Alain de Botton on Romanticism – Free Ebook

thank you thank you so much what a pleasure to be back in Australia to be back at the opera house thank you so much for coming out tonight as Anne’s just said I’ve written a novel but I don’t want to talk particularly specifically about the novel please buy it after if you feel inclined but what I really want to do is to talk about some of the ideas behind the novel and sometimes people say to me you know what why did you even bother to write a novel I thought you were supposed to be a non fiction writer and the reason I wrote a novel is that I believe that many of our ideas on love come from reading novels also songs films etc but essentially we are very shaped by the love narratives that we read and this could seem a little cruel we tend to think that we love spontaneously that we’re not influenced by what we read and by what we see but I think that we are we love within a very historical social context as that lovely biting aphorism from La Rochefoucauld he says there are some people who would never have fallen in love if they hadn’t heard there was such a thing that’s a little extreme but you get the idea that really when we love we are taking a lot of our cues from the outside world we honor certain feelings that we experience because other people are telling us to honor them we suppress other feelings because people have told us not to pay them particular attention now we are nowadays firmly in a very distinctive era in the history of love we are living in the era of Romanticism romanticism is an intellectual movement that began in the souls studies Garrett’s of European poets novelists writers in the end middle end of the 18th century and nowadays even if you’ve never heard of a single Romantic poet or novelist from any Garret in Old Europe and you’re just having your love life here in Sydney you are influenced because we all are by Romanticism so whether you can’t whether you don’t necessarily know about it or feel it or touch it it is all around us in the ether we are living ladies gentlemen in the era of Romanticism now what does romanticism tell us about love it has a very distinctive set of arguments about what love is like what we should expect from love and how relationships should go and let me run you through a few of those romantic assumptions I think the first and most central assumption is that for all of us out there there is most definitely a soul mate we may not have met them already we may be swiping left right furiously in order to try and locate them they exist and eventually we keep going hard enough we will find them and when we find them our soul will fuse with theirs all areas that had previously been confused and lonely will be redeemed we will no longer feel ourselves wordless agonized melancholic before the mysteries of existence we have found a true friend and loneliness will be banished this later judgment is the person waiting for us somewhere out there the soulmate how are we going to find this person well big question the dominant answer of romanticism is by instinct you know for most of history the way that people were matched up was by the elders of the community by parents by other people than the couple themselves they was it was what was known as a marriage of reason and there were reasonable criteria so-called reasonable criteria which is maybe that you had a goat and they had a sheep or you had a plot of land and they had a blood adjoining plot of land or whatever it was and it was on that basis that these so-called dynastic marriages were made and that was the way in which people married have married for thousands of years really since the beginning of time but along comes romanticism and says no we’re going to marry in a different way we are going to marry by instinct and the instinct is that somewhere along the line you will feel a special feeling very very special feeling inside a kind of excitement and you don’t know when it will strike you maybe you’re at the bar maybe you’re at the swimming pool maybe you’re just waiting in line for something but you’ll spot somebody and without necessarily knowing too much about them niether romantics were quite keen on it happening without knowing anything them other than simply seeing their face you will know that’s your soulmate and so that special feeling has become venerated and whoever saw you don’t question that special feeling so if you said your parents I’ve met somebody and they go right tell me but you just say I’ve had that special feeling and everyone just you know the waters part and the couple moves forward because there’s been that special feeling so once the special feeling is announced you know you raise the flag the special feeling has happened and that’s terrific what if you don’t feel that special feeling it’s a bit a little bit embarrassing something wrong with me etc so you may start to fake the special feeling kind of like someone being fake that you’ve had this romantic special feeling and so romanticism is very into the notion of the crush and the immediate sensation of certainty that you have met someone very special romanticism goes hand-in-hand with the developments of the railways in Europe in the 19th century and an awful lot of these meetings happen on trains in fiction even in Russian fiction alone you could build a library of stories in which the hero and heroine meet on a train and without much knowledge as I say just the sight maybe of an ankle and elbow curvature of a cheek you will know that’s a soul mate and that’s how it it begins so that’s how the that’s how you’re going to find your life partner the romantics are very keen on the notion of happily ever after that love is not just a passing phase it is forever till death do us part strikingly many of the romantics died quite young and so often the story begins couple fall madly in love and some with a little coffin of tuberculosis and hooker and it’s you know it’s beautiful love story but it does end after a few months but nevertheless it’s forever in innocence and romantics also very keen on suicide ending things dramatically so death has a curious relationship with love in the romantic point of view the other essential thing about the romantics is that generally no one really has a job none of the romantics really have jobs so they can devote a lot of time to love and they’re spending a lot of time just in each other’s arms and also going for walks nature is incredibly important for the romantics going out into nature for long long walks very particular places waterfalls very romantic place also places where the ocean meets the land dramatic cliffs pounding of seas very quintessentially romantic places romantic times of day dusk is a quiz essentially romantic time especially when you know you’ve got a layer of clouds and the underside of the clouds are lit up by the shaft of the dying Sun turning the sky a purpley pinky hue very romantic sort of moment a moment to enforce love through the help of of nature the romantics have a very distinctive take on sex people obviously been having sex for all of human history and there’s been some love but what the romantics do is a remarkable fusion of love and sex they basically consecrate sex as the summit of love and the ultimate expression of love so far from being Milly a mechanical action it becomes this most sincere expression of your feelings for another person almost divine expression of tenderness for another person very beautiful it has a slight drawback which is that it turns adultery into a tragedy a catastrophe because if you believe as the romantics do that lot that sex is the crowning expression of love then any interest outside of the couple will be catastrophic in nature and that’s why almost every great novel of the 19th century in Europe is about adultery in one form or another starting with flow bears Madame Bovary moving on to Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and on and on people have been having adultery for all of human history it’s been happening all the time but what’s new is the weight that’s put on it and as I say it is a violation of everything that the romantics believe that love is now I should say that many of these romantic ideas are very beautiful they’re very exciting and we all live through them and it would be naive to some way dismiss them as irrelevant to the way we live they are everywhere and they are at the center of how we approach love but I also want to insist that romanticism has been a catastrophe for our capacity to have good long-term relationships and if we want to have a chance of succeeding at love we will have to be disloyal to many of the romantic emotions that got us into relationships in the first place romanticism has spelt trouble for our capacity to endure and thrive in long-term relationships why do I say that well let me run you through a few of the areas that I believe that romanticism has spelt difficulty for us in relationships so romanticism replaced an earlier vision of human nature which tended to stress how fragile broken and very sinful we all were an old Christian idea and romanticism comes along and dismisses this attitude as hopelessly pessimistic and insists instead on the purity and good nature of every human being for