Saturday 28 March 2009

Romantic Love- Fulfillment or The Last Temptation

My most successful post of all time, undoubtedly seems to be the post I did recently on the Romance between Grisson and Sara.

It seems to have gone down well on several CSI related forums I was not previously aware of the existence of.

One person who read it suggested it touched a nerve because it was heartfelt. I guess, yes, Grissom is a character I relate to, he has some qualities I myself have. Although we aren't similar in a lot of ways, I guess I share his objective, emotional detachment.

And I guess Sara Sidle is perhaps the closest TV has ever come to encapsulating the sort of woman I could actually fall in love with. The last time it came so close was Dana Scully.

But before I return to Grissom and Sara, it's perhaps worth looking at some of the literary and historical leitmotifs that affect my thinking on the subject and also some real life parallels.

I think I may have mentioned before, I specialised at degree level and Epic Romance, specifically the Arthurian legend, but I have always been very much into classical romances.

And one which has always had a profound impact upon my is that of Aeneas as it relates to Dido, Queen of Carthage.

I guess most people are familiar with the legend at a rudimentary level. Aeneas is carried to Carthage by a storm. Here the Queen, Dido, falls in love with him and they have a Romance. Then he is reminded that it his duty to fulfill the prophecies and set sell for Latium to be the ancestor of the Roman people. And so off he departs in the dead of night, abandoning Dido.

Who promptly self immolates herself. Aeneas as he sails off can see the smoke of her funeral pyre.

Most of the girls in our seminar group at uni found this tale to show Aeneas in a bad light. Indeed, it raises the question of why this tale appeared in the legend at all. It hardly seems to present Aeneas favourably. A man who sets sail watching a woman who loves him set fire to herself and die.

Interestingly, we should bear in mind that Aeneas is the son of Aphrodite. His own mother is the godess of love.

Of course, it was relevant to the Romans. To them it was the origin of their struggles with the Carthaginians. The founder of Rome had slighted the founder of Carthage. But more significantly, the unwritten subtext that the love of the founder of Carthage was unworthy of a man whose destiny it was to found Rome.

There is a sense in which it is exactly this, the fact that Aeneas sails off watching her burn that makes him a worthy founder of the stoic Roman race. That he can rise above the most potent of all human temptations, potent because it seems so pure, that of romantic love.

She dies out of love for him, and he has no pity. Because if he did, the greater good, the foundation of Rome would not come to pass. She is, to him, a sacrifice. If she has to burn so that Rome might be, so be it.

Aeneas has a choice. If he stays, his life is wasted. If he goes, she burns and her death will be on his conscience. The only question is, which can he live with?
So perhaps this is actually the most important bit of the story as a whole. It demonstrates why Aeneas is a worthy founder for Rome. Neither choice can be taken with a clear conscience. But he takes the choice that shows him a higher man.

The question always raises itself whether Christ made a similar choice. I think he did. I think the love of Mary Magdalene was on offer, perhaps there had at some point even been something between them. That, indeed, was his Last Temptation.

He could have lived happily with her and raised a family, never been crucified. But he did not take that route.

I have often said before that the Catholic Church never forbade its priests from sex, just from marriage.
If one really wants to understand what they meant it was the sex isn't the problem. Just don't go falling in love too deeply. It will sidetrack you.
You will end up wasting your life.

If you fall too deeply into someone else, you may never get out.

It is almost as if, reading through the entirity of human literature, the entirity of human drama, even watching TV and film drama, even looking at one's own life experience, one sees the same dark and brutal bit of wisdom shining out.

Falling in love is beautiful. Loving and being loved is the purest sensation that can happen to a human being.
Which is what makes it such a dangerous temptation. Because you will give your life to it.

When people are in love, nothing else matters. They- fulfill eachother. But in essence it is that very fulfillment that is the danger.
Because one devotes everything to it. And one has so little left to devote to anything else.

I suppose for me the Grissom and Sara romance was partly about me confronting my fears. And partly a bit about me and indulging myself.
Love at that level is something I fear, I do, no two ways about it.

The idea of having blind faith in anything or anyone is not something I trust. I purposely avoided 'romantic' relationships with people I could become too hooked on. People I can never become so addicted to they can affect my normal decision making processes.
Nor do I want that level of intensity in my life. Romance is fine when kept on the hobby side of the equation, but I always worry when it starts to like like it's having an effect on things I deem to be important.

There are people out there who are happy to be with someone just for the sake of it. I'm not one of those, not in that way. I firmly believe my life is better off being single. Relationships to me count as friends who have sex; they are generally judged as no more than that. Someone in a 'relationship' with me means no more or no less than any other friend and I strive hard to keep it that way.

That doesn't mean I'm not susceptible to it. I'm susceptible to a lot of things which I know if I don't keep in moderation are bad for me. I just try control these things to preserve myself.

And yes, I guess there is a curious zone. See, I'd want to find and fall in love with someone like Sara. And yet I try not to want it. Watching Grissom and Sara allowed me to feel all the positive sensations something like that would make you feel. And yet feel safe, because it isn't you.

And partly, I guess, it was about confronting fears. That maybe it wouldn't ruin your life to allow someone in like he allows Sara in.

Being in a situation like Grissom is, with a woman like Sara is, is the deepest fear of my life. Really. My deepest, darkest fear.
And I'm not sure how I'd see it if it came along.

Fulfillment or The Last Temptation?


Anonymous said...

This was a very honest post, Crushed.

Of course, I am an eternal optimist... I see your future full of love.


Judith said...

Why must love be dsl all or nothing to you? If you live someone and they love you in return, you are supporting each other's dreams and goals, not inhibiting them. I don't believe that Grissom and Sidle gave up who they are or what they were meant to accomplish for the sake of their relationship. In fact, Sara took off because she could no longer tolerate the world she was working in, even for the sake of the man she loved. As for Grissom, I think they made a point of saying he had long before lost his passion for the job.

That Dido chick, she was an idiot. What woman sets herself on fire for a guy? Lame. If she doesn't have an existence of her own outside their coupledom, I suppose she might as well self-combust. That's not love - it's obsession.

People without attachments don't make good leaders. They're expendable. That's why they're the suicide bombers and risk takers. They don't have a good sense of the human experience in their strange detached bubble. His many world leaders have been single? And please don't bring up Christ because he wasn't quite a leader. It wasn't until after his death that his followers took off and began to run with his teachings. But he didn't really lead.

My point being, love isn't about being swallowed whole by emotions and forgetting who you are. It is about helping you be the best you can be because the other person believes in you. You find that and you can accomplish anything.

Moggs Tigerpaw said...

Maybe Aeneas could have had both Rome and Dido if he had been smarter.

But maybe from the evidence Dido was a bit of a high maintenance Emo? Who wants to get tied up that way?