Sunday, 8 February 2015

Love and the Absence of Love

Love - well, what else makes the world tick? So please find some Canadian expressions of this hottest topics of all :)

Oh yes, and don't forget to do something nice for your Loved Ones on Valentine's Day....



Image from: http://pixabay.com/p-34998/?no_redirect

18 comments:

  1. Although this isn't a piece of poetry or fiction, I found the article, "To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This", written by UBC professor Mandy Len Catron for the New York Times, relevant to this post and particularly interesting because it applies social science to our understanding of love and breaks the process of falling in love down to a formula. Catron in the article examines Dr. Arthur Aron's study "The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness" which, seems to suggest that love is created from a level of deep emotional intimacy that can be generated with anyone, opposed to the common myth that falling in love is a natural and possibly inexplicable experience.
    Here is the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/fashion/modern-love-to-fall-in-love-with-anyone-do-this.html?_r=2
    And here is one of the sets of questions used in "The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness":
    Set I

    Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

    Would you like to be famous? In what way?

    Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?

    What would constitute a "perfect" day for you?

    When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?

    If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?

    Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?

    8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.

    9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

    10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?

    11. Take 4 minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.

    12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained anyone quality or ability, what would it be?

    Set II

    13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future, or anything else, what would you want to know?

    14. Is there something that you've dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven't you done it?

    15. What is the greatest accomplishment ofyour life?

    16. What do you value most in a friendship?

    17. What is your most treasured memory?

    18. What is your most terrible memory?

    19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?

    20. What does friendship mean to you?

    21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?

    22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic ofyour partner. Share a total of 5 items.

    23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?

    24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?

    Set III

    25. Make 3 true "we" statements each. For instance 'We are both in this room feeling ..."

    26. Complete this sentence: "I wish I had someone with whom I could share ..."

    27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.

    Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time saying things that you might not say to someone you've just met.

    Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.

    When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?

    Tell your partner something that you like about them already.

    What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?

    33. I f you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven't you told them yet?

    34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save anyone item. What would it be? Why?


    A little late to have tried this on Valentine's Day, but an interesting experiment nonetheless!

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  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aRKZFR5imM

    "Famous Blue Raincoat", written by Leonard Cohen is a poem/song of betrayal and the strange circumstances that are born out of such betrayal. We sense the reality that the worst part of betrayal is that it does not come from our enemies.

    Leonard starts the poem off in solitude, amongst winter and the cold. He is alone and has left his home and moved to New York in order to create a new identity and world for himself void of his painful past. He writes a letter and sings it to his brother, his dear friend who has betrayed him so badly. This letter is metaphoric in the sense that both men are calling out to each other, through their personally evoked imprisoned solitude Leonard can feel his brothers sorrow and regret and one can sense a certain peace with this. Through such agony and separation, both men are at a loss.

    He hears his friend has moved away to some desolate place, where he lives for nothing, permanently surrounding himself with his regret, his guilt and his pain. Leonard writes him to see if he has forgiven himself and asks, ‘did you ever go clear?’

    Leonard speaks of Jane coming to him with a lock of his brother’s hair, a symbol of his everlasting memory. Leonard does not hate this hair, as he loves it ultimately and in a way reveres the nostalgia it holds and tragic situation it is associated with and is views it as a gesture of apology amongst his departure into the ‘clear’. Leonard simultaneously despises his brother yet reveres him, as he was able to take Jane’s sorrow away, something he could never do. Through this, Leonard loves and forgives his lost friend and the letter can be seen as a call to him, and echo through time, distance and space…

    He sings of the last time he saw his brother remembers the pain that was riddled upon his face, the torture upon his soul. He speaks of, ‘Your famous blue raincoat was torn at the shoulder’. This raincoat was a symbol of identity and through the circumstance, his identity began to unravel (tear) forcing him to flee, in order to redefine his identity and reconcile with his guilt.

    Leonard’s brother saved Jane and awakened a light in her. Leonard is conflicted due to this and thanks his brother for his betrayal as it lead to Jane’s awakening. He sings to his friend, ultimately forgiving him.

    Leonard thanks his friend, as he took all the trouble from Jane’s eyes, something he could never do. This leads to forgiveness: the love for his wife and his friend surpass his own futile emotions, desires and needs.

