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Applied Theme & Variations

My Odd Love Story

I think I have never fallen in love.

When I was 13 or so (judging by the timestamp on the file), never yet having experienced being in love, but perhaps moved by a lite kind of passion for someone (more likely in the abstract than in the particular), wanting to want to fall in love, as I often do, I began to write but never finished this little piece titled “My? (Odd) Love Story”, from which here is the chorale section and a bit before.

If this represents my reverie-fantasy of love’s experience from the time, I listen now and think, damn I was so wrong lmao. Perhaps if I were to finish it today, I would add some variations like this.

Not that I would finish it today. In a mood when all fragments sound better than their completions, in which completeness is hideous by its perfect imperfection. And of course, it’s likely that the appearance of wrongness or not of my representations of love in song are only by my own experience, knowing I have loved or not loved, and associating my work of each time with the rest of what I know I know or knew. I listen again and think the first one was much better. Not that I would stay up long nights today writing love songs, and of course I glance and see that this is less romantic, and less like love.

And it is at a time when everything is worse, and when there is nothing to do, that I feel in the mood to tell my? (odd) love stories.

Theme

A portrait of myself in the company of one other. A portrait of myself alone. A portrait in which I show way too much. Realities contrasting against a good story, against me in the forum, or pseudo-alone.

Of course, placing myself as author and protagonist, I am ever the hero, virtuous but often oppressed, except when I am learning from my mistakes. So of course my stories are untrue and misleading, and the other heart in me says, really I am a terrible person, and many stories have no happy ending—but it has no voice because the written story means something, and here I am writing.

In fact, I hate my love letters, because I write them only in pain. I write them to mean something when there is no meaning, and (blind) love rushes in to fill the void. They start off like this:

As a pattern: illegible, addressed to no one, often in third person, but different from other writing in their purpose. I call them love letters, but how hideously, I think! I write them not to express love, but to love—I do love then, with all the pleasure and pain, hindered maybe by ugly unnaturalness. This one captures the kind of feeling particularly well:

In the loneliness of night, wanting, prompted, (to want) to fall in love,

Ah, how terribly familiar, and what a visceral terror too.
The pattern of my love is poor and cruel. Cruelly repeating, the hunger to feel acted on as hunger for another, therefore falsely, for she is not Feeling, and I do not feel for her.

Oh but I do, if only through the power of stories I tell myself (and even others, though I hesitate at this for knowing they are untrue, and for fear of harm.)

Not harm to I of course, but to Her. For I am in Love, after all!
I would not win her by a lie, for I am desperately in love. Oh fragile heart, that I have deceived. Now I may no longer [sense?] thee.

Does it beat in Love or terror? Even this familiarity is no hint.
“I love you”, I lie and lie before God, who in His infinite cruelty, makes all good things true.

in case you can’t read my handwriting. sometimes I can’t either

Afterward, I have adapted and addressed and delivered musings like these to someone in particular. I don’t have images of these because I have delivered them (and it is not right to ask the recipients for pictures, I tentatively believe).

In contrast, I insist I had not fallen in love in my symphony-writing days, but here is a goodbye letter from the time, which I look at now and think, at least it began to capture a sense of wanting to want to fall in (real) love, which perhaps I did not know at that time, or else that I have (intentionally or unintentionally) forgotten.

As I look at it now, I cringe and cringe and think how wrong! how ugly! (but in a different way than I have used these words before) “enjoy the rest of your life without me”?? We still talk.

It was better then, in middle school; she shed a few tears upon reading it, and kept the letter, as much as that means. So I have this image; and perhaps adjacent things are better this way, charming untouched and only corrupted by all this putrid addition. I think perhaps I have made a terrible mistake, and I go on exposing my rotting hearts to the internet, plucking pure memories from a good place and painting them terrible colors, as is consistent with the plot that will develop—

And I think it is largely because that letter was to someone in particular. My other love letters are not. I think I have never fallen in love. So I pour out my heart, and my other love letters here are to you as much as to anyone else, which makes the texture—different.

Yes, this too is a love letter. Writing to feel something, and to remember. Again just to replace anguish (more precisely, anguishing boredom) by (something like) “love”, if only for a little while.

