“…Thereafter, the computer so juggled things that it placed Chloe over the wind of the aircraft in seat 15A and I next to her in seat 15B. What we had ignored when we began speaking over the safety instruction card was the minuscule probablity that our discussion had been reliant upon. As neither of us were likely to fly Club Class, and as there were 191 economy-class seats and Chloe had been assigned seat 15A and I, quite by chance, had been assigned seat 15B, the theoretical probability that Chloe and I would be seated next to one another (though the chances of our actually talking to one another could not be calculated) worked itself out as 220 in 36,290, a figure reducible to a probability of 1 in 164.955.” (pgs. 8 & 9)
-On lovers’ predilection toward attributing their meeting to destiny. “Because you are perfect for me and I am perfect for you, we were born for one another and the entire journey of each of our lives was undertaken for the sole purpose of coming to this one place at this time to meet you, my love.”
“Chloe and I would never have been as brutal to our friends as we were to one another. But we equated intimacy with a form of ownership and license. We may have been kind, but we were no longer polite.” (pg.62)
“When I told Chloe my idea that people’s personalities in relationships were a bit like amoebas, she laughed and told me she’d loved drawing amoebas at school… “I’ll draw you the difference between what shape my amoeba-self has at the office and what shape it has with you, ” [she said.]…
“What are all the wiggly bits?” I asked.
“Oh, that’s because I feel wiggly around you.”
“Well, you know, you give me space. I feel more complicated than in the office. You’re interested in me and you understand me better, so that’s why I made it wiggly, so that it’s sort of natural.”
“OK, I see, so what’s this straight side?”
“… Well, you don’t understand everything about me, do you? So I thought I’d better make it more realistic…” (pgs. 106 & 107)
“Dr. Saavedra had diagnosed [Chloe with] a case of anhedonia, a disease defined by the British Medical Association as a reaction remarkably close to mountain sickness resulting from the sudden terror brought on by the threat of happiness.” (italics mine, pg. 123)
Never has an analytical book, which dares use political terminology more often than you think possible, captured realistic love in such a, well, realistic way. Part fiction, part series of essays, de Botton’s debut, published when he was 23 (23!) is perhaps one of the greatest works ever written on the subject of romantic love, because here the lover, as mad as he is, manages sobriety long enough to give us a first person account but also somehow makes it as objective as one can dare hope for — and so interesting! He deftly and articulately explores depths the rest of us only know instinctively, emotionally and wordlessly. Thus, we recognize on these pages our own ways of falling in and out of love, our own ways of masking something terrible, of faking this or that, of giving in completely and of flailing about, having lost our identity, of being too happy for words and inexplicably, uncontrollably sad; we recognize ourselves in Chloe, who stops buying the narrator’s favorite cereal all of a sudden, while continuing to call him by his nickname. We recognize ourselves in Chloe when she, again all of a sudden, buys it one last morning, and that’s how we know she doesn’t love him anymore. Have I given too much away? No. You must read this book.
Here are some of the chapter headings:
Love or Liberalism
The Jesus Complex
I so want you to read this book, I’d give you all a copy if I could. Because I can’t, if you call in today and order it from us, just mention this saccharine post and we’ll discount the price 30%. If you order today, you’ll have the book on Friday and be preparing to read it a second time Saturday morning. Consider it our Valentine to you.
After today, I promise to never talk about love. Ever again.
But read the book.