Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Sense and Sensibility

Emotion itself has its own history, provenance and chronology. Sensibility is a changeable matter. Romantic love meant something different to the troubadours than it does to the modern soul which is often in flight, performing an almost platonic longing after an ideal which doesn't exist. Unreality has an unfair advantage over “the real thing” since it satiates the always insatiable lust for possibility. The unknown quantity contains a mystery that appeals to the imagination. So-called free will is the villain that undermines the ability to focus on the here and now. Somewhere between feudalism and the advent of the free-market economy, custom and prescription were replaced by the culture of choice and self-invention, but human existence is like a ruler whose ever smaller gradations become reflected even within shorter spaces of time. Would the female characters described in the novels of Edna O’Brien be recognizable to the cast of Sally Rooney’s Normal People which deals with the complexion of love and in particular lovemaking amongst Irish millennials. Even with the world Rooney describes there are disparities which are a source of conflict. In one scene Rooney’s central character Marianne's description of her enjoyment of rough sex alienates her from her former boyfriend Connell who reacts with incomprehension to the inclinations of someone he thought he’d known. Imagine a panel composed of famous fictional characters  from Middlemarch, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, from The Great Gatsby, Rabbit Run to the The Human Stain. Surely none of these creations would agree when it came to describing what they found appealing or attractive in another person.

Read "What is Happiness?" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

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