Camille Blogs a Bit

Writing about design, technology, maybe philosophy, and daily living (in Singapore)

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Category: Literature (page 2 of 4)

You are not a terrible person for wanting to break up with someone you love. You don’t need a reason to leave. Wanting to leave is enough. Leaving doesn’t mean you’re incapable of real love or that you’ll never love anyone else again. It doesn’t mean you’re morally bankrupt or psychologically demented or a nymphomaniac. It means you wish to change the terms of one particular relationship. That’s all. Be brave enough to break your own heart.

Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life From Dear Sugar

Accept that the man you love was unfaithful to you. Accept that a woman you once held in regard treated you with disrespect. Accept that their actions hurt you deeply. Accept that this experience taught you something you didn’t want to know. Accept that sorrow and strife are part of even a joyful life. Accept that it’s going to take a long time for you to get that monster out of your chest. Accept that someday what pains you now will surely pain you less.

Cheryl Strayed, “Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life From Dear Sugar”

currently reading: love virtually, Daniel Glattauer

this review / commentary will contain spoilers, because I honestly just want to discuss this book with someone. for all the spoiler-free reviews, Google will suffice.

it is one of those books that you really shouldn’t judge by its title (or perhaps it’s just me doing the judging) because “love virtually” looks and sounds like a chic-lit novel when in fact, it just isn’t (the German title is, “Gut gegen Nordwind,” and I’m not sure if the English translation was appropriate).

i’ve read some other novels that did the email-correspondence format (Meg Cabot comes to mind), but this was done splendidly, maybe sometimes poetically, that I know I would eventually come back to reread this story.

I read this without knowing how the book ends, unlike how I used to read a lot of books before. I do this normally because I want to know if I’m getting a sad story or not. this story was heartbreaking, with internal and emotional conflicts that painted so many gray areas that even if I wasn’t predicting any happy or sad ending, I was feeling so hopeful that these two characters would just find each other and that I, the reader, could finally feel happiness for them.

there were a number of things I loved about this book. both characters are realistically flawed, and I could feel the development of their relationship just by reading their emails to each other (strangers spilling enough about themselves to find the other a friend, and then the petty quarrels and jealousies that you would find in any normal, physically intimate couple, their longing for the constant [virtual] presence of the other). and then the way Leo writes. yes, Leo, romantic and heartbroken, but so honest with his feelings:

You’re so harsh, Emmi. Don’t be so harsh. I don’t want coffee. I want Emmi. Come over to my place. Let’s drink another small glass of wine. We could wear blindfolds, like in the film. I don’t know what the film’s called, I’ll have to think about it. I’d really love to kiss you. I don’t care what you look like. I’ve fallen in love with your words. Write what you want. Feel free to be harsh. I love it all. You see, deep down you’re not harsh really. But you force yourself to be, you just want to make out you’re stronger than you are. Marlene doesn’t touch booze. Marlene is a very sober woman, yet fascinating. That’s what everybody who knows her says. She got together with a pilot, from Spain. But it’s all over now. She says there’s only one man for her and that’s me. That’s a lie, you know. She can’t have me any more. It really hurts when you split up. I don’t want to split up from Marlene again. My mother liked her, but she’s dead, she was unlucky. It’s very different from how I thought it would be. Part of me has died with her. I’ve only been aware of it since that part of me died. My mother wasn’t that interested in me, just in my little sister. And my father emigrated to Canada and took my older brother with him. I fell somewhere in-between. I was ignored. I was a quiet child. I can show you photos. Do you want to see photos? I was always Buster Keaton at carnival time. I like silent, sad, funny heroes who can pull faces. Come over, let’s drink another glass to us and look through carnival photos. Shame you’re married. No, it’s a good thing you’re married. Would you cheat on your husband, Emmi? Don’t do it. It hurts so terribly to be cheated on. I’m already a little drunk, but my head’s still clear. Marlene cheated on me once. I mean, once that I know of. You take one look at Marlene and you know that she’ll cheat on you. I’m putting that all behind me now, Emmi. Here’s a kiss. And another kiss. And another kiss. And another. Whoever you are. I long to be close. I don’t want to think about my mother. I don’t want to think about Marlene. I want to kiss Emmi. Excuse me, I’m a bit drunk. It’s all behind me now. I’m off to bed. Goodnight kiss. Shame you’re married. I think we’d be good together. Emmi. Emmi. Emmi. I like writing Emmi. Left middle finger once, right index finger twice and, two rows above that, right middle finger. E M M I. I could write Emmi a thousand times. Writing Emmi is kissing Emmi. Let’s go to bed, Emmi. 

