Friday 12 December 2008

Love Is The Devil

For Crashie and anyone else for whom matters of the heart hit close.

I saw a film once, many years ago, which moved me profoundly. A true story.
The name of the film says it all. Though perhaps, it didn't really hit home to me straight away.
But many times I find myself reminded of it and I find myself thinking 'Love IS the devil'.
Sometimes it is.

The film is one you should definitely see. It concerns the homosexual relationship of the painter Francis Bacon and his working class bit of rough, George Dyer. Two great actors in the lead roles, Derek Jacobi as Bacon, Daniel Craig as Dyer.
The affair begins when Dyer, a small time criminal is caught by Bacon in the process of burgling his flat. Bacon offers him the deal 'Come to bed and you can take anything you want'.
And the film shows where this goes.

For Bacon, Dyer fulfills several functions. Bacon is a flamboyant, flaunting, promiscuous homosexual in an era when homosexuality was illegal still. So his public displays and candid love of, as he puts it 'finding his pleasure with men fucking', can also be seen as a kind of rejection of social constraints of the time. It is about sex, but it isn't. In the circles he moves in, homosexuality fulfills much the same role as the appearance of lines of white powder does on coffee tables at parties today; it is a statement of rejection of the repressive constraints of 'respectable' society and a cry of unashamed libertinism.
He drags Dyer around his social functions, but almost treats him as a dog. He patronises, ridicules him, only in the bedroom do the roles reverse when Bacon adopts the submissive role.

It is difficult sometimes, to like Bacon as portrayed in this film, but that of course, is to miss the point.

Eventually, it gets too much for Dyer. Because there is one thing that Dyer can never shake. To be sure, he has accepted his role as Bacon's lover, a role totally at odds with the mores of his background, but the values ingrained with in him he cannot ever truly lose. He cannot ever quite see things as Bacon does.
And towards the end we see that gap.
Bacon is increasingly neglecting Dyer, as a series of exhibitions leave Dyer confined to hotel rooms, as Bacon does not want him along where others might see him. A tearful Dyer sobs 'I love you Francis'.

Bacon contemptuously replies 'George! Where did you get that from? 'Orf the tellervision?''
And it is in that answer, the real difference shows. Bacon is an artist. He studies human emotions to bring them out in canvass. Dyer to him, is an entertainment. He doesn't see Dyer in simple terms the way Dyer does. It is easy to see Bacon's response as callous- and it is- but to do so, again, is to miss the point.

In Dyer's world, love has a simple meaning. It isn't something complex, it isn't something that is deconstructed, people love eachother, or they don't. True, in his world, the one he grew up in, men didn't love men, but loving and being together was what people did.
It isn't in Bacon's world. Things are more complex. To Bacon, a statement such as 'I love you', is simplistic, it is an overused phrase that people use because their minds cannot grasp anything more complex than that, it cannot in fact truly express the multiplicity of differing emotions grouped together in that term. To Bacon- and when I first saw the film, I wasn't old enough to appreciate this point- saying 'I love you' is a melodramatic cop out from actually assessing the true situation.

Because the situation to Bacon is he's an artist. His art is important. Dyer is part of his art. Dyer stimulates his art, and in return Bacon gives Dyer a world of culture. The two provide company for eachother and satisfy sexual needs in the other. The word love is an inadequate expression of the situation.

It's interesting that the older I've got, the more sympathy I've had for Bacon. The ending of the film- Dyer's suicide- makes it hard to do so, it's only life experience makes you realise WHY the film is called 'Love is the Devil'.

Because if the film was meant to be about Bacon being a bastard, it would have been called 'Bacon was a Bastard'. It isn't.
It's about the horrifyingly destructive power love can have.

Why it can be tragic.

The problem is, too many of us are fed as children on happy ever after love stories. We come into adulthood believing it to be that simple.
That 'love' is always a force for good. Only it isn't.

Human beings are just too varied for it to be that simple.

I suppose you really have to be confronted with it, and till you are, it doesn't make sense.
It didn't click home to me till I found myself in a situation with someone of the opposite sex, for whom it really was simple, as simple as George Dyer wanted it to be. For her it was 'If I love you and you love me, that's all that matters, we should be together'.
But of course, that wasn't the right answer. Because the word love is too simple a word, a unites a lot of disparate feelings. And as she was saying all the cliches 'Love is beautiful', 'I'll care for you', etc, etc, the phrase running through my mind over and over again was; 'Love is the Devil'. And in this case, it clearly was. To her, the simple fact she felt such a powerful feeling was proof that it should be 'worked on'. To me, it was clear proof that BOTH parties should make a deliberate effort to suppress all emotions and kill all sentiment. Because for me, having people near me having such strong passions, is something I don't want.
That the reality was, it was a destructive situation that could only end in someone getting hurt. And trying to convey to her that the reason that a total- and potentially hard- severance was the right answer, and was the logical answer, was hard.
Because to her, the logic of the situation didn't impact. To her, if people love eachother, they should be together. The fact that ultimately, this might lead to the misery of both parties, didn't make sense to her.

