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Each stage of the relationship is illuminated with startling clarity, as de Botton explores emotions often felt but rarely understood. With the verve of a novelist and the insight of a philosopher, Alain de Botton uncovers the mysteries of the human heart. Alain de Botton is the. cover image of Essays In Love Essays In Love. by Alain de Botton. ebook and so begins a love story - from first kiss to first argument, elation to heartbreak, . Alain de Botton Essays in love 1 Romantic Fatalism 1. The longing for a destiny is nowhere stronger than in our romantic life. All too often, forced to share a bed.


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To be loved by someone is to realize how much they share the same needs that lie at the heart of our own attraction to them. Albert Camus suggested that we fall in love with people because, from the outside, they look so whole, physically whole and emotionally 'together' when subjectively, we feel dispersed and confused. We would not love if there were no lack within us, but we are offended by the discovery of a similar lack in the other.

Expecting to find the answer, we find only the duplicate of our own problem. A long, gloomy tradition in Western thought argues that love is in its essence an unreciprocated, Marxist emotion and that desire can only thrive on the impossibility of mutuality.

Little Essays of Love and Virtue by Havelock Ellis

According to this view, love is simply a direction, not a place, and burns itself out with the attainment of its goal, the possession in bed or otherwise of the loved one. The whole of troubadour poetry of twelfth- century Provence was based on coital delay, the poet repeating his plaints to a woman who repeatedly declined a desperate gentleman's offers.

Centuries later, Montaigne declared that, 'In love, there is nothing but a frantic desire for what flees from us' an idea echoed by Anatole France's maxim that, 'It is not customary to love what one has.

It is the one most suited to intensifying passion. There was a danger that Chloe and I would trap ourselves in just such a Marxist spiral. But a happier resolution emerged. I returned home from the breakfast guilty, shamefaced, apologetic, and ready to do anything to win Chloe back.

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It wasn't easy. She hung up on me at first, then asked me whether I made a point of behaving like a 'small-time suburban punk' with women I had slept with. Happy endings for now at least. There is usually a Marxist moment in every relationship, the moment when it becomes clear that love is reciprocated. The way it is resolved depends on the balance between self-love and self-hatred. If self-hatred gains the upper hand, then the one who has received love will declare that the beloved on some excuse or other is not good enough for them not good enough by virtue of associating with no- goods.

But if self-love gains the upper hand, both partners may accept that seeing their love reciprocated is not proof of how low the beloved is, but of how lovable they have themselves turned out to be.

Long before we've had a chance to become truly familiar with our loved one, we may be filled with the curious sense that we know them already. It can seem as though we've met them somewhere before, in a previous life, perhaps, or in our dreams. In Plato's Symposium, Aristophanes accounts for this feeling of familiarity by claiming that the loved one was our long-lost 'other half to whose body our own had originally been joined. In the beginning, all human beings were hermaphrodites with double backs and flanks, four hands and four legs and two faces turned in opposite directions on the same head.

These hermaphrodites were so powerful and their pride so overweening that Zeus was forced to cut them in two, into a male and female half and from that day, every man and woman has yearned nostalgically but confusedly to rejoin the part from which he or she was severed.

Chloe and I spent Christmas apart, but when we returned to London in the new year, we began spending all our time in each other's company. We led the typical romance of late-twentieth-century urban life, sandwiched between office hours and animated by such minor external events as walks in the park, strolls through bookshops, and meals in restaurants. We found agreement on so many different issues, we hated and loved so many of the same things, that, after only a short time, it seemed churlish to deny that, despite an absence of clear separation marks, we must once have been two parts of the same body.

It was congruence that made life with Chloe so attractive. Theorists of love have tended to be rightly suspicious of fusion, their scepticism stemming from the sense that it is easier to impute similarity than investigate difference. We base our fall into love upon insufficient material, and supplement our ignorance with desire. But, these theorists point out, time will show us that the skin separating our bodies is not just a physical boundary, but is representative of a deeper, psychological watershed we would be foolish to try and cross.

Therefore, in the mature account of love, we should never fall at first glance. We should reserve our leap until we have completed a clear-eyed investigation of the depths and nature of the waters.

