Love

Dear Princess ‘Ishka,

It’s hard to admit that I have failed miserably to understand love. I thought it came from a slowly growing  interest, then suddenly, at first sight. I tried to make it abstract, then concrete. I tried to induce it by means of dating apps, then in more spontaneous environments, without ever improving my comprehension of the concept and of the feeling. However, I would like to report a related discussion I once had with a friend of ours, back when I was in London. For the sake of privacy I call her N.

After having visited the Tower of London together, N and I decided to have lunch at Wetherspoons. I followed her fuzzy entanglement of honey blonde locks till the restaurant, which is right across Tower Hill. It started raining lightly.

Luckily, by the time we reached the crowded place, a group of seemingly young businessmen was leaving a table free. We sat and ordered our meals.

I always admired N. She is independent, and she has a gorgeous smile. Her untamed hair reflects her strong character.

Eventually, we ended up talking about our private life and relationships. She told me something, which left me perplexed: “you deserve to find love”.

Do I? Does anyone really deserve love? As if love were something you have a right to reclaim? Of course we were not talking about some general concept of love, but the rather specific love making someone your intimate partner for a relevant temporal interval of your life.

I asked N for clarifications. The rain outside got more intense and a cold wind started shaking the trees. She told me she didn’t intend that someone out there “ought to love me”, as I first understood her claim. If my memory doesn’t betray me, she simply meant that if you are yourself, and you love yourself, you can make a person happy. And you are open to be made happy by that person. No matter if that person is right behind the corner, or you’ll meet her in a decade or never.

To deserve to be loved meant, according to N, that there are more pros than cons to your being loved. And I agree that this amounts to deserving love. But does this also mean that anyone can deserve to find love? Finding love seems something completely independent from your will and your self-confidence. It is also something you can’t grant as some sort of normative right, insofar as you can’t induce people to love yourself with some kind of law (whether moral, rational, or the like). I thought we were left at the mercy of destiny, like the twirling leaves moved by the blowing wind out of the windows. Sometimes we meet, more often we diverge.

I find no objection to the fundamental intuition that not everything in the world can be forced under schemes of rational comprehension, but there is something more in what N intended. We must be open to our destiny and to the uncontrollable circumstances of life. Our rationality shouldn’t lock us into enclosures of what is already known and mastered, making us reject the discovery of something we fear we won’t understand or control.

Self-confidence is not enough if it remains an impenetrable shield. We need to confront our destiny, with rebellious hair and an ironic smile on our face, because destiny is not unfair. It just might quite diverge from our expectations. And we shall work hard to deserve love, even if we may never find it.

Forever yours,

‘Miasha

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Relativism

Dear Princess ‘Ishka,

In the last letter of mine, I talked about relativism. I gave it an overall negative connotation, but relativism needn’t be negative. Depending on certain perspectives, relativism can even turn out to be a medicine against prejudice. I hope now to shed more light on my ideas.20161031_112138

Consider the picture of the Tower Bridge I took in London some months ago. Despite my skills in handling cameras are those of a three years old dealing with a bazooka, I wanted to capture an interesting angle of the architecture, like most mainstream tourists pretend to do. The result is as meagre as expected, but luckily cameras are less dangerous than bazookas.

You might be asking: what on earth has this to do with “relativism”? Well, at first I didn’t notice it, because the tower was stealing the scene. But have a look down, at the couple who casually got photographed. They are women, non-white, without any man to accompany them. Look at their clothes. Nothing uncommon, would you say? Right! It is “normal”, something which was unthinkable – to say the least – less than a century ago and still is nowadays in some parts of this planet. This unsophisticated “normality” was acquired thanks to feminist fights and the strong belief in non-negotiable principles.

London is a very good example to talk about the two sides of relativism. On the one hand, a melting pot of cultures and subcultures in never ending evolution, where the mantra of diversity jeopardises any attempt of unitary definition. On the other hand, a city forged by great philosophical intuitions, and by battles for what is right, currently culminating in the election of a Muslim mayor. This is no blind praise for a city having one of the darkest histories ever and being the symbol of capitalism and savage globalisation. In this context, it just offers a good example.

There is cultural relativism, consisting in the value of dynamic cultures, and there is relativism of opinions on moral, scientific and other theoretical principles. The former is healthy, the latter is not. You may object that I put it too easily, that universal theoretical principles are chimeras, if we are to face the variety of mankind. You would have a point, but I still think that the possibility of intercultural understanding must be based on common grounds, however constrained by our human limits. As far as I can see, relativism on those grounds makes diversity unintelligible, therefore spreading ignorance, legitimating hate speech and building walls.

Forever yours,

‘Miasha