I think a lot about projection and pedestals, and devotion vs delusion. In a culture of fanaticism and glorification, I think it’s crucial to critically assess these things as much as possible, for they are often habits we’ve unwittingly learned: from popular media, from books and art and film and songs. Today we are living in a post-Romanticism period, our society littered with leftover remnants of the most beautiful (and unrealistic) cultural movement in history. I think a lot about how Romanticism still informs our wider understanding and perception of romantic love: obsessive and tragic attachment is a distinctive feature of the movement and, in some of the most significant works (think The Sorrows of Young Werther, Wuthering Heights, Manfred), nine times out of ten, someone (often our brooding hero, expiring for love, or the object of their unrequited or unfulfilled desire) dies.
I will probably write a more in-depth post at some point about all of this, but needless to say, I try to be super conscious of the shit I project onto others through our zeitgeist’s subconscious lens of ‘post-Romanticism’ — feeling in extremes, excessive sentimentalism, idealising and romanticising unhealthy or abusive behaviours, suicidal ideation, placing unfair and unattainable expectations onto others in the name of love… We are all victims of past painters and poets.
“The most outlandish people can be the stimulus for love. […] A most mediocre person can be the object of a love which is wild, extravagant, and beautiful as the poison lilies of the swamp. A good man may be the stimulus for a love both violent and debased, or a jabbering madman may bring about in the soul of someone a tender and simple idyll. Therefore, the value and quality of any love is determined solely by the lover himself. It is for this reason that most of us would rather love than be loved. Almost everyone wants to be the lover. And the curt truth is that, in a deep secret way, the state of being beloved is intolerable to many.”The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, Carlson McCullers
Is attraction (and repellence for that matter) ever anything more than projection on some level? I’m convinced the more damaged you are, the more prone you are to perceiving individuals through a prism of your own unmet needs — whether that leads to idealisation or devaluation or both.
If everyone you meet is a mirror, how can you begin to discern the illusion you’ve created from the reality of who they actually are?