    Leonard has risen above extraordinary betrayal. However, he will never forget and can never forget as Jane is a living memory, ‘And Jane came by with a lock of your hair, She said that you gave it to her, That night that you planned to go clear’.

    It is not clear whether Leonard’s brother is dead or alive, for what exactly does ‘clear’ mean? The feeling I get from the poem is one of a certain tragic nostalgia. It could be that the place Leonard’s brother has put himself in could be viewed as purgatory. I only say this because the feeling I get from listening to this song and reading this poem is almost an unreachable memory, fresh yet distant and foreign.

    The poem is an epic story of love, loss, betrayal, awakening, isolation, solitude, self-imposed imprisonment, guilt, understanding and ultimately forgiveness and enlightenment.

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. This is the poem:)

    It's four in the morning, the end of December
    I'm writing you now just to see if you're better
    New York is cold, but I like where I'm living
    There's music on Clinton Street all through the evening.

    I hear that you're building your little house deep in the desert
    You're living for nothing now, I hope you're keeping some kind of record.

    Yes, and Jane came by with a lock of your hair
    She said that you gave it to her
    That night that you planned to go clear
    Did you ever go clear?

    Ah, the last time we saw you you looked so much older
    Your famous blue raincoat was torn at the shoulder
    You'd been to the station to meet every train
    And you came home without Lili Marlene

    And you treated my woman to a flake of your life
    And when she came back she was nobody's wife.

    Well I see you there with the rose in your teeth
    One more thin gypsy thief
    Well I see Jane's awake

    She sends her regards.
    And what can I tell you my brother, my killer
    What can I possibly say?
    I guess that I miss you, I guess I forgive you
    I'm glad you stood in my way.

    If you ever come by here, for Jane or for me
    Well your enemy is sleeping, and his woman is free.

    Yes, and thanks, for the trouble you took from her eyes
    I thought it was there for good so I never tried.

    And Jane came by with a lock of your hair
    She said that you gave it to her
    That night that you planned to go clear

    Sincerely L Cohen

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  5. Habitation - Margaret Atwood

    Marriage is not
    a house or even a tent

    it is before that, and colder:

    the edge of the forest, the edge
    of the desert
    the unpainted stairs
    at the back where we squat
    outside, eating popcorn

    the edge of the receding glacier

    where painfully and with wonder
    at having survived even
    this far

    we are learning to make fire

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    Replies
    1. Talking about the challenges of marriage, essentially the poem goes into talking about how marriage is almost something that is primitive to humans and something that is not natural and needs to be worked at to succeed. The poem is written almost backwards, almost as if to symbolize that a marriage has to be worked from the ground, up. The fire in the poem likely represents the love as well as passion, which is something of a necessity to fuel a relationship, especially in a marriage. Interestingly, the word edge is repeated numerously throughtout the poem as if to say that a marriage is very hard to keep from breaking as if everything is on edge. "We are learning to make fire." This last line stands alone, likely to convey that the only thing that will sustain a marriage is passion and love (symbolized by the fire).

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  6. A Canadian "love poem" that I seem to keep coming back to is "Blues" by the, previously discussed, late Vancouver-based poet bpNichol. "Blues" could be discussed in both this section and the section concerning concrete poetry; however, I believe it deserves to be discussed here.

    "Blues" implements the concrete/visual style in order to display the erratic and disorienting nature of love. bpNichol intersects the word "love" with itself many times over, which suggests that all love is one, or in the very least that love affects all other love. Furthermore, he doesn't only spell love forwards, but also backwards, up, and down. This, non-linear/non-traditional spelling of love suggests that love is not one thing, but many different things depending on who it is attached to.

    Of course, by crafting this poem in such a way as to not suggest any definitive meaning bpNichol brings forth the idea that love as an objective concept is indefinable.

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  7. A Canadian "love poem" that I seem to keep coming back to is "Blues" by the, previously discussed, late Vancouver-based poet bpNichol. "Blues" could be discussed in both this section and the section concerning concrete poetry; however, I believe it deserves to be discussed here.

    "Blues" implements the concrete/visual style in order to display the erratic and disorienting nature of love. bpNichol intersects the word "love" with itself many times over, which suggests that all love is one, or in the very least that love affects all other love. Furthermore, he doesn't only spell love forwards, but also backwards, up, and down. This, non-linear/non-traditional spelling of love suggests that love is not one thing, but many different things depending on who it is attached to.

