October 16th, 2002

Brian and Anne

(no subject)

Steven Silver returned to me by mail the notebook that I had taken with me on the california trip and then left in Chicago. While we were staying at Bill's Aunt's house in Fallbrook I read most of The Four Loves, by C.S. Lewis. Most of the book is about aspects of love - love of god, affection, generous love, selfish love, etc. It is a sometimes rambling exploration of possible thoughts on that theme. I took notes on a few sections that caught my eye. Now that I have the notebook I can share them.

This is actually the intro to a section that was of interest to me, on the importance of appropriately intimate courtesy (and not formal, fake, manners) within intimate situations and relationships. The intro itself is mildly interesting.


p. 66
We hear a great deal about the rudeness of the rising generation. I am an oldster myself, and might be expected to take the oldster's side, but in fact I have been far more impressed by the bad manners of parents to children than by those of children to parents. Who has not been the embarrassed guest at family meals where the father or mother treated their grown-up offspring with an incivility which, offered to any other young people, would simply have terminated the acquaintance? Dogmatic assertions on matters which the children understand and their elders don't, ruthless interruptions, flat contradictions, ridicule of things the young take seriously - sometimes of their religion - insulting references to their friends, all provide an easy answer to the question "Why are they always out? Why do they like every house better than their own home?" Who does not prefer civility to barbarism?


(Copyright 1960 by Helen Joy Lewis; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, San Diego, New York, London - A Harvest/ HBJ Book)
Brian and Anne

(no subject)

Further notes from The Four Loves, by C.S. Lewis (from the chapter on Affection, re: formal and informal courtesy

p. 67
If you asked any of these insufferable people - they are not all parents of course - why they behaved that way at home, they would reply, "Oh, hang it all, one comes home to relax. A chap can't be always on his best behavior. If a man can't be himself in his own house, where can he? Of course we don't want Company Manners here at home. We're a happy family. We can say anything to one another here. No one minds. We all understand."

Once again it is so nearly true yet so fatally wrong. Affection is an affair of old clothes, and ease, of the ungaurded moment, of liberties which would be ill-bred if we took them with strangers. But old clothes are one thing; to wear the same shirt until it stank would be another. There are proper clothes for for a garden party; but the clothes for home must be proper too, in their own different way. Similarly there is a distinction between public and domestic courtesy.

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Brian and Anne

(no subject)

"Affection at its best can say whatever Affection at its best wishes to say ... the better the Affection the more unerringly it knows which these are (every love has its art of love)."

(from the afore-quoted section of Lewis' The Four Loves)

It seems to me that this section is getting into the sense of the water brotherly affection in Stranger in a Strange Land - the ideal that a water brother can ask any other water brother for anything, and the request will be honored, because ( in part), the request will never be unreasonable, when the nature of the relationship is truly understood and the level of Affection is at its purest.

In actuallity, to master the art of love to the point where you will never say something that inadvertently wounds is like a Platonic Ideal - unreachable. If we were telepathic... maybe. And I find in my relationship with Bill that I have to watch out for the mental path of "If he loved me enough he would know me well enough not to have said that in that way at this time." -- our knowledge of one another will get better over time, and we are both aiming for this kind of knowledge, but (especially since we as people change over time) our knowledge of one another will never be complete. And in many ways, it continues to be the things about Bill that surprise me that delight me the most, and things that he does delight me that even I (who presumably know myself well) could not have suggested he do.