Only after we have undertaken a thorough exchange of opinions on parenting, politics, art, science, and appropriate snacks for the kitchen should two people ever decide they are ready to love each other. In the mature account of love, it is only when we truly know our partners that love deserves the chance to grow.

And yet in the perverse reality of love love that is born precisely before we know increased knowledge may be as much a hurdle as an inducement for it may bring Utopia into dangerous conflict with reality. It was perhaps a pedantic matter over which to come to such a decision, but shoes are supreme symbols of aesthetic, and hence by extension psychological, compatibility. Certain areas and coverings of the body say more about a person than others: What was wrong with Chloe's shoes?

Objectively speaking, nothing but when did one ever fall in love objectively? She had bought them one Saturday morning in a shop on the King's Road, ready for a party we had been invited to that evening.

I understood the blend of high- and low-heeled shoe that the designer had tried to fuse, the platformed sole rising sharply up to a heel with the breadth of a flat shoe but the height of a stiletto. Then there was the high, faintly rococo collar, decorated with a bow and stars, and framed by a piece of chunky ribbon.

The shoes were the apogee of fashion, they were well made, they were imaginative, and I detested them. Then again, they're so amazing, maybe I should just wrap them back up, leave them in their box, and never use them. They've got such great things there. You should have seen the boots they had. My mouth went dry. I felt a strange throbbing movement at the back of my neck. I couldn't conceive how Chloe had lost her heart to a deeply compromised piece of footwear.

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My idea of who she was, my Aristophanic certainty of her identity, had never included this sort of enthusiasm. Hurt and disturbed by the unexpected turn in our relationship, I asked myself, 'How could a woman who walks into my life in sensible flat black shoes favoured by schoolgirls and nuns and claims to love and understand me be drawn to such shoes?

It promptly seemed easier to love Chloe without knowing her. In one of his prose poems, Baudelaire describes how a man spends a day walking around Paris with a woman he feels ready to fall in love with.

They agree on so many things that by evening, he is convinced he has found a companion with whose soul his own may unite. The eyes of these poor on-lookers are full of wonder at the display of wealth and beauty inside, and their expression fills the narrator with pity and shame at his privileged position. He turns to look at his loved one in the hope of seeing his embarrassment and emotion reflected in her eyes. But the woman with whose soul his own was prepared to unite has a different agenda.

She snaps that these wretches with their wide, gaping eyes are unbearable to her, she wonders what on earth they want and asks him to tell the owner to have them moved on straightaway. Does not every love story have these moments? A search for eyes that will reflect one's thoughts and that ends up with a tragicomic divergence - be it over the class struggle or a pair of shoes. Perhaps the easiest people to fall in love with are those about whom we know nothing.

Romances are never as pure as those we imagine during long train journeys, as we secretly contemplate a beautiful person who is gazing out of the window a perfect love story interrupted only when the beloved looks back into the carriage and starts up a dull conversation about the excessive price of the on-board sandwiches with a neighbour or blows her nose aggressively into a handkerchief. The dismay that greater acquaintance with the beloved can bring is comparable to composing a symphony in one's head and then hearing it played in a concert hall by a full orchestra.

Though we are impressed to find so many of our ideas confirmed in performance, we cannot help but notice details that are not quite as we had intended them to be. Is one of the violinists not a little off key? Is the flute not a little late coming in? Is the percussion not a little loud? People we love at first sight are as free from conflicting tastes in shoes or literature as the unrehearsed symphony is free from off-key violins or late flutes.

But as soon as the fantasy is played out, the angelic beings who floated through consciousness reveal themselves as material beings, laden with their own mental and physical history. Chloe's shoes were only one of a number of false notes that came to light in the early period of the relationship. Threatening differences did not collect at the major points nationality, gender, class, occupation , but rather at small junctures of taste and opinion.

Why did Chloe insist on leaving the pasta to boil for a fatal extra few minutes? Why was I so attached to my current pair of glasses? Why did she have to do her gym exercises in the bedroom every morning? Why did I always need eight hours' sleep? Why did she not have more time for opera? Why did I not have more time for Joni Mitchell? Why did she hate seafood so much? How could one explain my resistance to flowers and gardening?