Variation 4: Unrequited

I have never read a romance novel in my life, unless you count something like Justine (which I would not), so this will not be of the correct flavor. It is not right to talk about love. I commit a grave sin and turn sweet things sour.

My most recent stroke of Love has been the worst, for it was from the beginning explicitly a performance. We were good friends, as much as I usually become with the people around me anyway, sometimes flirting trivially and holding hands and saying things to each other in the early mornings of drunkenness and various such things, meaning nothing in particular. Until in a moment of boredom, my terrible pattern of false love.

During winter break, a long car ride, texting each other all morning, I write her this poem, ruining me by throwing us into a fiction. I become pretentious and fake, living as nothing but a performance to myself, initially beautiful in my own eyes, just to feel something. I ask if I may write her love letters, explicitly, just for fun, making clear I did not really love her in that way, and she saying the same. So I began.

I asked if she would like the texture of my script to be “a refined and elegant copperplate”, “sweet and heartwarming, an unpracticed schoolchild’s”, a few more choices I cannot remember (with photo samples), or other? She chose sweet and heartwarming, and I told myself this joke (I have this one because I drafted it digitally):

My Dearest,

Might you accept this briefly drafted prose
From me, your lover, humbly and in vain
To slightly ease your boredom in repose
On nights devoid of pleasure and of pain.

A tale of role-play and reality
Of pretense, of perception, and of lies
Of subtly bonded truth and irony
Of bold confessions sung in vain reprise.

But foremost, ’tis a tale of purest love—
The richness, fun and tragedy thereof.

I recently told you a story about a former beloved lover, to whose hardened heart I would confess my love in various futile forms. Each time he would say, smiling with a slight chuckle full of meaning, “No, I know you’re lying to me. I know you’re just playing with my emotions.” You warned me then that the fault was in myself, upon which I long reflected.

What is in that “I know you’re lying”? What is in that “just”? I thought at first that my fault was in being overly deceptive, in being known as unable to be simple, that in the simplicity of my expression my lover would always perceive extra layers of irony which were not.

But to “know you’re lying” suggests a stark duality between truth and untruth. And in the “just” of “just playing…”, there is profound simplicity! Surely my lover could not be perceiving more layers of irony than I intended, but less. The fault was not in a compounding ad absurdio, but in subtlety unseen.

In truth, my lover would always play along with my flirtations, and our time together was very rich and meaningful. But a favourite pet phrase of his was “I don’t believe you.” Perhaps if I could go back, I would tell him really there was nothing to believe.

To establish a firm barrier between pretense and presence, and to give too much credit to thoughts and words. The interpretation of being as narrative and as drama. All barriers to purity.

Today when I say “I love you,” those words are empty, but they are strong because they are backed by a rich web of context. Therefore I can say “I love you” to anyone and they will know for themselves what I mean, in a way too complex for words to expound adequately. That is the hope, at least.

In practice, words are woven among the webs of not only interpersonal contexts, but vast cultural and historical contexts, with many unknowns. The meaning-making game is a difficult one. In poetical realms like love, we assimilate and accommodate, and do not reach a consensus.

And so in that “I love you,” there is so much that I do not mean, and there is so much that I mean that goes unheard. I am lying. I am just playing with your emotions. There is too much and too little.

I’ve spent my days roleplaying and shitposting in the most remote domains of the internet and the real world. Practice makes perfect. In love, I exercise my veteran hand.

The webs of meaning evolve and devolve. We live in a society, and we are society. We are roleplayers and degenerates, in the most literal sense.

So in any case, and however imperfectly, “I love you.”

Sweetly and Heartwarmingly,
?

im blushing

I folded it into a heart by these instructions, and I think I would have really driven over from Alabama to Mississippi to deliver it to her door, as an inside joke, if I’d had car insurance (I didn’t). How utterly autistic! The opposite of sweet and heartwarming at any level of analysis a little beyond object-level (but not too far). It was funny and delightful to me; I was sincerely engaged.

But obviously, I was wrong to play with people like words, and I hurt her, and myself also. Now I found (or rather, remembered, realized in immediate experience) that in telling a story so vividly and so long, and especially in performing it, I came to believe in it in every way. My love became real, even real to her. To simplify: love against God’s will is a terrible thing.

