sandman

Somewhere in this endless internet I’ve found the most breathlessly poetic answer to this question – sadly not by me 😉 – but by author Jeanette Winterson:

How do we fall in love?

You don’t fall in love like you fall in a hole.
You fall like falling through space.
It’s like you jump off your own private planet to visit someone else’s planet.
And when you get there it all looks different: the flowers, the animals, the colours people wear.
It is a big surprise falling in love because you thought you had everything just right on your own planet, and that was true, in a way, but then somebody signalled to you across space and the only way you could visit was to take a giant jump.
Away you go, falling into someone else’s orbit and after a while you might decide to pull your two planets together and call it home.
And you can bring your dog. Or your cat. Your goldfish, hamster, collection of stones, all your odd socks. (The ones you lost, including the holes, are on the new planet you found.)
And you can bring your friends to visit.
And read your favourite stories to each other.
And the falling was really the big jump that you had to make to be with someone you don’t want to be without.
That’s it.

PS You have to be brave.

8 comments

  1. I loved her memoir, but I wish she hadn’t written this in the second person. She’s better in the first person.

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    1. In the light of the now equal marriage rights in the US – I think it is – whether written in the first or second person – just a striking example how truly universal love is. Someone who doesn’t know that the author is a lesbian, would never assume that from this poem. It’s just about the strong feelings of a “togetherness” with another person.

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  2. I actually have never been convinced that love is universal. That said, to me, “I” is someone I can at least potentially identify with. “You” is presumptuous and preachy and if I don’t see myself in her descriptions of “you,”I tune out, which is what I did twice while reading this.

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    1. I can relate to your problems with that … but maybe as I’m someone who likes talking to others in the 3rd person (not sure if this is a German thing?), I’m o.k. with her style. Also just sometimes extraordinary experiences leave you literally “standing beside yourself” … and then it might be easier to put your feelings into words that sound universal, because it is felt like this at that moment. I think because I’m experiencing a sort of being in love on a somewhat “higher octave” for some time now, I’m easy prey for this particular poem 😉
      But one thing I actually don’t ship is that ‘odd-sock’ idea of hers. Philosophically speaking, even if sometimes it concerns our favourite pair of socks, it might have had a reason we lost one part of it. But someone else is probably happy at the thought, that he might meet up with his odd socks another time another place again 😉

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  3. You can be okay with it. I’m just not, and I wish that if she had wanted to speak in the abstract or suggest that her experiences are applicable to wider groups, she had used the third person, which we also have in English, and which communicates that mood, or indicated that she was speaking about her own experiences. It’s relatively rare to use the second person in literary speech (an important example of the effect that this has on readers is seen in Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City), and it’s always done with a specific reason. It’s used in colloquial speech all the time, of course, but I would argue, not for sentiments like these.

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    1. Hey, I’m totally okay with you not being okay with it. It’s important to discuss different views on things! Otherwise you wouldn’t have reminded me of that excellent book that I just took from the shelve to re-read the first page. In german, softcover, 1. print August 1986, Rowohlt:
      “Du bist nicht der Typ, der sich morgens um diese Zeit an einem Ort wie diesem umhertreibt. Aber da bist du nun mal, und du kannst nicht behaupten, daß dir die Umgebung gänzlich unvertraut ist, auch wenn die Einzelheiten ein bisschen verschwommen sind. (…) Vielleicht ließe sich alles klären, wenn du nur auf die Toilette verschwinden und noch ein bisschen von dem bolivianischen Marschierpulver schnupfen könntest. Vielleicht aber auch nicht. Eine leise Stimme in dir behauptet beharrlich, dieser epidemische Mangel an Klarheit sei darauf zurückzuführen, daß du schon zuviel von dem Zeug hattest. Die Nacht ist bereits bis zu jenem Punkt fortgeschritten, wo aus zwei Uhr morgens unmerklich sechs Uhr morgens wird.” … drat, now I’m curious how it would be to read it again in english. 😉

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      1. I’ve never tried to read it in Germany … but I think “Du” can mean something slightly different in German than “you” does in English.

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