Comments on La Rochefoucauld

I will be posting short essays on each of La Rouchefoucauld's Maxims

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Maxim 637

"The candor lovers require of each other so as to be sure when each has ceased to love the other is wanted less as a warning that soon they will no longer be loved than as a reassurance that they are still loved when nothing is said to the contrary."

Truth and lies. One of the Ten Commandments does not read "Thou shalt not lie"; it rather reads "Thou shalt not bear false witness." It is a legal term, and is meant legally – that one should not lie to either harm a good person or to help a bad person. And thank God for that distinction! We tell each other (especially those whom we love) to always be honest – but that is itself a lie. We don’t want honesty. People fall in and out of love all the time. Love, like all things, has duration. It is an action and, thus, in time. It waxes and wanes. Yet we want to hear that the love others feel for us is forever, that is has Being, and is not an action. Love is a verb, not a noun.

Ah, but what a beautiful lie! Love waxes and wanes, but nonetheless, we maintain the fiction of remaining "in" love even should we fall out of it. And since love is a verb, we can return to love, we can continue to love – we just have to chose to continue to act on it. Thus, the appearance of love becomes love itself. Do not say you do not love me, and I will continue to think you do. That is what we want, and it is a lie that we need to hear, that is a good lie, being a lie that gives us life.


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