Because the variety of feelings people get from love, and what they want from it, are entirely different things.
Quite often people think they're in love, but in fact, the problem is in the use of a single blanket word to describe a complexity of different emotions.

What is often meant is that two people may be inspiring strong feelings in eachother, but ultimately, those feelings are actually completely different.
And this is when 'Love is the Devil'.

I guess I've often been seen as a heartbreaker in my time. But it's not really because I've been a bastard. It's just that the strong feeling I use the word 'Love' to cover, is a totally different strong feeling to the strong feeling it has inspired in others.

For some, it's about sex. For me, in many ways, there is a fairly total divide between sex and love. The two can connect: they're not mutually exclusive, but nor is there any necessary connection between the two. I am more than capable of having sex with someone and not loving them, just as I am of loving someone and actually not really wanting to have sex with them.
For me, it's pretty much about the stimulation. The mental stimulation.

In other words, you're either exciting my mind- or you're not. When I say I love someone, what I mean is I find that the time I spend in their company is valuable, partly for its own sake, but more crucially, because it's inspirational.

These sentiments aren't clear cut. Sometimes the love one person has to give, is poison to another, and vice versa.

And you have to be on the receiving end of a love that really is poison to you, to realise that.
Oxygen is a toxin to many forms of bacteria...

You have to be there to understand it, to hear the genuine passion in someone's voice and still feel that shiver run through your bones, that realisation that their love for you, is dangerous to you. That to some it might not be, but for you, for you it would be, for you it is the path to misery. To realise that through their very feelings for you, all your deepest darkest fears could come true.

There is nothing in the world more terrifying than knowing you are powerless to simply remove someone from your life.

How do you tell someone, it's not that you don't care for them, it's not love you reject, it's THEIR love. Because there's no way you can make their love for you anything other than a poison to you, their love is the greatest possible threat to your happiness there is, that your life truly will be happier when they are able to suppress their feelings, take them away, and bestow them on someone else.

It is the Devil, because there it is, the finest temptation, because there it is, it deludes you, it says 'I am love, I am the finest sentiment of all'. Because it blinds. People will destroy those they love, through loving them in a way that is fatal to them. You can love someone to death.

Sometimes, it is not beautiful. Sometimes it is a dark, destructive force, that ultimately tends towards evil, an acid that destroys all that is good in the people involved.

Love isn't enough in itself, that is the problem. It isn't. The Beatles, wise though they were, were wrong there. Sometimes it isn't. Sometimes in itself, it is worth nothing, and sometimes less than that.

Love is worth nothing if it has no self awareness, if it cannot objectify itself, sometimes even sacrifice itself TO itself. Perhaps we can see Christ as an allegory there yet again. That sometimes walking away from all hope of love, is the only way we truly understand love.
Because otherwise, Love truly IS the Devil.


Anonymous said...

I definitely understand certain types of love being a poison. I was faced with it a while ago. It's a kind of obsession, and the desire to possess that scares me. The person who loves you sometimes feels as though you owe something to them, because they love you so much. They can't understand that you love them for different reasons, and the things they expect from you are things that you're not willing to give, ever.

Anonymous said...

Melodramatic much? This post is kind of a convoluted way to clear your conscience for not reciprocating someone's love for you and your subsequent (negative?) behavior towards her.

I do understand bring the focus of someone's obsession, which I wouldn't really categorize as being loved. I haven't seen the movie you mentioned, though it sounds like something I'd enjoy. It doesn't sound like Backn held Dyer in any real sort of love from what you described. A treasured possession, perhaps, but that ain't love. I think you are expressing sympathy for the devil. Not that there is a problem with that. But call a spade a spade, and don't try to make all poetic Bacon's behavior because it suits your purposes.

Like the post yesterday suggested, when the parties in a relationship are at cross purposes, they need to cut loose the ties and find a mutually satisfactory union. Unless making someone miserable is your bag of tea. And some people like to be made miserable. And maybe they could call that love too if it us what they both want.

Anonymous said...

Another reason why I would not give my body to somebody for sex without love...because I get emotionally vested. It is the worst feeling in the world to feel used, after giving of yourself.

Anonymous said...

Akai- Yes, it's scary. Love doesn't have to be, but it is.
In this case, yes, she did feel I owed her, but what actually scared me was her desire to force her way into all my relationships with other people- relationships she had no place in and never would have.

