Can you write two pages about Solomon?

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timer Asked: Oct 20th, 2018
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Hello there,

Could you please reed the file below from page 73 to 88 and write two pages about it ?

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Page 73 If love is a matter of ideas, then wrong or inappropriate ideas will distort or undermine both our theories about love and our experience of love itself. The belief that love appears out of nowhere, for example, leads us to wait instead of look for love, to expect that love will “happen’’ to us when in fact it is a readiness that must be conscientiously adopted. The belief that love guarantees happiness similarly leads to that overconfidence and inattention that lets love grow indifferent and even sour. The idea that love will last forever makes us overly self-critical and quite confused when love ends. The idea that love is always good allows us to rationalize some truly horrendous relationships, while the idea that love is an illusion leads us to dismiss some quite workable romances that might just turn out to be magnificent. The fact that love is a cultural construction means that most of us—as natives of that culture—should get it right. We have been spoon-fed since birth with romantic stories, images, movies, novels and gossip, indeed so much so that we mistake what we have been so thoroughly “taught” as strictly “natural” and universal. (The erotic misadventures of those who have been raised in other cultures are amusing, accordingly; what is harder for us to appreciate is that our attitudes when exported are no less amusing and ludicrous.) But much of what we have learned about love belongs to the past rather than the present, and entrenched beliefs about love may be more appropriate to an age going through the breakup of feudalism or the first experiments with the nuclear family than to the late twentieth century, with its tremendous mobility and flexibility, its breakdown of traditional social roles and responsibilities, its problems of overpopulation, its near perfection of birth control, its enormous urban centers with their hustle and anonymity, its unprecedented ambition and greed, its consequent chaos. What will always remain is the necessity to continue procreation in some form and to establish intimate ties of some sort, but from these minimal de- Page 74 mands one is not entitled to infer the necessity of romantic love, or even heterosexual intercourse, or the need for families—much less the nuclear family, which is an experiment less than two hundred years old and may be declared a failure by the next century. History moves quickly, and though our ideas about love are embedded in our culture, our culture has changed and is changing so dramatically that we must be particularly critical of those ideas and fantasies about love which no longer have meaning for us now. Our ideas about love are a blend of religion, biology and sociology, coupled with a thousand themes from movies and romantic novels (invented in the eighteenth century to encourage domesticity among young women). The old image of romantic heroism is a hangover from the days of chivalry, when a lover had reason to be good with a sword and possess a solid set of armor. It is hardly appropriate today, when social success is more likely to involve a good sense of the stock market and a business suit. There have been attempts to save and update the idea of the hero in modern times, in Montaigne’s quaint bourgeois notion of the “hero of everyday life” and, much more recently, in the extreme notion of the anti-hero, the “bad boy” rendered charming, the Belmondo/Burt Reynolds set. But the virtues of modern society are rarely heroic; they have more to do with such bland moral merits as being a “good person” and having integrity, sensitivity and sympathy. And the sad truth is, there are just not enough heroes to go around, which is why movies must provide them for the millions. So, too, the idea of the woman in the passive-receptive role of “beloved,’’ an advance over her role as economic chattel in medieval times and a necessity given her social and physical vulnerability in a violent age, no longer applies in this society of increasingly equal opportunities and sporadic violence against which a male “protector” would be of little avail. From medieval marriage we inherit the asymmetry of our traditional marriage vows, now often replaced by young couples Page 75 with original ceremonies. The oath of “obedience” is no longer acceptable in love or marriage and the vow “for richer or for poorer” is no longer taken seriously. A spouse who abandons a marriage in hard times may be criticized for “using” the marriage or lacking consideration, but not for the violation of a sacred obligation. Early church attitudes toward sex have been the source of rebellion since the days of the Gnostics, and much of the history of Christianity —as well as the history of love—has been defined by changing