Or hers to trips on water? How come she liked to keep her options open about God 'at least till the first cancer' But why was I so closed on the matter? Anthropologists tell us that the group always comes before the individual, that to understand the latter one must pass through the former, be it nation, tribe, clan, or family.

Chloe had no great fondness for her family, but when her parents invited us to spend Sunday with them at their home near Marlborough, in a spirit of scientific enquiry I urged her to take up the offer.

Everything about Gnarled Oak Cottage was a sign that Chloe had been born in one world, one galaxy almost, and I another. The living room was decorated in faux-Chippendale furniture, the carpet was a stained reddish brown, dusty bookcases with volumes of Trollope and Stubbsesque paintings lined the walls, three salival dogs were running in and out between the living room and the garden, and corpulent cobwebbed plants sagged in every corner.

Chloe's mother wore a thick purple pullover with holes in it, a flowery baggy skirt, and long grey hair scraped back without design. One half expected to find bits of straw on her, an aura of rural nonchalance reinforced by her repeated forgettings of my name and her creative approach to finding me another.

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I thought of the difference between Chloe's mother and my own, the contrasting introductions to the world that these two women had performed. However much Chloe had run away from all of this, to the big city, to her own values and friends, the family still represented a genetic and historical tradition to which she was indebted.

I noticed a crossover between the generations: It was all so strange and new. The house in which she had grown up evoked a whole past on which I had missed out, and which I would have to take on board in order to understand her. The meal was largely spent on a question- answer volley between Chloe and her parents on various aspects of family folklore: Had the insurance paid for Granny's hospital bills?

Was the water tank mended? Had Carolyn heard from the estate agency yet? Was it true Lucy was going to study in the States? Had anyone read Aunt Sarah's novel? Was Henry really going to marry Jemima? All these characters who had entered Chloe's life long before I had - and might, with the tenacity of everything familial, still be there when I was gone. It was intriguing to see how different the parents' perception of Chloe could be from my own. Whereas I had known her to be both accommodating and generous, at home she was known to be bossy and demanding.

As a child she had been thought of as a miniature autocrat whom the parents had nicknamed Miss Pompadosso after the heroine of a children's book. Whereas I had known Chloe to be levelheaded about money and her career, the father remarked that his daughter 'did not understand the first thing about how things work in the real world', while the mother joked about her 'bullying all her boyfriends into submission'.

I was forced to add to my understanding of Chloe a whole section that had unfolded prior to my arrival, my vision of her colliding with that imposed by the initial family narrative. In the afternoon, Chloe showed me around the house. She took me into the room at the top of the stairs into which she'd been afraid to go as a child, because her uncle had once told her a ghost lived inside the piano. We looked into her old bedroom that her mother now used as a studio, and she pointed out a hatch that she had used to get into the attic in order to escape with her elephant Guppy whenever she'd been miserable.

We took a walk in the garden, past a still- bruised tree at the bottom of a slope into which the family car had ploughed when she had once dared her brother to release the handbrake. He had since died, added Chloe with curious indifference, 'in an incident with a corn-thresher'.

Later in the afternoon, I took a walk in the garden with her father, a donnish man to whom thirty years of marriage had imparted some distinctive views on the subject. I'm no expert on love, but I'll tell you something. In the end, I've found that it doesn't really matter who you marry. If you like them at the beginning, you probably won't like them at the end. And if you start off hating them, there's always the chance you'll end up thinking they're all right. On the train back to London that evening, I felt exhausted, weary at all the differences between Chloe's early world and mine.

While the stories and settings of her past had enchanted me, they had also proved terrifying and bizarre, all these years and habits before I had known her, but that were as much a part of who she was as the shape of her nose or the colour of her eyes.

I felt a primitive nostalgia for familiar surroundings, recognizing the disruption that every relationship entails a whole new person to learn about, to suggest myself to, to acclimatize myself to.

It was perhaps a moment of fear at the thought of all the differences I would find in Chloe, all the times she would be one thing, and I another, when our world views would be incapable of alignment. Staring out of the window at the Wiltshire countryside, I had a lost child's longing for someone I could already wholly understand, the eccentricities of whose house, parents, and history I had already tamed.