the romantic the romantic space an awful emphasis at of a lot of emphasis on children and children for the romantics are always good they’re always sweet it begins with jean-jacques Rousseau in the mid 18th century the child is the purest expression of humankind and the only thing that makes a child bad is societies only society corrupts children but basically it’s a sign that we are born good and the older view which was associated with Christian theologians like st. Augustine which stressed the fundamental sinfulness you know st. Augustine argued that all of us bear within us the original sin of Adam and therefore all of us is good to speak like this at a pulpit to an audience but but all of us all of us are sinners or potential sinners and therefore need to be at the mercy of others and of the divine in order I’m a secular Jew but the divine in order to to enjoy life now I racism does away with it and says to us that all of us are angelic by Nature the interesting thing is that romanticism coincides with the decline in organized religion but just as religion is declining romanticism Rises and is in many ways a replacement a secular alternative so when we get together in love you know what’s fascinating is the use the beginning of the use of the word angel to refer not to those winged creatures up in the sky but to refer to other human beings and there’s a marked increase of this in the age of Romanticism and nowadays of course many of us will cheerfully call our partner angel so we are all of us in a sense in through the lens of Romanticism good people our wings have been temporarily put aside but essentially we’re pretty perfect people not particularly tainted by original sin now I think this is highly troubling for relationships because it leads to that absolute problematic dynamic within any relationship which is self-righteousness if you think that you’re quite perfect and that your partner is quite perfect – that’s trouble anyway and if you start a relationship you’ll soon start hitting upon things which will lead you to think but actually maybe they’re not that perfect now what do you do with that feeling if you’re operating against an ideology that says that everyone and it your partner particularly is by nature good very unhelpful backdrop in which to negotiate the troubles of relationships it’s far better I believe to insist that all of us are in various ways deeply and I don’t mean this in any way in an insult deeply crazy I may not know I may not know exactly how you’re crazy I can tell you later how I’m crazy I won’t well I might um but but basically all of us you know none of us get through the gauntlet of early childhood adolescence etc with our sanity entirely intact we are all of us warped distorted in very distinctive ways it may take us 50 years to work out exactly how we’re distorted but we are distorted and this is a fundamental piece of knowledge which we should be taking with us into relationships with a big warning sign over us now why are we so unable to conceive of ourselves as damaged and crazy and therefore so prone to self righteousness well part of the problem is that all of us have very low levels of self-knowledge and self-knowledge is really really hard to come by part because there’s almost a conspiracy of silence around us people don’t quite tell us what they think of us and therefore we go through life where the average person who’s met us for 20 minutes has a deeper insight into many of our flaws than we might achieve over a lifetime why why don’t people tell us this well there’s really no motive for them to tell us this at many stages our parents are not going to tell us certain things that they know they can see things about us but they’re not going to tell us because they’re very kind they wish us well it’s really their business they’re not going to go into it and maybe they’re blinded by their own affection for us and there’s our friends but of course our friends are not going to tell us certain things about our characters the ways in which we’re difficult in particular because all they really want from us is a pleasant evening out they just they don’t care they don’t you really have to care about someone to be bothered to go into all that stuff about their true character and our friends so you know they can’t be bothered they don’t they don’t like us enough so it leaves then that other category our exes well our exes you could expect that they will somewhere along the lines have have told us but the thing on the whole it’s not really worth their while either and so they tend to take their leave by saying things like they need to spend more time on that bone they need to develop that character they’d like to go travelling nonsense of course not they see certain things about you but again they’re not going to go through it they can’t be bothered they just want out let somebody else sort that out so so so the thing is that we we go through life not really knowing I mean it’s very tender and poignant how sometimes some of us feel but with some of you in the audience feel that broadly speaking you’re quite easy to live with I mean does anyone is anyone here think that there can’t broadly speaking easily with if only they met the right person like there are a few people a few people you know that’s that’s a very poignant combination whereby a very romantic combination I spent my early twenties absolutely convinced the only thing that was missing was really the right person as long as I met the right person then all would would be well so this notion that we might be easy to live with is a deeply misleading and should be stamped out of course we’re not everybody from close up is trouble and we need we need we need to put this in mind bear this in mind if I was running the world one of the key questions that we would always ask each other on an early dinner date without anything pejorative being meant by it is how are you crazy so I’m I’m crazy like this how about you and that we’d be expected to have a really thoughtful and kind of well thought through non defensive non hysterical answer to that question to be able to share with another person think how much time we would say we don’t need people in relationships to be perfect we need them to have a handle on their imperfections and to be able to warn us and prepare us for the more noxious sides of their personalities outside of those critical moments when those personality distortions have deeply upset us but it’s very hard to do and most of the time we come upon discoveries about other people at moments when those discoveries have pained us deeply and therefore we are not likely to be in any way sympathetic so the calm explanation of one’s insanities to another person is one of the greatest gifts and I think one of the best wedding presents that any of us could but give one another is a large book call you know my insanities that you would give each person would give my insanities to to their partner and think how much time I think we would we would say you know the other thing that romanticism really gets wrong is this this emphasis on instinct right so you know the old marriage marriage of reason marriage by the family etc and then you know the romantics tell us there’s this marriage by instinct that special feeling well the thing about it is that you know you don’t need to accept or even know much about psychoanalysis and psychotherapy to just take on board the one key central idea of psychotherapy which is the way that we love as adults is a reflection and deeply connected to the way that we learnt about love as children that is the foundation stone of psychotherapy so you look at an addict you look at how you are in adult relationships and there are million connections that you can make with how we learnt about love as children and the problem with this is that the way that we learnt about love as children is likely to have been a bit problematic it’s likely that we received affection certainly but that in one way or another without necessarily meaning to our parents did us a great disservice in some ways they damaged us without necessarily meaning to and this has very particular consequences for our capacity to find love as adults because often what we’re trying to do in adult love is refined a kind of love that we knew as children but the kind of love that we knew as children was not necessarily problem-free indeed it was very particularly and interestingly distorted and laden with all sorts of difficulties and these become the new criteria which we search for in our adult partners so when people say that in love what they’re looking for is someone to make them happy to make them content to bring them happiness we can’t necessarily believe them really what we’re searching for when we search for an adult partner is someone who feels familiar and very often the kind of people that we meet don’t feel familiar in the level of care generosity and good that they’re bringing to us it just feels a little bit odd we think I don’t necessarily feel at home with this kind of treatment you know how it is when you sometimes set up a friend and on paper you know two people are completely perfect you know the two CVS match exactly and you set them up and then you know you have hopeful