    Of course, by crafting this poem in such a way as to not suggest any definitive meaning bpNichol brings forth the idea that love as an objective concept is indefinable.

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  8. These are song lyrics from the song "Francis" (written, performed by one of my favourite artists - the bilingual French-Canadian musician Béatrice Martin, also known as "Cœur de Pirate"). The French lyrics (and English translation) are below:

    ORIGINAL FRENCH
    "Francis, tu as tant de chose à dire
    Mais le tout reste enfermer
    Et quand tu ne sais plus quoi dire
    Tu te mets à pleurer
    Mais ça ton publique le voit pas
    Tu l’incites à rêver, pendant que toi tu le regarde

    Francis, les mots restent bien coincé devant cette fille qui ne demande
    Pas mieux que de se faire aimer
    Toi, tu ne sais pas comme t’y prendre
    Ta gorge resserrer, et ton cœur bat de plus belle
    Alors que tes yeux sont sur elle

    Mais moi, je ne t’oublierai pas et je compte sur toi
    Pour venir en aide
    À ceux qui ressentent pour toi, ce que tu écris dans ces chansons pour elle

    Francis, je m’en vais bientôt et je pense très très fort à toi
    Pendant que mes doigts au piano te jouent tout ce que je te dois
    Et rappelle toi que tu peux avoir le monde à tes pieds
    Si tu ne te laisse pas abattre par ceux qui te laisse de côté

    Et moi, je ne t’oublierai pas et je compte sur toi
    Pour venir en aide
    À ceux qui ressentent pour toi, ce que tu écris dans ces chansons pour elle
    Mais moi, je ne t’oublierai pas et je compte sur toi
    Pour venir en aide
    À ceux qui ressentent pour toi, ce que tu écris dans ces chansons pour elle."

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  9. ENGLISH TRANSLATION:
    "Francis, you have so many things to say
    But all of it remains locked up inside
    And when you no longer know what to say
    You start crying
    But your public doesn't get to see it
    You conduce them to dream, while you look at them

    Francis, the words remain stuck in front of this girl who is quite willing
    To be loved
    You don't go the right way about it
    A lump in your throat, your heart's beating faster and faster
    While your eyes are on her

    But I won't forget you and I trust you
    To help you
    Those who feel for you what you write in your songs for her

    Francis, I'm leaving soon and you're really really in my thoughts
    While my fingers play all that I owe you on the piano
    And remember that you can have the whole world at your feet
    If you don't let those who put you aside bring you down

    But I won't forget you and I trust you
    To help you
    Those who feel for you what you write in your songs for her
    But I won't forget you and I trust you
    To help you
    Those who feel for you what you write in your songs for her."

    You can listen to the lovely song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcVAcnyF7Vc

    *Original French lyrics and English translation courtesy of http://lyricstranslate.com/en/francis-francis.html

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    Replies
    1. This is one of my favourite songs by her! I also like Comme des Enfants, Fondu au Noir, and Ensemble. Happy to know that my French skills haven't deteriorated quite so badly, though I suppose this wasn't a complicated song to translate haha.

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  10. Also, here is one of my favourite poems by Canadian poet Anne Michaels, entitled "Land in Sight":

    Land in Sight

    All day the sky
    whispered into the sea and the sails
    would not fill. On the pier,
    dogs drank the air dry
    with searching tongues.
    We were seared wherever clothes
    revealed us. Down the boulevard,
    shutters clapped loud against the sun.
    Children slipped messages through the slats,
    flecks of paper drifted into the street.

    All through the city love looked for us, through
    the crooked Altrestrasse, under Lenin's balcony,
    past the terrace where Goethe drank his coffee.
    Into cafés where coolness turns its key
    in a shadow. All day love followed us
    as we climbed, from fountain to bridge.
    A gull hovered as if
    broken. All day love drew its finger
    across my belly, ascended my damp spine.
    I kept turning my face
    from its breath.

    The city woke. Dogs unfolded their legs
    and stood. One by one, shutters parted,
    glimpses of voices
    pressed the air.

    The same loneliness that closes us
    opens us again.

    Like hair loosened by the sea,
    slowly the darkness opens into darkness.

    Source: Michaels, Anne. Skin Divers. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Ltd, 1999. 8-9. Print.

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  11. Echolalia - Ian Williams

    Once one gets what one wants
    one no longer wants it.

    One no longer wants what?

