“We”

Love creates new identities for the lovers. These are symbolized by the new names they give one another, the terms of endearment they use. Re-naming symbolizes the psychological fact that each lover now has a new identity, special and specific to the relationship. The idealization of the beloved’s anatomy, of the surface of his or her body and the special names given to parts of the body is a crucial aspect of the normal integration of tender and erotic strivings. The erotic idealization parallels the normal idealization processes in romantic love.

The feeling tone informing the “we” differs from couple to couple. “The world is our oyster” is not the same as “us against the world.” The couple is the first child of the union. It has a birthday and anniversary. The “we” accumulates its own history. The lovers delight in recounting all of its milestones; the  day we cooked lobsters, the day we went to the beach are sacred memories by virtue of their power to revivify emotions. New places discovered are “owned” by the couple.

They relinquish the usual insistence on the boundaries of the self and come to believe in the autonomous life of a new entity-the ‘we’ created by love.

The existence of this new identity is apparent when the lover loses the beloved or belief in the love of the beloved. Not only is there a loss of the social network of other couples that formed their social circle. Now the lover has to establish a new circle, perhaps of single friends. The internal loss is even more important. There is a loss of the identity of their couple hood that is experienced as a loss of part of the self.

 

Verdi’s Otello illustrates this process. Otello and Desdemona celebrate the memories of the love that has grown between them. He sings of how he shared his history with her that included great suffering and eventual triumph. She sings of her pity for his suffering.

 

Desdemona sings of her pride in Otello’s bravery and remembers how he told her of  his life in exile, the battles he fought and how frequently his life was in danger. She remembers his tale of walking across the dessert and being taken into slavery. She remembers the suffering he endured and how eventually he escaped and triumphed over adversity.

Otello in turn recalls how moved he was by the tears he saw in her eyes when he told her of his suffering. He remembers how she loved him for the danger that he overcame and he loved her that she pitied him for his suffering

Otello and Desdemona recount and celebrate their history as a “we”. Otello exalts in this feeling of “we-ness” and believes he could die and feel totally content having experienced Desdemona’s love.

The importance of the mutual identification as a “We” is demonstrated when Otello begins to believe the lies about Desdemona’s faithfulness to him. He loses a part of himself as he loses belief in her fidelity. He loses that part of himself that felt itself to be a “we”.

He exclaims that if Desdemona is false, it would be equivalent to his losing belief in God. He feels foolish that he was so trusting of her and did not see her subtle deceits. He cries out that his heart is broken and that he has lost his golden dream.

Otello has lost a part of himself that previously enriched him. He had transcended his isolated individuality to believe in something; the greater love that he and Desdemona shared. He has now lost this expanded part of himself. He kills Desdemona and she allows this. She does not struggle against her murder because she knows herself to be innocent.

 See Realized love #1

See Realized love #3

See Realized love #4

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See Fear of surrendering to passion #1