expectations for the date and then they come back to you and you say you know how did it go how did the date go and they say I don’t know you know they’re really nice I just you know we got so much in common in a way or our interest we do all the same sports and with the same book cetera but I don’t know something was missing and chemistry something and very often the thing is that our unconscious has recognized that this circle very nice person is perfect except for they won’t make us suffer in way in the way that we expect to be made to suffer in love so they’ve got to be dismissed they’re just not going to make me unhappy in the way that I’ve learned to expect that love should make me unhappy and you know we know the situation in its most extreme forms you know somebody who can only take someone who will hit them who will strike them but even without the extremes of violence there are many ways in which we are attractive to people not so much for their positive size but because they feel as I say familiar in the degree to which they will frustrate certain of our aspirations for ourselves um there’s another problem for with you know with romanticism and that’s really to do with the idea of honesty you know romanticism had an extremely high regard for the concept of honesty and that a relationship the whole point of relationship is that you can be honest with another human being most of the time we’ve got a lie all the time about who we are what we feel how are you I’m fine we were breaking down inside etc you know we’re all in tears inside we’re broken we’ve got to put up a front that’s what society demands of us but finally we can meet someone and with them the drawbridge can come down the walls can come down and we can be ourselves and there are wonderful moments in the early moments of love in the early phase of love when we really do feel that we have found someone who can accept all of us and take on board everything that we are we need to have no more secrets we can be properly ourselves and the truth is that being yourself fully yourself around another human being is it treat that you should probably spare anyone that you claim to laugh because it’s really a little problematic now often it goes a bit like this you know that there’s look let’s be honest I think no kids in the room often it’s a little bit around sex so in the early days of love you know you’ve been a bit lonely in all areas including sex and you meet somebody and and you say you know do you like you know that thing that you you could do like with a rope and like hang tough so like imagine if do have you ever been interested and they go wow yeah I’ve always wanted to try that and that’s always but I’ve never dared tell anyone and there’s that wonderful sense of intimacy based on their no longer needing to be shamed we no longer need to be ashamed of ourselves we can be ourselves in the bedroom etc and this is a very ecstatic discovery and it really makes us feel so powerful in the world because we no longer have to be a hunched hunched back figure we can now go out into the world and and feel that some of our darkest secrets have acceptance an endorsement from another human being this lovely phase tends to last about three months until until normally the moment goes like this the same for everybody but a version of this tends to happen so you’ve been sharing everything you’ve been sharing that you know the thing and the thing and the hand coupler and it’s all be fun and then you’re sitting in a cafe with you know with your with your lover with whom you’ve opened your soul and they’ve opened their soul and you spot a really quite interesting member of the waiting team and you go she the waiter over there like would it be fun if like you know the thing with the you know thing that we I do much like if they got involved we asked them to get involved and like a number and they could come and then you got watching and then and then you turn to your partner and rather than being this kind of open giveth they actually look in quite a big state of distress they look kind of kind of unhappy and miserable and you go wow wow I better stop right there and you’re at a fork in the road and one fork in the road leads to the path of honesty another path leads to the path of love you’ve got a choice to make you’ve got a choice to make are you going to carry on this anecdote this this fantasy or are you just going to shut up and most of us are going to shut up at that point and that’s the beginning of a very fundamental moment when we realize of course we cannot be entirely ourselves not because we’re trying to retain a nasty secret from our partner but because in the name of love we cannot be entirely ourselves we have to accept the role of editing because the full disclosure of who we are and what we are at every moment to another human being will probably destroy them and therefore we need in the name of love to hold back and to edit a lot none of this romanticism prepares us for indeed it makes it look like a betrayal so it sets up a huge it’s a very very unhelpful backdrop in which this scenario happens because romanticism insists on authenticity it’s by being totally authentic that you are true to love anything else is a betrayal of love and well the facts on the ground are seriously I believe in conflict with that romantic commandment and cause us a lot of difficulties I’m not through with my reservations about Romanticism another thing about romanticism that never really tells talks about is romanticism never really talks about the practical side of life in the nineteenth century no one no romantic poet writer artist etcetera ever mentions laundry nothing there’s an absolutely no mention of the fact that every couple who’s been together any amount of time will have to spend a lot of time doing laundry housework raising children is that this just goes unmentioned and this causes us real difficulties because it sets up an expectation that you know intelligent sensitive soulful people don’t really bother about these things and therefore that there’s no particular emphasis on making an accommodation a preparation for some of the difficulties that might come in this area so at some point in a relationship a version of this happens this kind of scenario happens not exactly this but a version of this happens which is that a couple who you know very much committed to laugh and you know disagree with their parents and some of their more petty attitudes to things like you know etc where the salt and pepper should go and etc they they will certainly have an argument in the bathroom that goes a bit like this one of the couples will say what’s that towel doing there and the other person goes I just I just have a shower yeah but what’s it doing on the floor and go yeah well I just threw it on the floor because I got to go and meet bill and you’re good no I know you gotta meet bill what’s it doing on the floor and and and the other one goes well had you mean what’s it done the floors just on the floor and suddenly there’s a kind of new tone of impatience basically because both partners think that they’ve very clever and and they’re very little petty little doesn’t argue about petty things like towels on the floor that again they associated with a grandparent doesn’t mean you don’t you know if your true romantic you don’t worry about these things you know make no accommodations you are too clever to have this sort of argument and when two people are convinced that they’re too clever to have this sort of argument you know the argument will be bitter and and and so very often there is no accommodation with this sort this aspect of life you know think of poor Madame Bovary in flow bears novel Madame Bovary has been brought up in ideas of love drawn from romantic fiction so she believes that love is all about guys on horseback and castles and walked through the mists etc and then she gets married to this quite nice but a pretty ordinary regular kind of guy but on the whole okay and suddenly she realizes that a lot of her time has got to be spent doing the laundry organising the milk and the cheese and sitting down with her husband while he’s doing the accounts and she’s supposed to be organizing the kind of domestic rota in the evenings and he’s reading the newspaper and she thinks that her life has gone terribly wrong that it’s a disaster what has happened she thought that she was marrying for love and now she’s ended up with this kind of domestic situation and these doubts unleash a series of processes in her mind which will lead eventually to her suicide and death that essentially the belief that the practical side of life has no place in a good love life is central to Romanticism and a disaster for our chances of love so towels more on that in a minute the other thing the other thing that the romantics very much believe is the romantics believe that you shouldn’t necessarily talk too much to your lover and that too King is often the sign of not really understanding somebody so very privileged space is given in romanticism to that account that we sometimes get at the beginning of relationships that two people have understood one another without needing to talk all the time so people will say things like you know it’s amazing you