What is the perfect relationship? Plato's ideal forms were only shadows on the wall of a cave, but what would be the closest embodiment of the ideal in the real -- as far as human congress is concerned? Is the Solomonic model of complete equanimity what we would advise to youthful newcomers to the relationship business? Love and work were the two pillars of human existence for Freud and the fulfillment of these two callings are the challenge (and burden) facing every generation as it reaches maturity. If you remember in the argument over maternity, Solomon offered to cut the baby in half, but on a less dramatic level you're faced with the prospect of some degree of sacrifice when it comes to living with another person whose needs and desires are not always a mirror of your own. The murdered baby is a metaphor for the kind of intransigence indicated by the slogan "take my way or the highway." How many times does one threaten the very existence of a relationship by electing to be right rather than happy? How many times are you ready to sever the baby and destroy everything for the sake of an ego which is doomed to die anyway? However, equanimity is an Enlightenment view of human existence. It's predicated on the notion that equality can actually be legislated. How do we account those animal instincts that are an ineluctable part of appetite and desire? Reason alone doesn't explain the irrational element of attraction that ignites an interaction in the first place. How many times have well meaning friends tried to make a shidduch, the Yiddish word for matchmaking, only to find that neither party is willing to conform to what is essentially an idea? Yes it's nice to dabble in reason, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions -- and the humanistic equivalent of arranged marriages.
"Judgement of Solomon" by Gustave Dore
This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.
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