    One no longer wants what
    one wanted.

    -

    A man and a woman want a woman and a man
    or a man and a woman depending
    on the man and the woman.

    -

    Once one gets what one wants once
    one no longer wants it once

    then one no longer wants it at all.

    -

    Yes then no. Yes and no? No.
    Yes then no then yes and always
    after yes comes no. Never always
    yes, but always no. Always know
    after yes comes no.

    -

    One wants what one wants
    not what one wanted.

    http://www.poetryinvoice.com/poems/echolalia

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  12. One poem I really enjoyed about love is "Variations on the Word Love" by Margaret Atwood:

    This is a word we use to plug
    holes with. It's the right size for those warm
    blanks in speech, for those red heart-
    shaped vacancies on the page that look nothing
    like real hearts. Add lace
    and you can sell
    it. We insert it also in the one empty
    space on the printed form
    that comes with no instructions. There are whole
    magazines with not much in them
    but the word love, you can
    rub it all over your body and you
    can cook with it too. How do we know
    it isn't what goes on at the cool
    debaucheries of slugs under damp
    pieces of cardboard? As for the weed-
    seedlings nosing their tough snouts up
    among the lettuces, they shout it.
    Love! Love! sing the soldiers, raising
    their glittering knives in salute.

    Then there's the two
    of us. This word
    is far too short for us, it has only
    four letters, too sparse
    to fill those deep bare
    vacuums between the stars
    that press on us with their deafness.
    It's not love we don't wish
    to fall into, but that fear.
    this word is not enough but it will
    have to do. It's a single
    vowel in this metallic
    silence, a mouth that says
    O again and again in wonder
    and pain, a breath, a finger
    grip on a cliffside. You can
    hold on or let go.

    In this poem the speaker explains how the word is overused nowadays and something as true as "love" takes more than just a four letter word to explain it. The first stanza explains how the word itself is being overused and sold nowadays whereas the second stanza explains the feeling of love. You will often hear others say things such as "Oh, I love that show it's hilarious" or, "I love that girl she is too kind" but they aren't usually saying this from the bottom of their heart. People will often use this word just to show a fondness of something but what Atwood is trying to explain in this poem is that "Love" is more than that and that there is no universal definition of it. Everyone will experience love differently and deal with it differently because love is complex.

    I really enjoyed this poem because it reminds us that our overuse of the word "Love" is forcing the word to lose meaning and even making us lower our expectations of it. If we are truly in love, it is hard for a single four-letter word to explain every part of it because there is so much more to it which is why this poem has become so important to me. In a time where divorces are seen as common and individuals are "falling in love" every so often, it is important to take some time to realize that love is not simple but it is complex. If we stop overusing this term and attaching expectations to this word to return it to its rightful meaning, maybe we will be able to realize what love truly is.

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  13. Both my fiancé’s and my favourite artist just so happens to be Canadian. Dallas Green is the musician behind City and Colour. Since he is the sole member, he is the vocals, guitarist, composer, and song writer. Dallas has written many love songs, some filled with love and desire, others with sorrow. This song, “Northern Wind”, is one of our favourites. I thought it also nicely describes Canada in the process.

    “Northern Wind” by Dallas Green

    You're the Northern Wind
    Sending shivers down my spine
    You're like falling leaves
    In an autumn night

    You're the lullaby
    That's singing me to sleep
    You are the other half
    You're like the missing piece

    Oh my love
    Oh my love
    Oh my love
    You don't know
    What you do to me,
    On me

    You are all four seasons
    Rolled into one
    Like the cold December snow
    In the warm July sun

    I'm the jet black sky
    That's just before the rain
    Like the mighty current
    Pulling you under the waves

    Oh my love
    Oh my love
    Oh my love
    You don't know what you do to me
    To me
    I'm the darkest hour
    Just before the dawn
    And I'm slowly sinking
    Into the slough of despond

    Like an old guitar
    Worn out and left behind
    I have stories still to tell
    They're of the healing kind

    Oh my love
    Oh my love
    Oh my love
    If I could just
    Find you tonight
    If I could just find you tonight
    Oh my love

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  14. I SHOUT LOVE
    Milton Acorn

    I shout love in a blizzard's
    scarf of curling cold,
    for my heart's a furred sharp-toothed thing
    that rushes out whimpering
    when pain cries the sign writ on it.