attitudes toward the acceptability of sex and sexual enjoyment. No longer is love considered sinful for its sexuality, and the residual rejection of the importance of sex in love is more often a symptom of neurosis than a sign of spirituality. The troubadours considered themselves good Christians when they tried to synthesize even adulterous sex with such Christian virtues as fidelity, and part of Martin Luther’s rebellion against the Church was his attempt to sanctify sex in marriage. Edmond Leites has recently argued persuasively that the Puritan rebels opposing the established Church of England practiced a sexually passionate form of marriage—quite the contrary of our current notion of “puritanism.” In general, the emphasis has turned from sex and sexual enjoyment as a Sin (especially for women) to sex as a right. Indeed, whatever else the “sexual revolution’’ established, it set once and for all the acceptability of sexuality even within the most conservative confines of Christianity (Ehrenreich et al., Re-Making Love). Before we can proceed to understand exactly what love is, it will be necessary to say something about what love is not, and about the illusions that make love so easily misunderstood. I want to deal with six general misconceptions—by no means an exhaustive list—that systematically distort our theories and our practice of love. Some of them are part of our inheritance, from centuries of thinking about and experimenting with love. Some have their origins more in fantasy than in actual practice, but, Page 76 in retrospect, it is not always possible for us to clearly see the difference. Some are more recent, the product of modern psychology. All of them are sufficiently damaging to require special attention in our attempt to reinvent love as an emotion appropriate for life today. The six misconceptions are: 1. that love is a feeling; 2. that understanding love is the same as understanding the dynamics of a relationship; 3. that love is good in itself and “all you need is love”; 4. that love is or should be like our love stories: “once upon a time . . . happily ever after”; 5. that love is essentially bound up with the beautiful; 6. that love is for the young. IS LOVE A FEELING? It’s not at all unusual for love to remain for a lifetime. It’s passion that doesn’t last. —T O M R O B B I N S , Still Life with Woodpecker It is absurd to think of love as a feeling and then complain that it doesn’t last. Feelings don’t last. The thrill of being swept away in sex might last an hour or so. Excitement might last a full day or two at most. A feeling of euphoria might last several months—but this is still a short span of time in the calendar of love. Of course one might object that the word “feeling” does not necessarily refer to such dramatic and physiologically disruptive sensations; there are also those feelings of “being comfortable” with a person, feelings of respect and loyalty, but now the word ‘‘feeling” has lost all specific meaning and seems to refer to any men- Page 77 tal attitude. Indeed, using the word “feeling” when talking about the mind is about as helpful as the use of the word “thing” when talking about objects: it covers virtually everything and accordingly helps us to understand nothing. There is, for example, that palette of feelings that we call sensations, quite specific, tied to the senses and fairly easy to pin down to physiology: flashes of color, the sound of middle C produced by pressing a single piano key, the taste of maple syrup, the feeling of a single fingernail tracing its way up the inside of one’s thigh. Then there are complexes of sensations, still specific but structured and no longer simple and no longer accountable in terms of innervation and nerve endings alone: the “impression” of a Monet water lily or a Delacroix lion, a Mozart melody, the taste of a Cabernet, the sense of warmth and affection while being hugged and held by one you love. Such structures already involve taste and interpretation, value judgments and estimations of significance. They are not only pleasant or unpleasant, successful or unsuccessful, but meaningful. Some ‘‘feelings” dispense with sensation altogether, or in any case they consist of those “inner” sensations that, though still in some sense bodily, seem to have no real connection with the five physical senses, no precise source or localization, a feeling of queasiness or repulsion, the exhilaration of joy or delighted surprise. Some such feelings might be easily explained—the effect of hormone secretions, for example, but most such feelings are more than this, involving judgment and perception as well as bodily awareness. And then there are those feelings that might better be called “intuitions” or “inclinations” or even “thoughts,” for they have about as much to do with simple sensations as the idea that the feeling of the apocryphal apple hitting Isaac Newton on the head was the same as his insight that the fall of the apple could be explained by the same force that would explain the movements of the