “passion” and “love” to actually change the “real world”. This point is quite important because I think humans not only regulate their “sexual urge”, they also regulate their “desires”. By regulating, there must first be a standard. By making the assumption that only the “ultimate goodness” is worthy, but not based on “compatibly”, the standard becomes quite impossible. Hence people could abandon this attempt all together, hence in “eastern culture”, monogamy is less emphasized.
As I think about it, this problem is probably related to misunderstanding about “love”, or the “insecurity about love”, because people often think of “love” as something to gain, and are too afraid to “lose it” (so that to lose their “life purpose”). But if we treat “love” as a “two way street”, and not be too afraid of making mistakes (meaning not be obsessed about “eternal love”) then “passion” would not be as “mysterious” and “fearful” as it seems to be now.
For example, I cannot see why Mr. Knightley could not be very “passionate” about Emma, because it is quite obvious he came to understand she is the woman that is most “perfect” to him (even though he probably realized that the concept of “perfection” is probably meaningless.)
(This post has become extremely long because I want to make my point clear about “passion”. But it is simply impossible to write all I can think about “passion” (even the most important points) in one post, so, I will stop now. But please keep in mind, there are a lot to be said, and I might have missed many important points.)
December 23, 2018