WORDS

13 Mar

Stendhalimage

Delicate minds have a strong bent for curiosity and prejudice; we can see this above all in souls whose sacred fire is extinguished, the source of their passions burnt out: it is one of the most damaging symptoms. Schoolboys just entering the adult world also suffer infatuations. At the two extremes with either too much or too little sensitivity, it is not easy to feel the duel effects of things, or experience the sensation they ought to give. Inflamed souls or those only occasionally ardent, professing love on credit, if I may put it so, throw themselves on the object of love rather than waiting.

Before the beloved’s own characteristics can affect them, before even seeing them, these misguided souls smother the true person in an imaginary charm drawn from their own inexhaustible source. Then, as they become closer, they see their darling not as they are but as they have made them and, while believing they take great delight in their loved one, they are simply delighting in their own conceptions. One fine day, however, weary of doing all the work, they discover that the object of their adoration is not returning the ball; the infatuation drops away and the blow to their self-esteem makes them unjust towards the person they once idolised.

XXII: Infatuation.
On Love
Stendhal

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