European Diary

Of Love’s Compromises

Death is terribly tactful.  It comes to a man when he finally realizes that he understands nothing, thus saving his face.  Watched back to front, like the videocassette that you know is on fast rewind when you see the hooker paying the client, life is a gradual shedding of obsolescent platitudes, a quiet letting go of truths discredited by events, a delicate parting of the ways with what were once one’s guiding preconceptions.  Among these is one’s view of compromise generally and of the compromises that mark the relationship between the sexes in particular.

As in the symbiosis of work and play, the arterial system through which our certainties course, and where our vacillations are oxygenated, is volition—that is, a person’s inner conviction that the choice he is making is untrammeled by anything anterior to his will.  A man may be happy to jump on the trampoline all day long provided nobody’s holding a gun to his head, because otherwise we think he has every right to regard this bit of harmless fun as a form of torture under the Geneva Conventions.

The diabolical twist to the compromise of love is that it suits a commercial civilization to equate wealth with liberty.  Of all such self-serving definitions—to the effect that the acquisition of wealth is success, that success thus adjudged is virtue, that virtue accrued on account of success is wisdom, and so on—it...

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