the novel ended so abruptly, the cliff-hanger felt so sad and final, as if they were still in the middle of things rather than the end. now all I want to know is what happens to them. that maybe there was a way that they saw each other eventually, or maybe even ended up together in some far future, because they seem to get along so well in writing. however, there will always be the fact that Emmi is married, and even if she does not have children of her own with her husband, a consequence of a happy ending for them would be a tragic end for her marriage.

but then again, even if they had met each other, how would I know if the relationship worked outside of the internet? but still, both of them found something missing within each other and it seemed like they ought to have that chance to be together.

but of course I will never know because of how the novel actually ended. apparently there is a sequel: every seventh wave. i can’t get hold of it yet because the ebook is exclusive to amazon’s UK site and all the other sites only sell in the US. the reviews make me rethink my desire to know what happens as the author penned it, or keep to my imagination.

I’m not going to lie: cheating is wrong. my stand about this matter is: if somebody feels differently about his or her significant other, it is important to be honest and break things off first before starting a new relationship. with this I can carry no judgment to the person who had called it off.

but then again: what is cheating? 

would a correspondence without physical intimacy be considered cheating? but with emotional ties, whether or not you have a face or voice attached to a being, it IS possible to fall in love, to grow to love another person, to want them, to lust for them. that moment you have started to care for another, would you consider that cheating?

now to the gray area: considering I am against cheating, is it bad that I wanted Leo and Emmi to have a chance to be together? to actually meet so they would tell me and that I would know? that they don’t have to have sex so it wouldn’t be cheating, but that they could see each other and maybe fall in love more completely than they already have? and that, maybe, ultimately, they will be happy?

and for my favorite quote:

Write to me, Emmi. Writing is like kissing, but without lips. Writing is kissing with the mind. Emmi, Emmi, Emmi.

to know that they can never write to each other again, unless Leo does contact her himself (but I think that he never will), makes the end all the more heartbreaking.

currently reading: status anxiety, alain de botton

I’ve been reading Status Anxiety and it’s helping me understand my feelings towards some people and especially my perception of myself. It explores mankind’s history, from the age of peasants and their unfortunate lot in life, and compares it to how much miserable we are compared to them, despite the fact that we are materially richer and live longer. It discussed the different values that have changed through time, and the kind of achievements that you are judged for nowadays. 

Funnily enough, tonight I experienced one of those topics to be very true. And for some reason, it’s making me less self-conscious over my own lack of talent or sense of worth because now I myself know that there are some things like luck and circumstance that affects a person’s “success.” They’re not always deserving of it, and it doesn’t make me a “lesser” person. 

“We will gradually become indifferent to what goes on in the minds of other people when we acquire an adequate knowledge of the superficial and futile nature of their thoughts, of the narrowness of their views, of the paltriness of their sentiments, of the perversity of their opinions, and of the number of their errors … We shall then see that whoever attaches a lot of value to the opinions of others pays them too much honour,” argued Arthur Schopenhauer, a leading model of philosophical misanthropy.

My perception of people have been constantly changing the past year, and for very valid reasons. The longer time passes, the more new people I meet and befriend, the harsher my comparisons become, and I become more easily convinced at my own standard of who good people are. 

Slowly I’m trying to learn how to detach myself from wrong standards of “success” or amazingness by the general public, a.k.a majority. In a sense, impressive people seem less brilliant while I’m putting more importance on the weight of a person’s strength or goodness of character.

“Once we have resolved only to see those who will treat us morally and virtuously, reasonably and truthfully, without treating conventions, vanities and ceremonials as anything other than props of polite society; when we have taken this resolve (and we have to do so or we will end up foolish, weak or villainous), the result is that we will have to live more or less on our own.”

Now: I learn to focus on things that I enjoy doing, encourage myself, set goals, encourage myself. 

You feel the world going on without you. And soon, you become starkly aware that in the great history of life, you mean absolutely nothing.

I’ve been reading Everything Beautiful Began After

The title above is a quote from the book that is significant to me mainly because it’s how I feel about the world and the people in it often. 

I think this is why most people feel less lonely when they’re in a relationship. 

“Loneliness is like being the only person left alive in the universe, except that everyone else is still here.”

And then imagine you’re not even important enough to anybody in that universe. 

But also, that  Love is like life but longer. 

And this is only how the world can go on with you in it, even if not physically. 

In My Dreams, Stevie Smith

In my dreams I am always saying goodbye and riding away,
Whither and why I know not nor do I care.
And the parting is sweet and the parting over is sweeter,
And sweetest of all is the night and the rushing air.

In my dreams they are always waving their hands and saying goodbye,
and they give me a stirrup cup and I smile as I drink,
I am glad the journey is set, I am glad I am going,
I am glad, I am glad, that my friends don’t know what I think.