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If I can return for a moment to Chloe's shoes, it might be worth mentioning that their inauguration did not end with my negative yet privately formulated analysis of their virtues. The sheer melodramatic intensity of the event aside, the matter sustains philosophical interest because it symbolizes a choice as radical in the personal sphere as in the political: The choice has often been missed in an optimistic equation of the two terms, with the former considered a handmaiden of the latter.

But if the terms have been linked, it is always in an implausible marriage, for it seems impossible to talk of love and letting live, and if we are left to live, we are not usually loved.

We may well ask why the viciousness witnessed between lovers would not be tolerated anywhere outside conditions of open enmity. Then, to build bridges between shoes and nations, we may ask why countries that have no language of community or citizenship usually leave their members isolated but unmolested and yet why countries that talk most of love, kinship, and brotherhood routinely end up slaughtering great swathes of their populations.

Or you might suddenly decide you hated them. I do hate them. Someone has to let you know the truth. And Leslie would definitely like them. And I can't imagine Abigail having a problem with them either. So what's wrong with you? Not in the proper way. Not in the way that means you have to break bad news to someone even if it pains you terribly. The reader can be spared the full melodrama, it suffices to say that moments later, the tempest that had been brewing reached a climax, Chloe took off one of the offensive shoes, supposedly so as to let me look at it, but more realistically, to murder me with it, I chose to duck the incoming projectile, it crashed through the window behind me and fell down to the street, where it impaled itself in the rubbish area in the remains of a neighbour's chicken madras.

Our argument was peppered with the paradoxes of love and liberalism. What did it really matter what Chloe's shoes were like? There were so many other wonderful sides to her, was it not spoiling the game to arrest my gaze on this detail? Why could I not have politely lied to her as I might have done to a friend? My only excuse lay in the claim that I loved her, that she was my ideal save for the shoes and that I therefore had to point out this blemish, something I would never have done with a friend whose departures from my ideal would have been too numerous to begin with, a friendship in which the concept of an ideal would never even have entered into my thinking.

Because I loved her, I told her therein lay my sole defence. In our more expansive moments, we imagine romantic love to be akin to Christian love, an uncritical, expansive emotion that declares I will love you for everything that you are, a love that has no conditions, that draws no boundaries, that adores every last shoe, that is the embodiment of acceptance.

But the arguments that hound lovers are a reminder that Christian love is not prone to survive a move into the bedroom. Its message seems more suited to the universal than the particular, to the love of all men for all women, to the love of two neighbours who will not hear each other snoring.

Though it was not always a matter for glaziers, illiberalism was never one sided. There were a thousand things about me that drove Chloe to distraction: Why was I so bored by the theatre? Why did I insist on wearing a coat that looked a century old? Why did I always knock the duvet off the bed in my sleep?

Why did I think Saul Bellow was such a great writer? Why had I not yet learnt how to park a car without leaving most of the wheel on the pavement? Why did I constantly put my feet on the pillows? These were the ingredients of the domestic gulag, the daily attempts to tug each other closer to our ideals.

And what excuse was there for this? Nothing but the old line that parents and politicians will use before taking out their scalpels: I care about you, therefore I will upset you, I have honoured you with a vision of how you should be, therefore I will hurt you. Chloe and I would never have been as brutal to our friends as we were to one another. But we equated intimacy with a form of ownership and licence. We may have been kind, yet we were no longer polite.

When we started arguing one night about the films of Eric Rohmer she hated them, I loved them , we forgot there was a chance Rohmer's films could be both good and bad depending on who was watching them.

She degenerated into calling me 'a stuffy over-intellectual turd', I reciprocated by judging her 'a degenerate product of modern capitalism' proving her accusation in the process.

Politics seems an incongruous field to link to love, but can we not read, in the bloodstained histories of the French, Fascist, or Communist revolutions, something of the same coercive structure, the same impatience with diverging views fuelled by passionate ideals?

Amorous politics begins its infamous history with the French Revolution, when it was first proposed with all the choice of a rape that the state would not just govern but also love its citizens, who would respond likewise or face the guillotine. The beginning of revolutions is psychologically strikingly akin to that of certain relationships: But if the beginnings of love and amorous politics are equally rosy, then the ends are often equally bloody.

