Quote Of The Day: Love And Romance

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Quote Of The Day #69

I am glad that I paid so little attention to good advice; had I abided by it I might have been saved from some of my most valuable mistakes.

I am most faithless when I most am true. After all’s said after all’s done, what should I be but a harlot and a nun.

One thing there’s no getting by—
I’ve been a wicked girl.” said I;
“But if I can’t be sorry, why,
I might as well be glad!

I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

Ever since I read “Nomenclature” by Dionne Brand, my reading is completely ruined. Last weekend, I tried to read something, but nothing gave me pleasure anymore. Just like Dionne said, I wrapped myself in a “thought prison” and things I read only reinforce this “thought prison” and make beautiful echo of it.

One book I picked up last weekend was a biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay, which I read a while ago–only 160 pages and no more. I opened to the page where I left off, but something just hit me–“It is a depressing book. How come I didn’t realize it before?” This book pretends to be a positive book, pretends to be about “facts” since it’s a biography, pretends to be singing praises of a female poet, but what it tries to do is very didactic, scolding, and reproachful. The fact that it is very well written makes it even more disingenuous since people tend to like well written books more and even trust well written books more. Probably the author of this book didn’t realize that he was writing a depressing book–he thinks he is writing a wholesome, healthy, fact-based book. He just did what he was taught to do and he didn’t realize that he was saying something that is … skewed and biased.

Of course the whole book is written in a very polite and positive way, but the hidden message is … not so positive and not so polite. For example, Edna’s love affairs are described one by one, and unfortunately for the author, Edna’s love affairs just didn’t conform to the human ideal of an unattached girl meeting an unattached boy, and living happily ever after. The author chastised Edna on almost every page and it was agonizing to read. I mean I felt the author’s agony. Why couldn’t he write about somebody he truly admires? I just don’t understand why I didn’t see this before. I should have seen it, and I think I saw it, but I accepted it as something normal. I think I learned to turn a blind eye to this abnormality and internalize it as something normal.

Edna had her first love affair when she was in high school. She was a participant of a poetry competition. After submitting her poems, she started to exchange letters with Mitchell Kennerley, a middle -aged magazine editor, who was one of the judges of the competition. Soon their letters turn into love letters. Needless to say, Mitchell Kennerley’s wife discovered the long distance “affair”, and she made sure that Edna didn’t get the poetry award that she deserved. Well, the author of the biography took the chance to scold Edna in a polite veiled way. And he considered that she deserved to be a loser in the competition. Well, I concur. She deserved her fate and she’s a bad girl. However why was the magazine editor off the hook? I thought the editor was at least as bad as Edna, and if the author of the biography really wanted to uphold the contemporary values (the biography was published twenty years ago), he should at least say something about the editor “preying on teenage girls”. I don’t really believe any “preying” is applicable here, but if the author of the biography thought Edna was guilty, he should think that the editor was equally guilty. That would be fair, don’t you think?

Edna’s second affair was with Arthur Hooley, an Englishman living in New York, a bachelor and a writer. Arthur was rumored to be a gay, but Edna didn’t believe it, or probably didn’t want to believe it. The fact that Arthur Hooley played cool and indifferent made Edna chase after him more. One day she stood outside of his apartment the whole night without knocking on his door. Me Too. I had similar experiences. Actually a lot of women have had similar experiences. Actually a lot of men have had similar experiences. Actually many people who have had unrequited loves have had similar experiences. It sounds like a rite of passage of experiencing love as a human. And to this affair, the author of the biography thought Edna deserved her broken heart. And Arthur Hooley was not to blame. Really? I disagree. I think it was very possible that Arthur Hooley egged Edna on while simultaneously keeping her in a distance–a beautiful woman like Edna chasing after him would give him an aura of power and mystery, don’t you think?

The third love affair was with Salomon de la Selva, a Latin America poet. It was the only affair that the biography author didn’t scold Edna. Salomon was not her type, as if that was enough an explanation.

And another affair was with Jim Lawyer, an engineer who came to New York City regularly on business. Edna and Jim had a six month affair whenever he came to New York. The biography author put 100% of blame on Edna, which I just couldn’t buy it. I mean Edna and Jim were both guilty. How could he let Jim off the hook? I really don’t understand the author’s rationale. The biography author seemed to think that Jim was the victim in this love affair. Why? How so? Jim’s boss sent Jim a letter scolding his behavior, and Jim’s wife tried to kill herself by swallowing illegally bootlegged liquor. And because of these repercussions, poor Jim was considered by the author as a victim rather than a perpetrator. I just couldn’t believe my eyes. What kind of rationale or logic can make Jim a poor victim? I just don’t see it. I think that Edna was a bad girl, and Jim was a bad boy. Just be fair. The author’s thinly veiled view that Edna was a bad girl and Jim was a fallen hero or victim just made me quite uncomfortable.

Books like this one make me feel bad, and I should get rid of negativity like this from my life. It seeps into me quietly and saps my spirit. And there are a lot of books like this one, pretending to be empirical and verifiable, but in reality sending biased messages to make people feel that our world is unjust, and our life is hopeless. Actually life is hopeful with resources we can explore. It is the interpretation of life by people with narrow views that can make us feel small.

8 thoughts on “Quote Of The Day: Love And Romance

  1. I love that you share the personal thoughts these books evoked in you and your overall thoughts on how indeed some writing introduces negativity into our lives. The written word is powerful! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! That is a depressing book indeed. I don’t know about Edna, but someone who is older, has a position of authority, and is in a relationship with someone else is always at greater fault. How can he not criticize the judge who preyed upon – perhaps even groomed – a teenager? A poet showing interest in her work and mentoring her? Even if he didn’t start the change in their correspondence towards love, he should have discouraged it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I agree. This was before the WWII, and the standards were different then. Also Edna was certainly not the “good girl” type. She had lovers and people dislike her for that. The biography author thinks Edna was in the wrong for all her love affairs. LOL. It is a little biased but I guess I know why he thinks the way he does.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What an incredibly thought provoking take on a few books and a great point made. The world can indeed be hopeful and in fact if we have no hope why do we hang around. Sad story about the person trying to commit suicide with boot leg booze. Nice piece, thank you very much for sharing and pleasings and hugs to you. Joni

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for visiting and commenting. Love your sweet words, always. You have brightened my day by your encouraging words and sweet hugs. All the best to you, Joni.


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