stars. Such “feelings” encompass some of the greatest thoughts in the history of science and mathematics as well as the Page 78 feelings of insight, illumination and confidence that we all experience, but this is hardly what anyone means when they claim that love is a feeling. When love is said to be a feeling, it is that relatively dumb and aimless feeling of exhilaration and excitement, that “warm feeling all over” that is getting confused with love. So, too, many emotions (and in some psychological theories, all emotions) are conflated with the physiological feelings that accompany them, but in virtually every case this is a serious mistake. Emotions are not so dumb or aimless, and though to be sure every strong emotion—especially romantic love—is bound to be escorted by some strong bodily reactions, the emotions themselves are much more than the feelings and over a long period of time might persist with very few outbursts of feeling as such. Indeed, even the feelings are subject to the interpretation of the emotions they accompany. Whether they are pleasant or unpleasant, for example, depends upon the emotions they are bound up with—the same tingling sensations will be delightful in love, upsetting in unwanted fear. Emotions are not feelings, even when emotions are bound up with feelings. The emotion itself is a form of intelligence, a set of judgments, a way of seeing the world. As such it can last for years— even a lifetime. And quite the contrary of a feeling, which is exceedingly limited in its duration, a true emotion rarely lasts for only a moment. Real love, like real hatred and real anger, has its will to endure built right into it; it is intractable, stubborn, demanding. Unlike a feeling, it is not merely a felt physiological episode; it does not just intrude into consciousness. Love, like all emotions, is a product of the will, and in the willfulness of love the idea of fleeting romance is all but unthinkable. There is a second and in some ways more profound problem with thinking about love as a feeling, and that is that “feelings” may turn out to be a distraction from love rather than express its essence. Paying attention to the warm and bubbly sensations of Page 79 early love can too readily bewilder our attention from the strategy and obligations of love, which is why Jean-Paul Sartre suggests that romantic love is essentially an escape from responsibility. Furthermore, the feelings involved in love are, as we all know, exhilarating and inspiring, the best natural ‘‘high” that most of us know. But this (along with the chemistry that is its cause) can be seriously addicting, and we can thus understand why it is that some very “romantic” people prefer the continuous “fix” of a series of truncated love affairs to the sustenance of love as such. Feelings are not the essence of love, and the feelings of love, ironically, can lead away from love. In a long and rightly famous discussion of the role of pleasure in our lives, the great Greek philosopher Aristotle argued long ago that to think of our activities as aimed at enjoyment was both vulgar and misleading. It was vulgar because it ignored or degraded the “higher” aims of life—reducing them to nothing more than means to pleasure, and it was misleading because it misdescribed and misunderstood the nature of pleasure itself. With the exception of a few possible and unusually distinct sensations, pleasure is not a particular feeling at all; indeed, on analysis it might seem to be nothing at all. The pleasure of orgasm is perhaps the most dramatic exception, but even this is subject to dispute. We all know how hard it is to “remember” the power of an orgasm—even soon after the fact. What such powerful sensations mean, even at the time, depends wholly on the context in which they occur. A spontaneous orgasm in the middle of a medical examination is not a pleasant experience; an orgasm induced by rape is an extremely painful experience. In today’s performance-minded sexual context, an orgasm in the course of sexual intercourse may be pleasant mainly because it is an accomplishment, because it is expected, or because it proves that one is a “real” man or woman. In love, an orgasm may truly signify the “union” hypothesized by Aristophanes and the total selflessness urged (in different contexts) by the Christian saints, Page 80 but here, too, it is not the intrinsic pleasure of the sensation that is enjoyed but its context and meaning. Pleasure and enjoyment are not experiences in themselves but the accompaniment, the “completion” of activities that we happily engage in, according to Aristotle. To enjoy skiing is not to engage in a rigorous and slightly risky activity with the aim of producing some sensation of pleasure; rather one’s enjoyment of skiing is inextricable from the actual doing of it. To put it plainly, one does not ski in order to get the pleasure; one gets the pleasure from enjoying the skiing. Indeed, to concentrate on the pleasure of skiing is a good way to wind up around a tree. So, too, the pleasures of love