know we were there we were by the waterfront we were chatting and then you know sometimes we were just quiet because we just understood we just we just knew you know I would say one thing it was amazing he knew you know he’d been there before she understood she it’s like we had traveled immediately down the same path we don’t need to explain ourselves in the way that I had to in that horrible last relationship in this one I just I could be myself and we’re a bit we’re a bit wordless and the romantics generally believe that too much analysis too much putting of words on top of feelings is a bad thing a quintessential romantic belief is that you destroy feelings and emotions by thinking too much about them I don’t if anybody in the audience feels some people feel this that if you think too much you break things that they’re thinking too much is I should have weeded those are people out but there may a few people who have come here nevertheless this is a disaster for a philosopher like what hang on nevertheless there are people radix I’m being nasty but look we’ve all will have that feeling sometimes that words can can break things now and so in a way one of the nicest stories of laughs that romantics tell us is intuitive understanding of one person by another without the medium of words again over the long term a catastrophe short term charming long term catastrophe one of the things that it leads to is an outbreak of sulking romanticism was responsible for a worldwide enormous increase in the prevalence of sulks now what what is a sulk a sulk is a feeling of hurt with another person a wound that the other person has given you that you are not going to explain to them for the simple reason that they’re supposed to love you and if they love you they’re supposed to know so of course you could explain what’s wrong with you but if you had to explain that would be a proof they didn’t love you because love is by its nature wordless true love is wordless and that’s why let’s say you coming back from the party where that offensive thing happened and you’re kind of silent in the car deliberately you’re not going to say what happened because you’re a romantic and they should know and they say maybe they’re making a few attempts and they go look is anything wrong nope and then to me you go up you know you go up the stairs you get you go home you go to your apartment and they say you know come come in the bedroom and you go no and you go to the bathroom you bolt the door and they say come on it’s rigours and they’re knocking come on just tell me what it is and you have and the reason is the reason is that as a romantic you believe that a true lover should be able to intuit the contents of your soul through the bathroom paneled or through the surface of your body and into your interior and they should know so why would you ever bother telling them so this is a disaster because unfortunately even the most well-meaning people simply cannot understand all of us they can understand bits of us how we felt maybe when we were humiliated by our father an early age or how it felt to join a new school at a certain point where some things they can just get but a lot of things particularly over the long term just no one can get you cannot expect the other person to be a mind reader and yet romanticism places the ability to mind-read precisely at the kernel of its vision the core of its vision of love deeply problematic deeply problematic here’s another thing that romanticism talks to us about it talks to us about the way in which when you really love somebody you love everything about them of course you love the amazing things about them but but oddly and touchingly you quite love two slightly imperfect things about them and that’s why in the early days of love there’s a lot of kind of tenderness and excitement around the discovery of the less than perfect sides of somebody that I use that feed into love and that intensify love maybe your partner’s got a slight gap between their two front teeth not a problem I mean a problem for an orthodontist but for you is charming it’s charming maybe there’s that old pair of pajamas that their mother gave them and they put it on on a cold nights and it’s got bear prints on it it doesn’t look that glamorous it wouldn’t win any fashion awards but it’s them and it’s theirs and it’s incredibly sweet and you love them all the more for it so in a way in the early days of love the fragilities and vulnerabilities of another person are part of what makes that person so loveable until you’re getting the hang of this now until maybe about three months in a version of the following scenario happens so maybe you’ve been out for a big night etc and it’s a morning it’s dawn and you having some breakfast and you’re having some cereal maybe they picked out a kind of granola Ridge sort of quite nutty kind of cereal and then next to you and they’re eating that cereal you eat eat your you can and you you just turn to them and you’ve got you a cow or something this just sounds disgusting just shut your mouth or something and you know especially suddenly turns around because I had a minute this is like the third thing that you’re criticizing before in 24 hours I thought you loved me and you go I do love you but but you’re eating like it was a bovine way I mean and they get terribly offended and think that no one’s ever told me that before you want to go yeah cuz why would they I mean your friend was not going to tell you your parents are not gonna tell you and your ex probably knew it but went off to India so you know the point is no one’s going to tell you and you sound like a cow at which point I wish point you’ve got a problem on your hands because romanticism doesn’t allow for this sort of situation it suggests that love is the acceptance of a whole being and therefore at one point in the relationship one person is likely say to another if you loved me why do you criticize me so there’s added criticism is here love is here they should never be together and if they are ever together it’s a sign that love has failed this again it’s a disastrous philosophy the idea that another person could spend any time with us and not spot a whole lot of things that are problematic is really the height of sentimentality of course there’s not I mean are you perfect if you’re not perfect how on earth do you expect someone not to notice the imperfections and not mind them but nevertheless romantism tells us that no this has no place look let’s look away from that rather unhelpful philosophy to an earlier vision of love this one developed by the ancient Greeks which i think is a lot more helpful the ancient Greeks very focused on love as we are but had a very different vision of what love is they felt that love is admiration for the perfect sides of another human being for the virtues the qualities the accomplishments in the character and achievements of another person there’s other stuff of course there’s you know floors and things and you may be generous towards them and you may be forgiving of them but you don’t love them the word love is reserved for an admiration for what is virtuous and accomplished in another person and for the ancient Greeks the whole notion of love is that love should be a process of mutual education in which two people under the auspices of love undertake to educate one another to become better versions of themselves and they do this not to be cruel not as a way of bringing each other down but because they have the sincerest best interest of the other at their heart and therefore love is a process whereby a teacher and a pupil are constantly rotating roles everyone is the teacher and everyone is the pupil at certain points and has lots of things to take on board this is not a sign that love has been abandoned it is the proof that love is in action now this sounds so weird in the modern age I mean if you said somebody said your partner I went to listen to this guy at the Opera House and he’s got some various ideas and he’s written a book and on this basis I would like to teach you certain things I would like to deliver a short seminar short but to the point seminar on your character achievements in nature way of eating um this would be to be so weird I get it like what you love me etc now why are we such bad teachers you know a lot of relationship arguments can essentially be seen as failed teaching moments there’s something you want to say and it goes terribly terribly wrong on the journey to your listener why does it go so wrong why why does the lesson why does the teaching lesson fail so badly partly because we don’t think it’s legitimate to teach so someone’s telling you it’s not your job is not legitimate you’ll be a bit panicked I like oh wow I’m not supposed to do this how do I so you’re not relaxed the other thing of course what makes a good teacher is that they’re calm is that they’re relaxed and one of the best ways to be a calm teacher is not to mind too much if your lesson doesn’t really get through to the other person so you know a great maths teacher you know they’re calm in the classroom because there’s not that much at stake of course they want their you know pupils to pick up a bit about trigonometry whatever but if they don’t and if they flunk their