We're familiar with political love that ends in tyranny, where a ruler's firm conviction that he has the true interests of his nation at heart ends up lending him the confidence to murder without qualms and 'for their own good' all who disagree with him.

Romantic lovers are similarly inclined to vent their frustration on dissenters and heretics. A few days after the shoe incident, I went to the newsagent to pick up a paper and a carton of milk. Mr Paul told me he'd just run out of the semi-skimmed variety, but that if I could wait a moment, he'd get another crate in from the storeroom. Watching him walk out towards the back of the shop, I noticed that Mr Paul was wearing a pair of thick grey socks and brown leather sandals.

Why could I not remain similarly composed in the face of Chloe's shoes? Why could I not enjoy the same cordiality with the woman I loved as with the newsagent who sold me my daily rations? The wish to replace the butcher-butchered relationship with a newsagent-customer one has long dominated political thinking. Why could rulers not act politely towards their citizens, tolerating sandals, dissent, and divergence?

The answer from liberal thinkers is that cordiality can arise only once rulers give up talk of governing for the love of their citizens, and concentrate instead on ensuring sensible, minimal governance. Liberal politics finds its greatest apologist in John Stuart Mill, who in published a classic defence of loveless liberalism, On Liberty, a ringing plea that citizens should be left alone by governments, however well meaning they were, and not be told how to lead their personal lives, what gods to worship or books to read.

Mill argued that though kingdoms and tyrannies felt themselves entitled to hold 'a deep interest in the whole bodily and mental discipline of every one of its citizens', the modern state should as far as possible stand back and let people govern themselves. Like a harassed partner in a relationship who begs simply to be given space, Mill ventured: The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good, in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized society against his will is to prevent harm to others.

His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant. The wisdom of Mill's thesis is such that one might want to see it applied to relationships as much as to governments. However, on reflection, applied to the former, it seems to lose much of its appeal. It evokes certain marriages, where love has evaporated long ago, where couples sleep in separate bedrooms, exchanging the occasional word when they meet in the kitchen before work, where both partners have long ago given up hope of mutual understanding, settling instead for a tepid friendship based on controlled misunderstanding, politeness while they get through the evening's shepherd's pie, 3 a.

We seem to be thrown back on a choice between love and liberalism. The sandals of the newsagent didn't annoy me because I didn't care for him, I wished to get my paper and milk and leave. I didn't wish to cry on his shoulder or bare my soul, so his footwear remained unobtrusive. But had I fallen in love with Mr Paul, could I really have continued to face his sandals with equanimity, or would there not have come a point when out of love I would have cleared my throat and suggested an alternative?

If my relationship with Chloe never reached the levels of the Terror, it was perhaps because she and I were able to temper the choice between love and liberalism with an ingredient that too few relationships and even fewer amorous politicians Lenin, Pol Pot, Robespierre have ever possessed, an ingredient that might just were there enough of it to go around save both states and couples from intolerance: It seems significant that revolutionaries share with lovers a tendency towards terrifying earnestness.

It is as hard to imagine cracking a joke with Stalin as with Young Werther. Both of them seem desperately, though differently, intense. With the inability to laugh comes an inability to acknowledge the contradictions inherent in every society and relationship, the multiplicity and clash of desires, the need to accept that one's partner will never learn how to park a car, or wash out a bath or give up a taste for Joni Mitchell - but that one cares for them rather a lot nevertheless.

If Chloe and I overcame certain of our differences, it was because we had the will to make jokes of the impasses we found in each other's characters. I could not stop hating Chloe's shoes, she continued to like them I was sent down to pick the left one up and give it a clean , but we at least found room to turn the incident into a joke. By threatening to 'defenestrate' ourselves whenever arguments became heated, we were always sure to draw a laugh and neutralize a frustration.

My driving techniques could not be improved, but they earned me the name 'Alain Prost'; Chloe's attempts at martyrdom I found wearing, but less so when I could respond to them by calling her 'Joan of Arc'. Humour meant there was no need for a direct confrontation; we could glide over an irrirant, winking at it obliquely, making a criticism without needing to spell it out.

