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Brain Plasticity-Goodbyes

March 27, 2012

Because I lack (only right now) the perceptive, eloquent and brilliant writing expression that Jennifer Egan has.

“Yet each disappointment Ted felt in his wife, each incremental deflation, was accompanied by a seizure of guilt; many years ago, he had taken the passion he felt for Susan and folded it in half, so he no longer had a drowning, helpless feeling when he glimpsed her beside him in bed: her ropy arms and soft, generous ass. Then he’d folded it in half again, so when he felt desire for Susan, it no longer brought with it an edgy terror of never being satisified. Then in half again, so that feeling desire entailed no immediate need to act. Then in half again, he hardly felt it. His desire was so small in the end that Ted could slip it inside his desk or a pocket and forget about it, and this gave him a feeling of safety and accomplishment, of having dismantled a perilous apparatus that might have crushed them both…..But eventually a sort of amnesia had overtaken Susan; her rebellion and hurt had melted away, deliquesced into a sweet, eternal sunniness that was terrible in the way that life would be terrible, Ted supposed, without death to give it gravitas and shape. He’d presumed that her relentless cheer was mocking, another phase in her rebellion, until it came to him that Susan had forgotten how things were between them before Ted began to fold up his desire; he’d forgotten and was happy-had never not been happy and while all of this bolstered his awe at the gymnastic adaptability of the human mind, it also made him feel that his wife had been brainwashed. By him.” —from Good-Bye, My Love, A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan.

Sadly and inevitably, I am sure love / passion actively fades / is abandoned by many in a majority of human relationships. Maybe it is not a gift that we have neuronal plasticity, but rather, it is a fundamental trait naturally selected over the years to ensure our survival.

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One Comment
  1. An interesting, and beautifully expressed point, although it is perhaps a more pessimistic way to express the notion that beauty fades and that relationships take work. Still, I’m able to overlook such pessimism when, as here, the message is so trenchant and so artfully said.

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