Monday, July 28, 2008


Das Flötenkonzert by Carl Spitzeg: Couples in Love

copyright Wikimedia Commons/public domain

"In real love you want the other person's good. In romantic love you want the other person." -- Margaret Anderson

Let's ramble back now from the kitchen to the bedroom -- in particular, the closet door. Let's create a context for the relationship, real or imagined, for which the picture is an icon.

What exactly is the relationship between that fan -- we'll call him Mr. Typical Fan -- and that idol (whom we'll call Ms. Object O. Desire)? Ob doesn't know Typ from a hole in the wall, though he buys all of her records, has been to a few concerts and once even blurted out "I'm your biggest fan" while she scrawled her name across an eight-by-ten for him. (That's it, framed, on the dresser; the one on the door's from a magazine.) Her music reaches right out of the CD player and touches Typ, personally. Her breasts point out of the photo only for him. Ob knows this happens on a grand scale but can't produce a mental image of Typ. Typ too knows it happens on a grand scale, but somehow he also knows he's different. He might know other fans, with whom he gathers to discuss such various topics as Ob's voice, Ob's career, Ob's tour dates, Ob's body, Ob's private life, Ob's face, Ob's body, Ob's assets and charms relative to the assets and charms of her peers, Ob's body, Ob's band and Ob's body. Typ says "I love her" and his love is half hyperbole and half something else.

Typ probably doesn't do all of the above. More likely he does only some, and possibly he does none. He might also mix and match from among the following:

He indulges in sexual fantasies concerning Ob.

He uses her picture and/or his fantasies as an onanistic aid.

He tapes her every television and radio appearance.

He writes her one or more fan letters.

He collects products which represent or refer to her.

He hangs out in places where she has been seen.

He collects information about her.

He worries about the veracity and the meaning of the information he collects.

He shares his collected information with others without regard for its veracity and without regard for its possible effect on others, including on Ob.

He feels personally affected by events in her public and private life, experiencing strong positive or negative emotions as a result.

He feels the need to communicate to her his positive or negative emotions regarding her public and private life.

He expresses his love for her and expects a reciprocal expression.

He threatens the safety of Ob and/or of persons associated with her.

He attempts to harm her.
We're still talking about love here, right?

normal fans

copyright Wikimedia Commons/SV Erlenbach
Apart from the fact that maybe now Typ should change his name to Atyp, what's wrong with this picture? Okay, it's not nice to hurt people, and we should be ashamed of ourselves for talking about masturbation, but look closely at what all of the above elements, innocent and less innocent alike, have in common. There's something odd about the above description of the relationship, and the odd thing about it is that only one party in the relationship is aware of (or if aware, acknowledges) the relationship. In her own life, Ob is a subject, and in any relationship its participants alternate between roles, but for Atyp, Ob is both all-important and nonexistent. Atyp does the thinking and feeling for both of them. When Atyp says "I love you" he means "I created you and you're not only mine, you're me."

Atyp is the guy who sleeps with the teddy bear in the shop window -- but only in his dreams. (Unfortunately, to a large or small extent, he believes in his dreams.) If he attempts to touch the bear, glass gets broken, alarms go off and Atyp gets to sleep on a bunk in a shop window of his own. It's anybody's guess whether the bear survives the adventure.

copyright Wikimedia Commons/MatthiasKabel

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