Where it became scary was when I realised she actually wanted to supplant two people who would always, in some ways, be more important to me than a lover would be, though in different ways, obviously.

Vicarious Rising- Not entirely. Ok, to be blunt, the instance refered to was someone who I didn't NOT have feelings for as such, but that their way of expressing THEIR feelings ulimately began to threaten other things, it was starting to intrude into the life I have with those close to me. If I hadn't got her out of my life, it would have affected one of the most important things IN my life, my friendship with my best mate.

So yes, Love was the devil. Her feelings could have created distance between me and those close to me.

No, I don't think her feelings were love, either, I would say it WAS obsession. People who GENUINELY love other people don't behave the way she did. They show more understanding.

You probably would enjoy it yes. Jacobi is geat as Bacon.

I guess probably, I can relate to Bacon, because yes, I probably am a bit like him, in some ways, being honest. I think I have a tendancy to love people when they interest me and just drop them when they bore me. The trick is 'Don't be boring' :)

Yes, I think that's the point, once you realise it's not going to work, you just have to call it a day and move on. I don't know why people find that such a problem. There's no point in persisting with something that makes you miserable. These things are supposed to be fun, after all.

No, I just want someone I can lie in bed with and chat philosophy with. Go out to art galleries and ghistorical homes. Who understands that I have other things in life to worry about and doesn't demand my attention all the time. And enjoys a bit of free living :)

Kate- It happens to us blokes too you know...

I can switch my emotions off quite easily. What's more I actually have a protective mechanism that seemas to automatically kick in at certain points. If I feel a situation is emotionally demanding, everything seems to switch off, just stops.

It's as if I have steel shutters which come racing down if I feel someone's getting too close.

She doesn't know this, I've not really known quite how to say this...

You're aware I met Haydee once?
We went to an Art gallery and had a meal.
All the way going to meet her, I was nervous. My mate rang me on the way, partly I think because he knew I'd be all over the shop. And I was. Because I knew I was head over heels about her, but how would I hold it together with her actually in front of me? What would happen?

Anyway, she actually recognised me first, believe it or not. Apparently my description of myself; short, slender, little elf, curly hair was pretty accurate :)

Anyway, what surprised me was how at ease I was. In fact it didn't feel like we'd never met. It felt perfectly natural. Even her voice sounded EXACTLY the way I'd imagined it. And her mannerisms exactly what I'd expected.

But whilst she was in the toilets at the gallery, I was doing my hair in the mirror and it occurred to me, I didn't have the butterflies in my stomach I'd had on the way down.
And this bothered me. That in fact, I now seemed to just be interacting with her the same way I would any other girl. I actually couldn't FEEL the huge strength of feeling for her that had built up over the previous year.

And I wondered if it had dissapated.

And we walked all round the gallery and most of the time, I simply commented on the paintings, went on about what the artists were trying to say (Much of it was rennaiscance, my favorite period).

But running through my mind was 'Do you love her? Now she's in front of you? Did you just imagine it? Was it all a delusion?'

When we were having dinner, I was trying to work it out. And I decided to risk saying the three words. Not to see their effect on her, I knew it would piss her off, but to see what effect it had on me.

And it was funny. I didn't feel embarrassed. I couldn't work out if I meant it, but it didn't feel like I DIDN'T, if that makes sense.

Anyway, when I finally had to go, I remember turning and running back to give her a peck on the cheek. I don't think she was expecting that.

And get this- as soon as I was on my way back, I felt it all flooding back into me. I loved her twice as much as I ever did.

It's just like some switch shut it all off whilst I was near her, like some kind of internal protection system.
And by the time I got home, I missed her like crazy.

Does any of that make sense?

Anonymous said...

Do you sit up and monitor the blog all night long just waiting to delete comments? All of us in other time zones still see them.

I can't understand why you still reference a situation that obviously causes drama. Do you like the drama? You are throwing fuel on the fire, you acted like a prick, but who cares. Move on.

I don't know why anyone would be worried about you trying to corrupt women. From the few months I've been here, It doesn't look like the success rate would be high.

Anonymous said...

We trade in each other's egos, don't we ?

A runner wins a race and saps the egos of the other competitors. I'm sure that if a meter could be applied that the net gain in euphoria by the winner would equal the net loss of ego of all the other runners.

I've dedicated a post to you, Ingsoc.

Anonymous said...