One night, in a moment of fatigue, the Other in me, after a little vulnerable conversation, spewed forth putridly to save itself from death.

Then I am consumed by the Mask. In a climactic turn, all good things end, and there is no more beauty in my love. Everything shows in vivid hideous splendor as fiction and reality merge but do not blend. A wreck.

Until we do not know nor really care what we are saying.

And finally, mercifully, she kills me.

Around this time I went to Justin Murphy’s Based Mansion event and got on Twitter, where I was rewarded for being bad and wrong, just because I spoke Truth. Now I regret it sometimes, especially when I look forward into an Abyss that sometimes resembles a hall of mirrors, disorienting me and asking me where I am, where I am going, where I have come from.

It takes a while to be reborn. Having become the story, my love-loss is as real as any other, and I feel empty for a while. Then I repeat my mistakes in the company of others, having learned some things but not everything.

Here is a letter from a series of apologies I subsequently wrote to her, to me, and to you. But even in these I am bad and wrong, and at times I even crave to be punished, but no one has the right words to wound me, when I am in another fiction, or too close to God (in Bataille’s sense more than any Christian’s) or else in whatever way too closely resemble or evoke something Beyond.

To whom will hear,

For even in such a brief time, being quite without you has rendered me so much the more sensitive to what you had been against my hardened heart, so here is a vain apology for my sin, and for at least what transgressions against you of which I am now made aware. But may the glory of natural law humble me further yet!

I must really stop living as a performance for myself. It is becoming terribly lame. Therefore please excuse my poetic license as I calibrate to something better, for I have lost something important in the rain. I have lost myself in the underworld, quagmire of irony and deceit.

Verily I am drowning in irony, and I am not sure where to step. Natural law is just, and bad things do not happen to good people; therefore when I suffer I know that I am wrong. I Wotan have piled the logs around Valhalla; Siegfried is dead, and Brunhilde rides into the pyre.

You were right and we were wrong. The “life as art” thing isn’t working very well. I’ve lost sincerity and gained actual autism. For my life is now more an inscrutable play than meaningful membership in society. I have theory of mind, but ignore what it tells me in favor of some aesthetic standard quite ill-tied to social utility, or to anything else—trauma’s scars or something. Fucking hell.

More wretched than the fool is the fool who boasts of enlightenment, and more wretched yet is he who so boasts, and is believed. I made vain pretense to wield the Holy Lance, and evil so readily claimed it to wound my own side. As Beast with lamb’s tongue I spoke poison, and when you, kind Parsifal, spoke against me, I pronounced you dead and wounded you. “Pure fool, enlightened by compassion,” your reward is in heaven, mine in hell.

The “Well” hexagram of the I-Ching consists of water above—danger, and wind below—penetrating. “…The rope does not reach all the way. The bucket breaks. Misfortune” The adept Liu I-Ming comments, “If one insists on trying to teach people before one has attained the Tao oneself, this is called lacking the basis. Development without the basis lacks inward mastery; arbitrarily used, it creates confusion, and without having helped anyone else one first loses oneself. This is like trying to get water from a well, but the rope does not reach all the way…”

Therefore it is well that you have severed the short rope, and that you ride into the pyre in grief. The Rhine now overflows its banks to quench the fires of Götterdämmerung. In the unused well, the golden elixir begins to crystallize.

Thus I leave you with the encouragement which John of Patmos in the Holy Spirit delivered to the Church in Ephesus.

These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

im blushing

Of course, I did not refer here to any love related to me. I cannot resist a joke still, and I suffer (but then, this is the best time to joke, thereby to laugh). In another love letter in limbo between life and death, I tell the story in fuller detail. Again I tell the story.

With (Im)perfect Sincerity,

All these words are mere play, and we are feeble characters in it. The script of “I am…” meshes too closely with what to say and to do and to be.

So in my unsensible “not,” I may have forsaken my place in the theatre of your experience. But see and hear and feel what I am to you, and behold that it is real.

I’m deeply in love with you in many modes; really you believe less than you ought. But indeed I am afraid to act, for indecision from many fronts. Foremost is my Fall from Heaven—I’ll describe that shortly. Then are your various words against me; direct and indirect readings confound a straight path.