exams well there’ll be a new lot coming next year he doesn’t really matter there’s not that much at stake the thing is that in loves classroom we are much more tense we are much more on edge and the reason is that so much seems to depend on it and the background of our thoughts is the most terrifying specter as we’re trying to teach and the terrifying specter goes like this I think I’ve married an idiot I think I’ve got to spend the rest of my life with someone who doesn’t understand very basic very important things that matters so much to me and this person is not listening and because they’re not listening we’re going to ramp up the pressure and the tension and we’re going to start to be rude and we’re going to start to humiliate and we’re going to start to swear and the terrible problem is that no one has ever ever managed to teach anyone anything by humiliating them by the time you are humiliating your partner in order to teach them something forget it bye-bye the lessons over you are never going to get through that way as we know from HR departments in offices if you teach them on something it’s got to be 99% honey and a tiny tiny little criticism at the very end you know I love this I love that I love it did you know that thing that there are that maybe how you’ve got a chance of of getting through but we don’t do this so in love’s classroom we do not accept that love should be a process of mutual education we know so much about our partners that no one else ever does we’ve got a ringside seat on their charming site and on their insanities in a way that no one ever will but because we think it’s a betrayal of love that knowledge can’t be shared used and grown with because we are so brittle and defensive as students of this we simply fail to accept that the other person if somebody tries to give us a so-called lecture we might even use that pejorative term you know are you trying to give me a lecture and you know because Plato would say yeah I’m trying to give you a lecture because I love you because I love you I’m going to give you a lecture and we hope tomorrow you’ll give me a lecture and that’s the way it works but the romantics are like oh no I I’m not gonna stay with her she gives me lectures all the time oh I must leave her and let me legend and so what happens when loves classroom has failed well then the couple things get rather brittle and rather than trying to teach the couple descends into a cycle of mutual nagging and shirking what is nagging nagging is what happens on the other side of an attempt to teach you’re not gonna you no longer try gonna try and teach you’re just going to insist you’re going to force the person to believe and to listen you’re going to get very controlling and these are ministerial and you’re going to insist that they’re back at a certain time that they do this thing and you don’t really care whether you’re gonna charm your way into their minds or not you just insist that it’s done that way and meanwhile nagging always has the counterpart in shirking the shirking knows that tone well I’m going to pick up the newspaper go upstairs they’re not going to listen so there’s a mutual deafness teaching and learning has gone completely wrong and that unfortunately is very often what happens in relationships under the aegis of Romanticism now we alter despair where’s this going to go can we rescue this nosedive of feelings yes we can I think there’s lots of things to be hopeful about sometimes people say to me things like well you know are you not really hopeful about love are you saying that like we should just reduce our expectations no no we shouldn’t reduce our expectations I really believe that we should go into relationships with very high expectations the problem is that romanticism defined very rightly certain high expectations but then gave us no way of reaching those expectations securely it’s like it set the bar but then gave us no way of exceeding to that bar reliably so the task before us I think is to build the steps to get to the high place that we’ve accorded to love not not to necessarily bring down love but to try and find a way and as Ann says one of the one of the characters in the book at some point says you know it takes them a long time to realize this but they do realize that ultimately love is not just something that you feel it is ultimately a skill that needs to be learnt and it sounds very odd because we’re so we’re so in love with the notion of the intuitive relationship in which everything just comes sort of by nature and if it doesn’t come by nature then it is wrong and it’s so contrary to the way we do other things you know we are an incredibly procedural society that believes that there are rules and techniques and tricks and ways of making things happen but somehow in the area of love we insist stubbornly on intuition and it sounds so odd if you compare it with other things I mean imagine if I said to you know I’m going to fly a triple 7 down to Melbourne tomorrow I’m going to land it by intuition I’m going to perform a piece of brain surgery by intuition that’s crazy nevertheless in the area of love we’re ready to embark on you know 50 year marriages by intuition just hoping it’s all going to go well so what are some of these skills that we might need to develop but let me give you just a few and I throw these out and they’ve course be so many more but I think one of the things that can help and it sounds rather odd but one of things that can really help is to learn to see your partner as a small child probably between the ages of two to three and a half basically to imagine that your partner is of roughly that age now the reason I say this is that all of us nowadays are really pretty good around two to three and a half year olds so let’s imagine you’ve got one of those things at home and you’ve you’re cooking at dinner and I don’t know you’ve made some schnitzel potatoes broccoli and you you give the kid the dinner and it’s just good throws the whole dinner on the rocket like this and now you know you don’t hit the child you know I’ve had such a hard day at work and now this are you trying to bring me down are you trying to crush my character you got all no maybe you’ve got a sword too so you must be quite tired or maybe it’s that jealousy with your sibling it is getting to you it’s hard to share your toys that we’ve come up with very gentle explanations of why a piece of behavior is appeared on the horizon that seems pretty mean we don’t necessarily believe that people of that age are mean we simply feel that they’re in some ways hurting anxious damaged in some way and we want to help them we’re generous our adult love affairs do not find us in that kind of mood I mean there we’re constantly going you try to bring me down you’re trying to humiliate me you haven’t given me the attention I need very much take everything extremely personally you know part of the problem is that we don’t look like children I mean this is really unhelpful like if you know one of the great things about about children’s that they look like children so you can’t just know that they are a child but if you look at me some alone that you know you think oh this guy’s an adult he sort of looks like an adult so it’s quite counterintuitive to go like many parts of this character are about two and a half years old it just you can’t really believe it but the thing is that you sort of have to believe it I mean that you know the problem with psychological wounds and distortions is that you can’t see them I mean is literally a sort of simple is that you can’t see them if I’ve got a broken arm right everyone can see that I got a broken arm and you start to go okay the guys like messed up his speech because he’s got a bit of a broken arm he must be in pain and when he’s gonna walk through the door we’ll hold the door open we’ll make some special accommodation because we know he’s not all that well in some way and it’s just obvious he’s got a problem the thing is that all of us are kind of like that broken inside in various key ways but there’s no easy way of signaling it right we can’t signal that we’ve got these wounds and breakages etc and so our partners that necessarily give us the accommodation that they would and that’s why it’s so important to realise that of course wandering through the world everybody is very severely broken and in need of a lot of forgiveness and generally on the whole not mean just frightened most people are very very scared and that most appalling pieces have behaved normally have fear at the heart of them rather than evil the other thing that’s quite key I I think it is a real achievement of love is to learn to see your partner you know most of us after a while start to see our partners as idiots they just are a bit of an idiot and just like oh god an idiot thing has happened again with a with our partner now this is why this is why part of the reason why comedy and humor is so important in a relationship you have to find a way to access the comedic part of all of you now the interesting thing about comedy is that in comedy many comic heroes are total idiots I mean if you think of someone like David Brent or Larry David from Kirby Reserve these guys are just total total idiots but when we’re watching the shows