My ex was exactly like that! He wanted to become my sole best friend, and to replace the large group of friends I had, the thought of which was terrifying >< Whenever he thought I spent too much time with my friends, he fell into a passive-aggressive fit of rage >_>

Didn't Ubermouth have a blog before? I swear I came across it once... it had something to do with being a bitch... and a tombstone... but wither way, what's boosting the ratings, so to speak, is the interesting posts that make you think... not whatever (or whoever) he's done. for me at least.

Anonymous said...

EK, Crushed, I suppose you think the answer is never to try and win or lose? Let's just all accept our fate and live our lives in bland misery?

Better to have loved and lost...

Anonymous said...

La Femme- It's difficult to know what to do. I don't want to impose comments moderation, because I like to have free flow. But certain people's comments here aren't welcone. I have complained to the police, but it seems there's little they can do.

I think you have to appreciate the situation concerned was highly traumatic for me. I had seen enough evidence to know I wanted to press the eject button, but trying to explain that, was impossible. It is still a nightmare to me, even now. I don't think the other party understood that. I think sometimes I try to appeal to their better nature, to try at least get them to understand how some of the things they did to me were highly traumatic. Things that I never thought could happen in my worst nightmares. I wasn't able to just ignore her till she went away, she'd kep demanding answers. And I'd keep explaining to her; ultimately you keep attempting to involve yourself in other relationships of mine, particularly people who you should never come into contact with and who should never be aware of your existence, and others who will only be introduced to you, to give their stamp of approval, and if they don't give it, that's it.

Ultimately, she was indulging in behaviour likely to create distance between me and my best mate. She was attempting to supplant people who would always be more important than her and gain access to others- such as family members, who I don't even allow my friends to speak to. The fact that she succeeded in getting to one family member, means that I no longer feel comfortable visiting that family member, because I feel her to be 'polluted'. I do visit, but only on the understanding we avoid almost all conversation now. That was my closest relative as well.
Imagine that happened to you.

E-K- Interesting thought...

I guess, yes, we're all egotists at heart :)

I'll be oveer to check in a bit.

Akai- That was her main problem with her, yes. She wanted to take over every friendship I had and intervene. So that every friend I had knew of her existence and had been told (by her) that she was more important to me.
Well, thing is, she wasn't. It felt like she was deliberataely trying to create a world where she was the sole thin I had in it, well I'd never want to live in such a world.

I actually have mails from her wherev she SERIOUSLY suggests that i should be more concerned about her than my best mate of twelve years. Crazy stuff.
Ultimately me and my best swore to eachother ages back, we'd never let a woman come between us. Where's he's concerned, yes, he comes before anyone, no matter who they are.
She'd actually ring me on Friday nights and I'd say 'Why are you calling? You know I'm with xxxxx?'
Because in my world, it's just not the way its done.

Yes, she just wanted too much of my time generally. A couple of hours a week was all I had, realistically.

I actually do think the whole thing HAS made me think.

Primarily, the main lesson I learned was NEVER get into anything unless you have your exit strategy planned, never lose sight of that exit strategy and make sure you're in control of the situation. Don't be naively trusting. And always ensure that huge barriers prevent them for getting to your friends and family.

If you're ever in a situation where finishing with them is more complex than simply changing your mobile number, you failed to protect yourself properly.

I learned that.

Blue Eyes- Of course :)

And Blue eyes, some would say I have loves and lost. I'm madly in l;ove with a woman who doesn't love me.
But I don't see it as losing, because she's still one of my bestest friends in the world and I love her to bits :)

If you're adult about these things, they're not an all or nothing game.

They don't need to be.

I often wonder why people don't accept things the way I do. I have the woman I love in my life as a friend, and I'm content with that. Better than NOT having her at all. And in a way, better than having her more than I do- because what would I do with her if I DID have more of her? Well, actually I guess I DO want more of her, but it's still nice the way it is.
The only time I've actually been able to have these sorts of feelings and not end up in a state over it.

Anonymous said...

I think really, as a general comment, one of these reasons I find it easy for me to carry on in love with the woman I am in love with, is the total lack of stress.

She advises me on my love life (Quite refreshing to get love advice from the woman you love) and my finances, things I wouldn't let anyone normally do, certainly not someone in an RL relationship.

She doesn't impact on my real life in a negative way. My family don't know she exists and never will. My employers don't know she exists. Only one of my friends knows the full situation, though another knows I 'chat to a bird on the internet'. It stays my guilty little secret, which is how I want it to be. This is crucial to my well being, really.

We all need someone to love, and having found her is in many ways one of the best things to have ever happened to me. Pretty much all those sentiments that I have go into her. But she doesn't do anything with those sentiments, she just- keeps them safe.
It's like I'm giving her my need to love someone, and she looks after it for me so I'm able to avoid emotional involvement elsewhere.

And that is something truly, truly amazing.
She keeps me safe.