Humour lined the walls of irritation between our ideals and the reality: Does beauty give birth to love or does love give birth to beauty? Did I love Chloe because she was beautiful or was she beautiful because I loved her? Surrounded by an infinite number of people, we may ask staring at our lover while they talk on the phone or lie opposite us in the bath why our desire has chosen to settle on this particular face, this particular mouth or nose or ear, why this curve of the neck or dimple in the cheek has come to answer so precisely to our criterion of perfection?

Every one of our lovers offers different solutions to the problem of beauty, and yet succeeds in redefining our notions of attractiveness in a way that is as original and as idiosyncratic as the landscape of their face. If Marsilio Ficino defined love as 'the desire for beauty', in what ways did Chloe fulfil this desire? To listen to Chloe, in no way whatever. No amount of reassurance could persuade her that she was anything but loathsome.

She insisted on finding her nose too small, her mouth too wide, her chin uninteresting, her ears too round, her eyes not green enough, her hair not wavy enough, her breasts too small, her feet too large, her hands too wide, and her wrists too narrow. She would gaze longingly at the faces in the pages of Elle and Vogue and declare that the concept of a just God was in the light of her physical appearance simply an incoherence.

Chloe believed that beauty could be measured according to an objective standard, one she had simply failed to reach. Without acknowledging it as such, she was resolutely attached to a Platonic concept of beauty, an aesthetic she shared with the world's fashion magazines and which fuelled a daily sense of self-loathing in front of the mirror.

According to Plato and the editor of Vogue, there exists such a thing as an ideal form of beauty, made up of a balanced relation between parts, and which earthly bodies will approximate to a greater or a lesser degree. There is a mathematical basis for beauty, Plato suggested, so that the face on the front cover of a magazine is necessarily rather than coincidentally pleasing.

Whatever mathematical errors there were in her face, Chloe found the rest of her body even more unbalanced. Whereas I loved to watch soapy water running over her stomach and legs in the shower, whenever she looked at herself in the mirror she would invariably declare that something was 'lopsided' though quite what I never discovered.

Leon Battista Alberti might have known better, for he believed that any beautiful body had fixed proportions which he spelt out mathematically after dividing the body of a beautiful Italian girl into six hundred units, then working out the distances from section to section.

Summing up his results in his book On Sculpture, Alberti defined beauty as 'a Harmony of all the Parts, in whatsoever Subject it appears, fitted together with such proportion and connection, that nothing could be added, diminished or altered, but for the worse'. But according to Chloe, however, almost anything about her body could have been added, diminished, or altered without spoiling anything that nature had not already devastated.

Clearly Plato and Leon Battista Alberti had neglected something in their aesthetic theories, for I found Chloe excessively beautiful. Did I like her green eyes, her dark hair, her full mouth? I hesitate to try and pin down her appeal. Discussions of physical beauty have some of the futility of debates between art historians attempting to justify the relative merits of different artists.

A Van Gogh or a Gauguin? One might try to redescribe the work in language 'the lyrical intelligence of Gauguin's South Sea skies The language of the eye stubbornly resists translation into the language of words. It was not beauty that I could hope to describe, only my personal response to Chloe's appearance. I could simply point out where my desire had happened to settle, while allowing the possibility that others would locate comparable perfection in quite other beings.

In so doing, I was forced to reject the Platonic idea of an objective criterion of beauty, siding instead with Kant's view, as expressed in his Critique of Judgement, that aesthetic judgements are ones 'whose determining ground can be none other than subjective'. The loving way that I gazed at Chloe functioned like a pair of outward arrows, which give an ordinary line a semblance of length it might not objectively deserve. A definition of beauty that more accurately summed up my feelings for Chloe was delivered by Stendhal.

I did not see the gap between her two front teeth [see figure] as an offensive deviation from an ideal arrangement, but as an original and most love-worthy redefinition of dental perfection. I was not simply indifferent to the gap in between the teeth: I positively adored it. I took pride in finding Chloe more beautiful than a Platonist would have done.

The most interesting faces generally oscillate between charm and crookedness. There is a tyranny about perfection, a certain tedium even, something that asserts itself with all the dogmatism of a scientific formula.

