Thursday, 4 February 2016

David Levithan (i.e. the man who makes me question all. and cry)

The Lover's Dictionary made me think and feel a lot of the things all at the same time to the point that it was overwhelming. And that has never happened to me with a piece of text before, or any art for that matter.

211 pages of dictionary-style entries documenting such an intense combination of intimate and commonplace events and thoughts and questions throughout the course of a romantic relationship between our speaker and his partner, whom he addresses the entries to. This book had me underlining and pausing and wincing and I'm immensely surprised by that because things don't usually move me like that. I appreciate the artistry or the creativity or the thought processes promoted but to actually taste the bitterness and feel unsettled and to physically gasp at something so brief and concise.

It made me fear things; things like myself, things like the potential and the weight one puts into the ideas of trust and forever. It made me fear the things I saw myself in within the characters, things one may not view as insecurities, and maybe they aren't, but they are deeply rooted in things that are in a sense still tethering you to something you can shed. It showed just how significantly immense of a thing trust was. It is absolutely ridiculous to put down all your weapons, in fact even without the metaphor, but the willingness and the feeling of safety sleeping next to somebody else. That in itself is ridiculous; one day we were strangers and now I don't think twice about being unconscious a reach away from them. The fear is absolutely stunning and I suppose that's what makes these notions so immense.

It also made me see myself from the outside looking in (and I say made because it felt forceful. A good forceful. A holding up a mirror to your face kind of forceful) and at times, almost justified, or maybe just put into words what I struggle to explain:

“Even when I detach, I care. You can be separate from a thing and still care about it. If I wanted to detach completely, I would move my body away. I would stop the conversation mid-sentence. I would leave the bed. Instead, I hover over it for a second. I glance off in another direction. But I always glance back at you.”
"I want to sequester this one part of me from everyone else. I want the act to be a secret, even if the words can only hold themselves secret for so long."  

It made me think a lot about making decisions; how we make some so fast, "we don't let all the synapses connect before we do the thing we shouldn't do" and we hold on to things. We have this tendency to grip so hard onto things, even when we adamantly deny it, and we know that if we had the power, we would make those things happen. Even if they weren't ready to.

Most of all, I guess it scared me of human nature. To great extents. Or maybe that's enthralment. But we are such inherently possessive creatures. We want to know that if we want something, we would be able to get it and once we do have something, it has to stay. But then again there is a spectrum for feeling all of these things and I think what fuelled me the most with this book is the fact that both characters were stubborn, in their own ways, but both very ebullient in terms of their feelings and perhaps that dynamic felt closest to home for me because I'm basically a human firecracker.

"Just be warned," you said. "Someday you'll ask me to give up something I really love, and then it's going to get ugly."

Everything is incredibly fragile and this book highlighted that in the fact that it used such little words and very small distinctions, a little misinterpretation, a little connective, a variation of a tense can bring up such contrasting thoughts and conversations and emotions.

I think the quest of understanding is essentially the legacy we leave behind because with all our complexities and complications, intricacies and simplicities, everybody is trying to understand everybody in order to be able to communicate and co-exist and everybody is also trying to understand themselves and what they feel and how they feel it and why they feel it. And when we think we understand us we want other people to understand us and we want them to understand us right and oftentimes we want them to like what they're getting.

I think this book just made me surrender a little to the feeling of desperation because a.) it's inevitable and fighting it can make you so bitter and so bottled up and the way that it made me feel so full last night after finishing it to the point that I just did not understand what the fuck was wrong with me is a sign of that. And b.) it's okay to feel and do and think certain things and they could be sharp and harsh and scalding but we move on from that and being able to hold that mirror up to what you did yourself possesses immense strength and vulnerability.

It just helped cement that that particular dissonance is okay, we just learn to live with it and we realize it's not always an oxymoron.

"What did it matter to me? Did I think that by making you rational about one thing, I could make you rational about everything?"

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