Sunday, July 31, 2011

On love, choices, and having something larger than yourself to stand on

From Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace (starting page 107)

(Marathe speaking)...'You [Americans] do not seem to believe you may each choose what to die for. Love of a woman, the sexual, it bends back in on the self, makes you narrow. Maybe crazy. Choose with care. Love of your nation, your country and people, it enlarges the heart. Something bigger than the self.'...
'Choose with care. You are what you love, no? You are, completely and only, what you would die for without, as you say, the thinking twice. You, M. Hugh Steeply: you would die without thinking for what?"...
'This, is it not the choice of the most supreme importance? Who teaches your [American] children how to choose their temple? What to love enough not to think two times?...For this choice determines all else. No? All other of our you say free choices follow from this: what is the temple, thus, for [American's]? What is it, when you fear that you must protect them from themselves[?]...

(Steeply speaking)...'What if sometimes there is no choice about that to love? What if the temple comes to Mohammad? What if you just love? without deciding? You just do: you see her and in that instant are lost to sober account-keeping and cannot choose but to love?

(Marathe speaking)...Then in such a case your temple is self and sentiment. Then in such an instance you are a fanatic of desire, a slave to your individual subjective narrow self's sentiments, a citizen of nothing. You become a citizen of nothing. You are by yourself and alone, kneeling to yourself.
'In a case such as this you become the slave who believes he is free. The most pathetic of bondage. Not tragic. No songs. You believe you would die twice for another but in truth would die only for your alone self, its sentiment.'
'You in such a case have nothing. You stand on nothing. Nothing of ground or rock beneath your feet. You fall; you blow here and there. How does one say: "tragically, unvoluntarily, lost."'

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