we kind of do this amazing thing which is we both know there it is but we kind of like them we do this amazing metamorphosis we start to see them as lovable idiots kind of lovable idiots and that is such a piece of ethical imagination to turn someone from an idiot to a lovable idiot in your imagination is a major piece of maturity and if we’re able to achieve that even sometimes in love we will have learned very much how to temper our more punitive interpretations of who it is that we’ve got together with you know the other thing that we need of course is to really reckon with our habit of getting into crushes it was very charming of a certain point how easily we’ve developed crushes on people and you know for a time it was thrilling and you know it really kept us going in through certain years but like we really have to get over the crush thing because the thing is you don’t need to know someone at all well to know even though they look completely charming and it was lovely to see them in the airline queue or the supermarket briefly etc and that’s why you got a little tetchy when you’ve got home just because they were so lingered in your imagination there was kind of an angel walking around the aisles of the supermarket or at the airport and now you’ve had to go home nah sadly but there was this angel we’ve got to get over it and the reason we can get over it is by an absolute piece of scientific certainty which is that there are no angels they’re only human beings and every human being wandering the earth is very very problematic from close up you don’t know how this person is disturbed and would drive you mad but you know you have to know and take onboard that they would they just would if you knew them better despite their charms and honestly their you know ankles look lovely and their convert that little bit of conversation that you had at the conference was just very promising but the point is deep down they will cause you immense trouble because not they’re evil they’re human and everybody does this so in a way you know we’re so obsessed nowadays partly because of Technology with the idea of finding the perfect person the right person we’re all the time swiping left and right in a search for that right person that you know the truth is there is no such character everybody is going to be wrong in substantial areas there is no such thing compatibility ultimately is an achievement of love it isn’t an cart and shouldn’t be its precondition and therefore the notion that we can only really get together with somebody when we have found somebody who matches us entirely the person who is right isn’t the person who agrees and condones every aspect of our character it’s somebody who negotiates the differences between two people in a particular way with a particular generosity and deRossett sometimes humor this is so the so-called right person but then not that they are in some ways magical ways perfect look the other thing let’s mention it just very quickly around sex you know we live in an age of very high expectations around sex romanticism has prepared us for very high things and well the whole subjects a little bit of a veil of Tears to be honest there are really two things that we want in this area and they run in completely opposite directions all of us want safety we want to be really safe and loyal with somebody and loyalty brings with it safety so we really want safety and the other thing we really really want is excitement and the to just point in completely different directions and but you know periodically and it happens on a 20-year basis people come along ago I found a solution to this kind of like safety excitement thing and you going what is it so in the 60 people telling us it’s called free love so basically the deal is that you get a bit of both you get like safety in one corner and you get like excitement too and it’s really great and nowadays we’re deep in the age of polyamory so a lot of people do like this thing I’ve heard it’s called polyamory and it’s great it gives you everything and you know jealousy is just these things dreamt up by capitalism and we just you know head out there well there’s gentleman it just it just is not true these two things are deeply incompatible I’m not going to go into too much why we can discuss that later if you like but essentially you really have to make a choice between varieties of suffering well what kind of suffering what kind of suffering do you want to go for like do you want to go for you know and a house of what kind of upside is more important to you do you want to go for like the safety loyalty thing which is terrific you know fantastic coziness really sweet but you know you will be missing out and sometimes in the suburbs on a Saturday night you’ll be like oh wow you know what’s going on in the bars and they’re kind of they’re kind of swinging places of the city and it’s not for you so you’ve made your choice and then of course of course there’s the other choice which is excitement which is terribly thrilling and new people all the time and the first time you undress them and it’s all thrilling thrilling but of course it’s utter chaos your life’s full of recriminations full of jealousy full of confusion the children are in a mess but you know there’s the excitement so really the choice before us is what variety of suffering do you want to go for do you want to go for the chaos pit or the kind of boredom insult if occation but which one is like a choice and you know it’s funny it’s good you’re laughing because I I recently went I recently went to the United States and did a book tour and it wasn’t happen so much on the east coast which is like more closer to a kind of European sensibility but by the time I got to California by the time I was talking about this there was literally a stunned silence in the room and like what what which is saying like this you can’t make things perfect what we live in we live in LA like what but of course I think you know one of the great contributions you know Britain is not responsible for very much that some totally perfect for one of its greatest exports one of the greatest British exports is melancholy melancholy is a really kind of useful emotion sometimes because it’s not it’s not fury it’s not it’s not rage it’s like yeah like you know life’s imperfect but I’m dealing with it I’m coping with it I’m you know I’ve got Morrissey I’ve got back I’m handling it it’s under control and and I think this is an area yeah this is an area where we may we may want to have a course to that peculiar British gift to humanity um look you know am I saying that we should always stick with people you know I you know are we in danger of saying that in that case anyone is worth sticking with I don’t want to say that in many ways you know marriage is a pretty nasty thing to do to somebody that you claim to love it’s pretty it’s putting them through some very pretty difficult – stresses but you know and then undoubtedly sometimes people that you should leave some relationships which should be broken up um how can you tell how do you know whether you should leave somebody and you know I think there’s almost got a simple rule of thumb I think you know if you can look at your life honestly survey it’s good and bad sides and if you can honestly pinpoint all the things that are making you profoundly unhappy to your partner if you look around you think okay yeah all the things that are really bringing me down it’s them it really is them it’s them leave if you if you really can feel that just leave right then you should leave but if you honestly take an audit of your sources of unhappiness and many causes for which they’re you know reverberating through your soul and you look at your partner you go I’m not sure if I can fully blame them for everything then stay stay because what what you may what you may have encountered is some of the unhappiness of existence in the company of another person rather than because of another person so easy to merge the two I mean Great Britain Britain has done exactly this with its marriage to the European Union it very much believed that all of its unhappiness could be pinpointed to this thing getting rid of it it would be happy and now it’s discovering a lesson that many people in relationships have also discovered painful when it when it when it’s too late should we even bother with marriage my novel is about marriage in a way it’s a very much a novel focusing on long-term relationship so that with a marriage is there any point to it anymore you know many articles know me about one a week in a major broadsheet newspaper it’s always about his marriage still in is it still relevant and of course it doesn’t really make sense from all sorts of points of view like if you look a sugarcoat a sober look at marriage it’s completely insane it’s like how I’m going to give half of all my belongings and it is still nowadays people don’t invest heavily in lawyers to make things easy we kind of jump headlong into marriage and we still do it despite all the reasons why we might not so why do we do this and is it just a kind of insanity well I don’t think so I think that the very fact that we make ourselves go through marriage and we invite all our friends we have a huge wedding so it