One Dimension

Why the Glass is Half Full

One more line, one more line, one more line.

The present is only an instant, at best a fleeting series of instants, a delicate miracle like spun sugar, torn between the dead paper cone of the past and the sticky fingers of the future.

To what end is such a thought of any import?

To say that all is fair in love and war is to adopt a distinctly tragic account of things, that is, an account of reality as sheer contingency. The currency of such an expression today, at least as it pertains to love, is testament to a certain modern deficiency.

What does this mean? Implicit in the expression is the absence of politics. Insofar as politics is distinguished from war, a boundedness built from chaos, it is a realm where all is not fair, where the possibility of unfair is present. No thinking person says that all is fair in love and politics without some unthought sense of limitation placed on the "all." Politics in its essence is limitation, and, properly understood, so is love.

It is out of, and in reaction to the Christian contortion of love that we come to think otherwise. The boundless love of the expression above, love as war, is not so much a timeless observation as a modern fallacy. It is the crude wedding of a purified conception of transcendent transformative potential with an undifferentiated tangle of desires.

The success of something like The Game, and other such Machiavellian social manuals, is testament to just how pervasive this tepid conception has become, both in its acceptance and supposed rejection. In practice, in the present, the conception of love as limitless possibility can only lead to profound disappointment.

The modern lover must strive to leap in two directions at once, harnessing the exuberant energy of present desire in the conquest of past and future. This exhausting effort to contort time, to pit oneself against the grinding down of existence, leads to an experience of defeat that, while salutary for the emaciated martyr, can only come to the modern as utter despair.

The past and future come to us as dreams, and dreams know no limitation. I have dreamt countless times of the convincing ability to fly, knowing it only as an impossibility upon waking. Dreams are not governed by the same rules of waking life, they admit none of the imperfections of actual existence.

I, living in the present, cannot compete with dreams. I cannot fly in the face of the past and future allied. I have nothing to offer but shoddy crumbling wares. This is not, however, a resignation to tragedy, for the recognition of love as limit is not a concession to fate.

It is given in a proper understanding of the erotic that it allows us to experience something outside of time. This is experientially indistinguishable from the sense of a prolonged present, a losing track. The passage of such instants into memories, their transmutation into stories, is no cause for sorrow insofar as the images we hold of them encapsulate something true.

This is why the expression has it all, or at least partially wrong. It is precisely because all is not fair, because love is not an experience of radical possibility, that it is of any human worth at all. The players on the field pursue one of two outcomes, haunted by the memory of past defeat and victory, doomed to endless seasons on the bench.

Those who love in the present, do so only by virtue by what is before them, and in so doing, love the present itself.