I just finished watching “Iris”, a little film about Iris Murdoch. I didn’t, and still don’t, know much about her.
There’s so much attention paid to the beginning and end of love, but almost none to the middle. The movie was set at both the beginning of the beginning and the beginning of the end of Iris’ and her husband’s love.. It ended with the end of the beginning and the end of the end.
Why is it that we are so fascinated with beginnings and ends of just about everything, but seem to care so little about middles?
It would seem to be the most important bit, the middle. It’s typically the longest. It ties the beginning to the end. But it’s simply not as interesting. Perhaps the beginning dictates the end, and the means just don’t seem important after that. But that’s just what ought to be important.
When I set off to drive somewhere, the beginning is always one of the best feelings. I’m headed out, away. I know that something will transpire before the end of the trip, and that anticipation of that something is what it’s all about. The setting out typically predicates reaching a destination (or returning to the point of origin). The end is already decided, so it’s not the outcome that’s anticipated, but the journey. During the journey, though, the end seems to be the only thing in site. Oh, sure, I’ll drive about almost aimlessly, but I’ve always got to get to the next camping site by sundown. It’s what I’m thinking about. Sure, I try to spend some time enjoying the journey, but really, it doesn’t happen until the journey is over. Then, at the end, I think back on the middle. Or at the end of the day, I’ll remember the journey that day. The truth is, of course, that I can’t think about THIS point in the road, because I’ve already passed it, and points don’t exist since they’re infinitessimly small. So there’s only the earlier to think about, and if you think about the past as far future as you can, you come to the end of the past. And the future stretches out before you, and you, you are in the middle, and you can’t see it, because that point that is the middle, doesn’t exist.. because it’s infinitesimally small.
At what point in a love affair do we stop feeling giddy about the anticipation of things to learn about another, the crevices of another mind to discover… But eventually the devouring of the other is complete, when it seems that there’s no crevice left unprobed… The giddiness seems to leave and is replaced by the simple pleasure of knowing. We take pride in predicting what the other will order at a restaurant, we know each article of the other’s clothing, even, it seems, each article of the other’s vocabulary. We remember the early days pleasantly… But at what point does the switch take place? It is not an instant thing, nor is it, perhaps, ever a complete thing.
For instance, in the beginning, there’s great pleasure when you correctly guess about something you didn’t know about the other. Or, in the end, every now and then you learn something you never knew, pick up an a nuance you never noticed before.
I used to think, for sure, love was all about learning another person, and that it took a lifetime to learn someone. I suppose that you never learn everything about another, but there is a sharp drop-off. When you make that switch, is it in the middle? Is there a middle?
Maybe we’re not interested in the middle because the end of the beginning and the beginning of the end are the same thing.
But, still, when you’re young you dream of all the time you’ll have to live with one another. And when you’re old you dream of all the time you spent together when you were young. There’s got to be a middle there, somewhere. — I realized just now that I can’t spell infinitesimally. (I still couldn’t spell it, there, I had to go back and look it up again.) Why does it feel false to use spell check? It feels like cheating. I feel guilty for going back and correcting things like that.
My hypochondriacal (hah. should I look that one up?) tendencies are getting worse. tendancies. tendencies. I don’t know, they both look wrong. (They probably are, I spelled fascinated as “fastenated” up there, and just couldn’t figure it out). Last night, I watched Niagra, Niagra and imagined myself contracting Tourette’s syndrome which is, of course, impossible. But I felt as if I were to give into my whims, my compulsions, that I would end up that way. Maybe I will. Anyway, tonight, I feel as though my mind has been slipping. I’ve noticed, for some time actually, that my spelling has been getting worse the past few months. I’m not sure why. I’m reading more than I have in awhile, though maybe not writing as much. My spelling has never been good, but it’s quickly becoming absurdly bad. My vocabulary seems to be dwindling, I can no longer grasp the words I’m reaching for. Have I passed my peak? Is it downhill from here? Have I don’t the best I’m going to do? I did nothing worth much of anything, and now that’s it, I’m done already?
The mind is a weird thing, it is.
Anyway, I couldn’t think of an audience, so you all get something, though I apologize for it being the same thing. Another sign, perhaps, of my deterioration. Typically I’m too disturbed about writing to more than one person to even attempt it, much less six of you. I imagine each of you reading certain passages, but in general, wondering why I bothered send it to you. I’m not sure, I can’t say. I know it’s nothing profound, I just felt like communicating. Perhaps because I haven’t talked another person, except with the telephone, for several days, which is fairly uncommmon for me of late. Am I becoming a social creature? Not a chance.
Oh, I thought about BCC’ing the the TO: list, but I generally feel offended when someone sends me something and I don’t know who else recieved it. Part of my whole honesty kick, I guess. There’s also amusement for me in knowing that not one of you knows who all of the other six are.
Maybe I should start journaling again. It’s more passive than stuffing mailboxes.