would be so embarrassing if you have to call them all up go you know what you know that TV you bought me really sorry it’s only been three months but I’m quitting right why do we why do we publicly betroth ourselves to another person because I think I’m mature part of us knows that we benefit from the cage of marriage it is a cage but we put ourselves in it we lock ourselves and we throw away the key ourselves not because we’re crazy but because we realize that there are sides of our character that really can only develop in an environment in which neither of us can quit the room immediately but actually the ability to run away so tempting though it is is not always a benefit to the things that we’ve got to work through so we willingly engage ourselves because we realize that there is some kind of piece of maturity some piece of growing up that is going to happen when we are locked together in a situation which we can’t immediately accept at a huge cost and huge embarrassment Baris matteri important we willingly entering into a situation which it will be deeply embarrassing to leave we’re not simply crazy we’re aware of the debt that maturity owes to being slightly locked into a situation so look I do believe that it is possible to have long term relationships I just think we need to run through a kind of checklist when are we ready for love when are we ready to really embark on this long term business of love I think you’re ready to really go for it in love when you finally and conclusively accept that you really are crazy and you have really quite a good handle on your craziness and not least you have a really good handle on your partner’s craziness and you have an absolute awareness that anyone you meet even the most charming person on a train is going to be very imperfect cause that’s human nature when you’re ready to do the laundry when you’re ready to discuss towels ad infinitum when you’re ready not merely to insist that others will guess what’s in your heart but you may even have to use words to spell it out very very patiently over long periods and you’re ready that and you’re ready to believe that all of this with a dose of humor belongs to a sincere relationship then ladies and gentleman I think you are ready for love and I would commend you to move forward on it that’s all from me we’ve got a bit of time for questions thank you so much thank you so there are some mics and to do to approach them with a question a confession a vulnerability we’re among friends yes brave brave lady here number two thank you very much my question is about the tools that you spoke all the craziness quotient you talked about that we all should be adopting and acknowledging is there a system that you think you could be developing just like we have for job interviews and those sorts of things and fir quite sophisticated dating sites that aren’t just related to how big certain bits are but about the compatibility because in as you know as you referenced earlier time gone by we had arranged marriages we had elders so with the absence of that system is there a new portal and you drop down young you well that you have in mind you know it is really because in a way Silicon Valley is very romantic as a kind of institution and very much believes in helping us to find the right person and if you look at most of the technological tools that have appeared in the last 15 years an enormous number are designed to increase on choices and to try and direct us towards this person called the right person and I try to hint that in a sense that’s useful and in a sense it’s unhelpful because this emphasis on rightness and this notion that just with a superior piece of technology and algorithm we will get to a person with whom there will be no friction sets us up rather dangerously for the reality of love which is that everybody is a different person we we’ve all come from a womb let’s remember we’ve all come from a womb in which we didn’t have to speak in which our needs were met as it were just automatically through an umbilical cord and it takes a good long time good fifty years or so before we realize that we have actually left that environment and that we and and that no one can fully understand us that we’re you know if you’re lonely with say 40 percent of your life only you’re doing really well but I mean the idea that you’re not going to be lonely is very misguided and therefore I would be wary of utopian experiment with matching and constant attempts to match what we really need is you know apps and bits of technology that teach us patience that teaches resourcefulness in a resourceful mnestheus forgiveness that teaches humor to the to date um that hasn’t happened at all there are no apt euros interesting I was invited to a Google conference the other day in in the UK and Eric Schmidt that the chairman of Google was talking about what he what Google was planning in the next of 15 years and it was like putting people on Mars and curing cancer and like you know x-ray vision and all sorts of things amazing things and then somebody in the audience says you know mr. Schmidt is there anything that you think Google can’t do like things that are beyond technology and he laughed and he went well we’re not exactly about to invent an app to teach people to be more forgiving and he laughed and anyway I as though like what a Man Thing so then fortunately I I sidled up to him at the reception afterwards and said mr. Schmidt you’re curing cancer but you think it’s impossible to create a piece of technology which will assist us in the task of being more forgiving i profoundly disagree with you and I don’t get a kind of conversation but I think that look to some extent my book is a piece of technology a very old fashioned glued together doesn’t move or sing or light up but is essentially a tool a piece of technology I read a book III don’t like entertainment I don’t like entertaining people for the sake of it I am a teacher and I’ve written this novel it’s not boring really well it’s nothing happens in it really but but but but really it’s following two people in their attempt they go from being romantics who believe that love is just a feeling just slowly slowly slowly they realize they’ve got they’re going to break up and they’re going to create a disaster in their lives unless they learn some lessons of love and the novel is you know T taking you through that journey it’s an attempt to teach through the medium of a novel and I think that we need that sort of intervention into our lives and and very kindly mentioned a school of life which is opening the school of life is dedicated to trying to skill people up in this area it sounds so unromantic and I apologize for it sounding so unromantic if you said I’ve just come back from a class in which I’ve learned how to interpret the moods of my partner think oh my god that sounds a horrible really you went to that poor you and of course the old thing is when people go you know I’m seeing a therapist and forgoes whole no poor poor you the relation are we seeing a marriage therapist oh my god well it’s clearly about to be over what’s of course there is no sure a sign that a relationship is on safe ground than that a couple has taken the step to try and examine it logically so anyway I’m rambling but I hope that in some way answers your question thank you so much hi um I just wanted to know what are your thoughts on the search for love through things like tinder yes okay let’s go back to that I think I think that tinder again excites us because it makes the choosing of people it places the emphasis on the story of love at a very particular moment which is the moment of choice and it’s not surprising because our culture is so obsessed most love stories are not love stories they’re the stories of two people finding each other overcoming certain obstacles and getting together it then ends a story then ends so I don’t have a problem with tinder I’m sure it’s fun the thing is if you have a bit of a high profile and you’re married sadly you can’t go on tinder so I have no idea and no idea about tinder but that was a joke that was a joke joke but but it places the evidence in the wrong place which is it leads to an impatient search you’re throwing a lot of human beings away look III as a secular Jew I love I love the Christian idea that once you know about love you could love anyone and and Christianity really emphasizes this point that you could love anyone you could love a leper you could love someone with leprosy so imagine Twitter breaks down and goes actually stop this choice you’re going to be choosing you a leper please love them but like all no I’m gonna love a leper comes guy I can’t stripe you try to swipe and the thing doesn’t swipe you’ve got you’re stuck with a leper right wouldn’t necessarily be bad it would teach us a lot of things and I think that the more you know about love the more you know about love the less important it is who you’re loving I don’t mean that you haven’t noticed but you’re loving a particular person but you realize that everyone and that the act of loving anyone is going to require many of the same resources and I think that our technological tinder ish age has deeply forgotten that lesson it is the lesson of art you know if you think