One of my ideosyncracies is that I often (due to my poor memory) repeat conversations, or even the same questions to people. One conversation that normally comes up between the Areopagites, and other people, and myself; is this question: Can we understand the Sorrows of Young Werther if we have no experience of a similar tragic love?
Michael’s bastardisation of Goethe
Let me put it into context: Werther met the lovely Lotte at a party; Lotte’s handmaiden told him not to fall in love with her because she is betrothed to another. Lo and behold; he does fall in love with her; she is so beautiful, she possesses those normative ideals of femininity (insert your own norms here; I suppose for Sinistre and Myself that ideal would probably be some isomorph of Destre, or a particular instructor we had at our respective institutions…anyway…). We then find, that Werther completely ignores the advice of Lotte’s Nurse; and FALLS IN LOVE. When he finds out that there is absolutely no possibility of a romance with dearest Lotte, he goes insane and ends up killing himself, as the one thing that gave his life meaning cannot obtain; the one project (in Sartrean terms) he had cannot be. His Fundamental project, has fallen, as Lotte marries the young arisocrat to whom she is betrothed.
Here is the question; assuming that most normal people haven’t experienced such a destructive infatuation; can we understand the actions of Werther? Or, do we deem it as ‘irrational’ in some third personal context which denies the possibility of any empathy with him?
I think two points are to be made:
- I’m making a BIG assumption that it is an uncommon human experience to have fallen in love and felt destroyed afterwards; don’t blame me for misunderstanding antrhopology; my knowledge of people comes from reading, not people.
- We need to address the normative issue of what he did. Ethical questions must be asked; moreover, meta-ethical questions must be asked
The personal, corollorary point I make is this: is this common to fall in love and be destroyed by it? I really don’t know the answer to this…I asked Sinistre and Destre about this issue:
Destre: We do not need to know love to understand it; just read lots of love literature and soforth and understand the core presuppositions of the emotional phenomenon, and you shall understand love
Sinistre: [No comment]