    I shout love into your pain
    when skies crack and fall
    like slivers of mirrors,
    and rounded fingers, blued as a great rake,
    pluck the balled yarn of your brain.

    I shout love at petals peeled open
    by stern nurse fusion-bomb sun,
    terribly like an adhesive bandage,
    for love and pain, love and pain
    are companions in this age.

    June, 1958.
    This poem is a little too negative on the idea of love for it to really be appropriate for valentines day—the “love is pain” idea tends to be a real turn off for most significant others on Valentines Day. But there’s something nice about it. The images are sharp, lyrical, and effective. I am left wondering just what happened to this pour soul for him to think in such a way.

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    Replies
    1. This poem by Milton Acorn has a melancholy mood to it. The speaker in the poem is shouting his love to his loved ones. However, there is also the hurt that no matter how many times he shouts of his love, his loved ones could never hear him. The pain of his love not being heard leads the writer to view love and pain as companions. With love brings pain and with no pain there is also no love. Thus, this poem describes love in an alternative way. By describing love as pain, the writer is able to portray love as yearning to be with the person you love. Although the poem is not a typical poem that you would share on Valentines Day, I think this poem resonates to the readers in a way. I think that the idea of loving so much that it brings you pain that you can't be with them could also be considered romantic in a different sort of way.

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  15. To draw from a slightly less romantic idea of the word love, here's a list of the Globe and Mail's 147 reasons to love Canada! While certainly not the Valentines kind of love, I think these do a good job of relating to our course theme of identity! They're submitted by readers and each one has a little blurb attached so they're actually quite good! Here are a couple that stood out to me as best identifying with the themes of our course!

    "8. ‘We’re building a country together’

    I was to address the student assembly at Gordon Bell High School in Winnipeg. As I walked into the gym, I suddenly realized that I was walking by a 10-person, all-female, aboriginal group of drummers – and they were terrific.

    After I listened to them for a while, I turned to go toward the mic and, all of a sudden, there was this tremendous crash and at the other end of the gym there was about a 20-person African drumming group – and they started to play and they were equally wonderful to listen to.

    Then I realized that the two bands were playing in sync and off each other, and it hit me so hard, I could hardly speak. What a wonderful, wonderful sound this was – and what a wonderful picture it was of Canada. When I got up to the mic to speak, I could hardly get it out, I was just so touched."

    "29. We care

    I love how Canadians care about the world around them. From the @LuckyIronFish project to @WorldUniService student-refugee program, Canadians make a difference.

    – David J. Hornsby, senior lecturer in international relations at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa

    I have lived outside Canada for over a decade, but my country is still a reference for me. It is like a large thought, a place of common sense and intelligence in a dangerous and confused world. I work in international relations and diplomacy and, when I witness chaos and conflict, I bring to mind a quote by Pierre Elliott Trudeau:

    “As against the ‘invisible hand’ of Adam Smith, there has to be a visible hand of politicians whose objective is to have the kind of society that is caring and humane.”

    Fewer and fewer politicians enact this around the world, including in our country. Yet, our reputation in the world remains surprisingly positive because of this basic unstated perception. The idea is engrained in me, no matter where I live or travel, as much as my eternal wish that the Montreal Canadiens will again win the Stanley Cup.

    – John Bell, former United Nations and Canadian diplomat and director of the Middle East program at the Toledo International Centre for Peace in Madrid"

    And finally for the lovebirds:

    "11. It’s where we fall in love

    Childhood is a country one never leaves. It’s our first country, that we hold inside us the rest of our lives. This small poem evokes the summer when I was 8 on the banks of the Lorette River in Quebec. It’s probably the most beautiful river in Canada, because it’s the one where I played in my childhood. At 8, one can fall in love. My little neighbour, Nathalie (who lived in the cottage next door to my parents) was the same age. One day, as we were playing the woods, she came close to me and put a quick kiss on my lips. It was my first kiss, and tasted of candy. Of course, afterward we kept on playing because, at 8, it’s important to live in the world of our games.

    “I remember her face / from the first forest / hidden in childhood / and her daisy lips / moving toward the unknown / can you imagine a light lovelier / than the long, long time / climbing to the self / and memory / building itself a nest / for the possible next day / because wind blows through memories/ a wind of clearing and girl / lost in the woods of origins”

    – Michel Pleau, Canada’s parliamentary poet laureate"

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