Fall From Heaven

In a simple view, “magic” is just a way to mature faster than normal, and a precise language to describe subtle aspects of the process of maturation, which is ill discussed in mundane tongue. In the beginning of the school-year, I LARPed as a witch-doctor in an effort to heal.

The healer-supplicant role is not equal. To be healed by something equal is annoying—to be called neurotic, to be disdained, to be misunderstood. But privately, the neurotic very much wants to heal, though she will go great lengths not to admit this. Yet she will approach the healer when the narrative is palatable. Therefore I took the healer role, and many approached me.

I know things and have done things; psychoanalysis, magic, human experience. I actually can heal, when the patient actually trusts me as healer (the importance of this trust-relation is emphasized in all traditions). But the magical (and psychotherapeutic) work is very harmful when not carried through to completion; and I had no time nor effort to complete my work. Indeed I never expected to attract so much in the form of healer, and foolishly began an effort, which I since have all but abandoned.

And in ceasing to LARP as a witch-doctor (not for dishonesty, but for that role takes a great deal of commitment, and I have other commitments), the trust essential to healing was largely dissipated. I threw myself from Heaven, but could hardly return though I wanted. I became an equal—and again, the equal cannot well heal, but only trouble.

I’ve considered that maybe I’m wrong and “you” (somewhat plural) are right. But my interactions with certain people—my anthropology professor, his graduate student that he introduced me to, the visiting scholar from Brazil, []’s mom, []’s brother, several people I met in China including my boss and his Taoist master, many people from the conference I’m attending…—persuade me that this isn’t so. I’ve often been advised to drop out of university for example, or at least to “not bother”; don’t try to gain from you guys what I can’t, actively surround myself with more inspiring people, rather than your “everyone else” (as in “maybe everyone else is right”)—yet somehow I am hesitant; for youth? for love?

Situated here, I want deep and meaningful friendship even, no, especially from the people around me. But I can’t form such friendships with someone neurotic—for that neurosis becomes a veil to what I really want to engage with so that I always am somehow first trying to heal the neurosis (and it is somewhat doomed to be ineffectual, for I want the friendship to be equal, and so often I prematurely take the equal form).

There are also the problems of interest and knowledge—1. not every non-neurotic is my best friend; 2. I’ve spent so much time amongst mystics and philosophers and such, and outcasts and pretentious intellectuals. Neurosis (but not just neurosis) prevents one from certain ways of thinking, but even when one is able to think in some way, it is another thing to have already thought through some particular thing. I am so used to engaging with people who have already heard of and thought through such and such things, and who work from these things to others. And especially since I’m not so sure how long I’ll spend with you guys, how do I dedicate my time? Talking about things I’ve long since already thought through, many times, to the point that they bear no new fruit? Or making do with just a very tentative connection, more thinking and talking to myself than really engaging in conversation? 

And again, I am limited in my form. Do I take the healer-role or no? Do I posture above or alongside or below? Do I go near or far? For how long? Thence my indecision.

And so again, I really do love you, but truly don’t know what to do. Therefore may this letter at least offer a clearer perspective; as always, take it how you will—of course I can ask nothing else, however desperately.

With Love,

Yang

P.S: Re “you’re dumb”: Sure, but you severely underestimate me. Both just how little AND how much you mean to me.

Of course all this is just one perspective, and therefore wrong like all the rest.

im blushing

And to conclude, a Requiem introitus I wrote around the same time as “My? (Odd) Love Story”. Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine:
et lux perpetua luceat eis. Te decet hymnus, Deus, in Sion,
et tibi reddetur votum in Ierusalem.

I never wrote the Kyrie, or I would have that here instead. Not that the MIDI rendering has voiced lyrics.

Kyrie, eleison. Christe, eleison. Kyrie, eleison.

Prelude

Next, the boy I mentioned in the first letter of this variation, the girl from China (my boss’s wife’s sister), and scattered experiences from temporary environments like summer camps and the psychiatric ward. More feelings, more thoughts through thin vessels of terrible love stories. But maybe I won’t write these if the mood passes (or it will take a very long time). Yet maybe I will.

—to be (possibly) continued.

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