Breaking the Crystal

I’m reading a book called The Object Stares Back by James Elkins and in the first chapter, he summarizes a viewpoint made by Stendhal about how men fall in love with women: “a lover forms a misguided idea of the person he loves and distills it into a perfect crystal. He worships the crystal, no matter what his lover might actually be like, until the moment comes when the insistent presence of the woman herself shatters the crystal and the love affair is ruined. The crystal is an entirely mistaken image of the beloved, something built out of things that have been mis-seen and misunderstood. According to Standhal, a love affair is a triangle, made of the man and the woman, who actually exist and the crystalline version of the woman created by the man.”

I’m fascinated by this idea and though Stendhal is apparently considered a bit of a chauvinist by modern standards, I think it’s actually less of a knock to women than it is to men. I won’t speak for my entire gender, but I will say that when I am with a man, I want him to see me for who I am because if he doesn’t, then what is the point of being with him? Why does he want to be with me if he only sees the pretty reflections on the wall? There’s a lot of good, but there’s some bad and a shade of ugly. I want to be accepted for all those things and as much as some men might say, I do accept those things and I love them…I hazard a guess that nobody is going to love my nagging, or pickiness, or bossiness. It just doesn’t compute and if he does, I think there’s something wrong with him. Nobody likes me being bossy.

So when I came across this quote, I just started thinking about all the things that have to go right if I’m going to meet anyone again and make something long term last with him. It’s just something I’m thinking about considering the fact that I’m still married and that I haven’t really figured out who Susanna at 30 is. With all the changes I’ve experienced, I’m looking forward to settling into a routine and slowly finding what I want, and who I want to be, or who I am regardless of who I want to be. I used to feel like I was in a race, but somehow divorce has made me realize that when I get there is when I get there. Racing toward it the first time didn’t work and if I never get there, then I wasn’t meant to anyway.


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