The more tempting kind of beauty has only a few angles from which it may be seen, and then not in all lights and at all times. As Proust once said, classically beautiful women should be left to men without imagination. My imagination enjoyed playing in the space between Chloe's teeth. Her beauty was fractured enough that it could support creative rearrangements. In its ambiguity, her face could have been compared to Wittgenstein's duck-rabbit, where both a duck and a rabbit seem contained in the same image.

Much depends on the attitude of the viewer: What counts is the predisposition of the viewer. It was of course love that was generously predisposing me.

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The editor of Vogue might have had difficulty including photos of Chloe in an issue, but this was only a confirmation of the uniqueness that I had managed to find in my girlfriend. I had animated her face with her soul. The danger with the kind of beauty that does not look like a Greek statue is that its precariousness places much emphasis on the viewer.

Once the imagination decides to remove itself from the gap in the teeth, is it not time for a good orthodontist?

Once we locate beauty in the eye of the beholder, what will happen when the beholder looks elsewhere? But perhaps that was all part of Chloe's appeal. A subjective theory of beauty makes the observer wonderfully indispensable. In the middle of May, Chloe celebrated her twenty-fourth birthday. But in the course of preparing a card, I suddenly realized that I had never told Chloe that I loved her.

A declaration would perhaps not have been unexpected, yet the fact that it had never been made was significant. Pullovers may be a sign of love between a man and a woman, but we had yet to translate our feelings into language. It was as though the core of our relationship, configured around the word love, was somehow unmentionable, either too evident or too significant to be uttered.

It was simple to understand why Chloe had never said anything. She was suspicious of words. I remembered her telling me that, when she was twelve, her parents had sent her on a camping holiday.

There she had fallen in love with a boy her age, and after much blushing and hesitation, they had ended up taking a walk around a lake. By a shaded bank, the boy had asked her to sit down, and after a moment, had taken her damp hand in his. It was the first time a boy had held her hand.

She had been so elated, she had felt free to tell him, with all the earnestness of a twelve-year-old, that he was 'the best thing that had ever happened to her'.

The next day, she discovered that her words had spread all over the camp. A group of girls chanted mockingly 'the best thing that ever happened to me' when she came into the dining hall, her honest declaration replayed in a mockery of her vulnerability.

She had experienced a betrayal at the hands of language, the way intimate words may be converted to a common currency, and had since hidden behind a veil of practicality and irony. With her customary resistance to the rose-tinted, Chloe would therefore probably have shrugged off a declaration with a joke, not because she did not want to hear, but because any formulation would have seemed dangerously close both to complete clich and total nakedness.

It was not that Chloe was unsentimental, she was just too discreet with her emotions to speak about them in the worn, social language of the romantic. Though her feelings may have been directed towards me, in a curious sense, they were not for me to know.

My pen was still hesitating over the card a giraffe was blowing out candles on a heart-shaped cake.

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I tried to imagine what she would make of the words I might hand her, I pictured her thinking about them on the way to work or in the bath, pleased but reluctant even to savour her own satisfaction. Yet the difficulty of a declaration of love opens up quasi-philosophical concerns about language. If I told Chloe that I had a stomach ache or a garden full of daffodils, I could count on her to understand.

Naturally, my image of a be-daffodiled garden might slightly differ from hers, but there would be reasonable parity between the two images. Words would operate as reliable messengers of meaning. But the card I was now trying to write had no such guarantees attached to it. Great list of free ebook sites — ClassicReader. Hi Book Lover, thanks for the info. I used to study in Australia, great universities they have there.

Great list, add 2 site for free ebook http: You can download over 2, ebooks pdf, epub, kindle good quality public domain books here: Thanks for the list! They are hands down the best free ebook site out there. They have thousands of ebooks. Happy Reading all. Also they have audio books for the blind as well. And many of the free sites are not getting updated.

I am sorry for not including your site into our list, it appears to me your site is full of pirated eBooks. The last time I checked, Harry Potter is still a copyrighted book and was not made available for free by the publisher. This is really a huge list of the great websites for ebooks, thanks for sharing those resources for ebook download and subscriptions. This informative post is helpful indeed. Keep up the great work. With Regards!

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