are in the loving, and there are few worse lovers than those who celebrate the feeling instead of the beloved, like those who see orgasm as the goal of making love instead of the physical culmination of an activity that is thoroughly endowed—from first caress to morning coffee—with meaning and significance. This confusion of enjoyment as an end in itself instead of part and parcel of the activities we enjoy is very much like the confusion of the more obvious feelings of love—the excitement and exhilaration—with the love itself. We mistake the excitement for that which we are excited about. This is not to deny the place and importance of exhilaration in love but only to put it in its place, as a faithful companion of love but not love itself. Lovers may enjoy this feeling (though many do not), but the excitement as such is not the measure of their love. Indeed, excitement in many cases is the measure of the difficulty of love and, accordingly, its improbability. Exhilaration is a physical sense of overcoming, but in some “ideal” relationships the “fit” between two people is so exact and easy that there is little to overcome. Such love will resemble a warm bath more than a volcanic geyser, but it is still thoroughly romantic. Exhilaration is at most a symptom of love; it is not love itself and is not necessary for love. In fact, some recent theorists (Tannov, Peck) have argued that the initial thrill is pure pathology and the very antithesis of love. This goes Page 81 much too far in the opposite direction, turning all of love into something inevitably lukewarm and denying the more dramatic instances which keep romantic love alive, but the view is correct in its rejection of the excessive attention often paid to the secretions of the brain and their short-lived, disruptive (if inspiring) effects. We too easily tend to conclude that great feeling constitutes love, and the greater the feeling, even if incapacitating, the greater the love. But this is dangerous nonsense. Feelings follow, they do not lead the psyche. They are the body’s attempt to keep up with the mind and its intentions. Feelings are not the whole nor even the measure of love. Indeed, one way of understanding infatuation is to suspect that it consists of just the feeling of excitement, perhaps indeed quite overwhelming, but with none of the other structures of love—no caring or compassion, no sense of mutual identity, perhaps not even strong sexual desire. One just finds oneself enormously excited in the presence—or even at the thought of—another person. The feeling may be quite pleasant. (It can also be debilitating.) But it has little to do with love. The emphasis on feelings in love is itself worth emphasizing, however, not just because it has served so often as a wrong-headed account of love but because of its importance in the cultivation of love in the first place. The intensity of our inner awareness is itself part of the phenomenon of love as a deeply self-reflective emotion. One reason why love is not just a feeling, why it is peculiar to such self-absorbed and intellectually sophisticated cultures as our own, is that love could not exist without our obsession with it, our need to know whether we love or not, our attention to what it is we feel and why, our concern with our inner states of consciousness instead of just our actions and our status in the world. It is the self-awareness of love that explains love’s variability and its tendency to change under examination and criticism. Page 82 Even sensations, which get their meaning from their context and the significance we give to them, have the perplexing habit of altering under examination, shifting perspectives, changing their meaning. Consider, for example, how different a momentary chill appears depending on whether one interprets it as a sign of fear, or romantic anticipation, or a first symptom of the flu. Sensations shift with our awareness of them and emotions even more so. Think of how hard it is even to get a perceptual grip on—much less describe—a simple pain to a physician. And most to the point, try to describe the “feelings’’ one has in any emotion—shame or embarrassment, envy or jealousy—or love. There is no description, however clinically exact or poetically elegant, that even begins to capture love, not because our medical or literary talents are inadequate but because love is not a feeling and does not involve any specific feelings—except for that one grand “feeling”—which is much more than a feeling. Love is nothing less than an opening up of ourselves, not to the world, but to a single other person, struggling to redefine ourselves in his or her terms. It is a process—not just a feeling—of discovery, of development, of growing together. The thrill of love is our reaction to this process of ...
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henryprofessor
School: Carnegie Mellon University

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Anonymous
Good stuff. Would use again.

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