of one of the novels of Dostoevsky but a constant attempt to take us behind the scenes of people who look pretty disgusting at first swipe like you would have got our Raskolnikov lovely match like were murderer murderer Napoleonic visionary and egomania you wouldn’t have you would have gone on a date right but but but just oh yes he takes you behind the scenes and goes you know behind this profile is a human and discovers the humanity behind the profile and I worry that our age is getting ever less adept at that maneuver but for me that maneuver is love okay three and is there a particular model for your notion of revealing your insanities to a prospective partner or is that was that something that you expect would just emerge naturally in conversation no III think it’s look I think it’s very important to do it at a time when your insanity has not wounded the other person but the reason why most of us are so unforgiving to the flaws of others is because we encounter those flaws at moments when they’ve damaged us so it’s like look I know about your father and how horrible he was or your mother and how you know she didn’t love you enough but I frankly I don’t care because right now you’ve ruined my weekend so like I’m not really in a mood to listen to that stuff it’s like I don’t care that you were once a small child who was you know tenderer because actually frankly you just destroyed my relationship with my best friend out of some weird misguided feeling of jealousy and I don’t know where it comes from but I don’t care so in other words you are not going to be sympathetic when it’s damaged you so the time to do it is when the other person feels relaxed tender and you need to find some strategy you know the art of timing most of the time we are so because there’s not a teaching culture within relationships we feel that we’ve got to get our lesson out at the very moment when we feel it it’s like the romantics are all about authenticity so it’s like you know it’s all this cult but being authentic to your feelings you’ve got to be true to your feelings that’s the you know I mean really you really want to be true to all your feelings oh that’s going to be trouble like I think you’re looking a little ugly today oh I just had to express that because I’m a romantic you know your your thighs are looking a little fat but I’m a romantic so I had to tell you jaja Caruso told me to tell you that your thighs are a little fat so that’s really I kind of run so do it yeah do it when they’re calm and do it strategically and trying not to hurt somebody with your insanity you’ll find a better result some number 4 hi oh god that’s that sorry I just wanted to ask this is a bit of an uncomfortable question but money um is it well yeah I got to start again my I’m under strict instruction I’m going to go to art school next year and I’m under strict instruction to not fall in love with another person who wants to become an artist because I will end up being poor and sad and lonely um and I just wanted to ask the question if practical things such as money houses towels whatever can actually really break up a relationship or if those a negotiable things okay that’s such a good question because it it really sits on top of this romantic classical divide if you like in it in the interview of love the last writer to talk head-on about love and money is Jane Austen in European fiction and her novels are obsessed with money not to the detriment of everything else but they take a really fascinating look I mean you know the way it works with with Jane Austen novels very often you’ll be told that such a character was worth 20 pounds a year and you furiously look back at the news Awards at 20 pounds like what does that mean that doesn’t sound out very much and then someone’s like worth for 40 pounds and they’ve got an annuity and they got it so like you’re totally told the financial status of all the characters and this can sound quite weird because we are romantics and romantics believe as you correctly suggest that love love and money have nothing to do with one another the true love has absolutely nothing to do with money that love is a feeling and money’s as horrible dirty thing and Jane Austen is the last person to have an intelligent same view of money because she doesn’t say they’re all characters in her novels in Mansfield Park there are these characters whose name I now forget I forget her name one there’s one couple that gets together primarily for money because they’re financially interested in only financially interested and they have a terrible life and but Fanny Price the heroine has got she’s a little bit interested in money in other words she sensibly knows that money has got things to contribute to a good relationship and she doesn’t see this as a sign that she’s an evil person she simply sees it as a practical recognition of what money can do and what practical sides of life do to emotions and you know I would recommend a Jane Austen view of your dilemmas in art school in other words it’s not that you’re a bad person that you think of it and frankly yes I mean you know there are plenty of extremely nice people who are making a miserable dry brittle living in the financial sector who would love to infuse their soul with a more artistic temperament and I recommended yeah I have a very simple question to say just to give my question actually is how do I bring romantism in my marriage after being married 37 years today right and gotten graduations our marriage actually was an arranged marriage according to our culture our parents chose each other for us and we blindly accepted it even though we had our own personal views but we said yes because our parents said he’s stable he has his own business he will keep you safe and secure money money being the issue yes well look I think that some of the thing that happens is that when you love somebody you want to lay claim to them you want to own them you want to possess them but it’s a great extent I think we don’t appreciate things or people that we possess we don’t appreciate what we have and I think that you know the question that you’re asking is not really about romanticism it’s about appreciation and I think it holds true not just for relationships but for everything you know Marcel Proust was once asked by a newspapers were doing silly questionnaires even then and he was asked by a newspaper how how he would feel if he heard that a meteorite was heading for the earth and would soon destroy civilization just like 1919 and he said that it would be a marvelous thing because suddenly everything in life would be so full of meaning Beauty charm he would rush to go to museums that he hadn’t been to he would undertake journeys he would fall in love he would appreciate his friends all of these things and that what and he said rather pointedly the thing that prevents us from noticing all of these things is the feeling that it’s forever and that we already possess them when in fact all of us might die this evening he says he was a hypochondriac but a good one but I think we can take a little lesson from preusse book imagine you and your husband might die this evening that’s the single most remember this might be your last evening that’s what you should do we’ve got we’ve got about 14 seconds for the last question so this last question to us tonight but also my question relates to what you spoke to spoke about in the beginning which is you said we’re in the age of it romanticism right now what what do you think has caused the persistence of the age of Romanticism like for centuries yeah what do you think the next evolution is for love and persistent relationships look I don’t want to sound like one of those guys but to some extent it is to do with the commercial system we live within it’s so much easier when you’re trying to sell someone toothpaste to sell it with that initial heady ecstatic moment of love there’s a huge interest in talking about that it’s look it’s deeply exciting the moment two people get together is one of the most exciting things in the world so no wonder we keep scratching that bit of human nature it’s no surprise if I was making a Hollywood movie and I was spending a hundred million pounds and the choice was between you know the you know a long-term relationship or that heady moment you know you care for the heady moment I mean the only filmmaker who’s ever made a sensible film in the last of 10 years about marriage is Richard Linklater with his beautiful film before midnight which is about the only adult description of love and it was a very small grossing movie but please go and see it if you can because it’s one of the great films but it you know we’re surrounded by people who have a lot of interest in exciting us around the early moments of love but the fight back begins and it begins here and it begins with a novel I’ve written ahead and and with you listening so I encourage all of you to come and see me afterwards get your book sight and to begin a new way of approaching love not in a cold way not with cynicism or with pessimism but with a healthy belief that the best way to get our relationships to go well is to overcome certain of our romantic illusions thank you so much

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