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retread| Love and Freedom 22 April 2006

Posted by EDITOR in Culture, Relationships, Reviews, VARANGALI.
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Retreads are quality posts from yesterweeks that are given a second run on Saturdays. This piece was posted by VARANGALI on 18 January 2006.

In The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom famously asked if what Romeo and Juliet had was a relationship. In an age where the laboratory is the temple and scientists the high priests, it is only logical that love, too, be clinical. Yet Bloom’s question cannot be thus summarily dismissed. We yearn for such a time when love was indescribable, and could be at best alluded to in poetry.

In Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence, Newland Archer, the protagonist, contrasts his own failed attempt to break custom for love in his youth to his son’s ease in accomplishing the same now:

The difference is that these young people take it for granted that they’re going to get whatever they want, and that we almost always took it for granted that we shouldn’t. Only, I wonder – the thing one’s so certain of in advance: can it ever make one’s heart beat as wildly?

It is instructive to remember that before Juliet, Romeo was smitten by Rosalind. Were Juliet not a Capulet – and therefore untouchable – would Romeo have treated Juliet as he did Rosalind, a passing fancy? Perhaps Newland Archer is right: what we yearn for is not a time of indescribable love, but a time of structure and custom that made something as amorphous as love dangerous. Perhaps in our pursuit of unbridled freedom we have lost our very appreciation for it.

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