Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Tonight in my english class we discussed the book we are reading. We are currently reading Plato's Symposium. One character (who was a real person) named Aristophanes revealed his theory on love (Eros as they referred to it). According to Aristophanes many many many years ago humanity existed in a far different manner than they do today. We were 8 limbed creatures with four arms and four legs and two complete sets of genitalia both male and female in addition to two heads each with its unique and sovereign personality. We cartwheeled around gayly and were so blissfully content that it upset the gods. They saw our joy and felt compelled to end it. Their solution was to separate us from our partner and make us walk instead of roll. In doing so, they cut us apart "like one cuts an egg with a hair." Zeus and the other gods were quite pleased with the results of their tampering, and watched happily as we wandered though life feeling empty and incomplete because well......we were. You see according to Aristophanes each of us was part of a "token" human and separate we were not really human.

A Token as it was understood in 5th century greece, was a bone from an animal that was broken in half and each half given to a separate party who was to meet for the first time. You see back then there weren't picture ids and facebook to help us conduct a virtual meeting or know beforehand what the person we were to meet looked like. The two pieces of bone would form a puzzle that only the two people possessing the correct pieces could solve. In this way two complete strangers would know that they were destined to meet and likewise two strangers could see that they were not meant to meet.

Like the Tokens of the 5th century each half of a "human" consisted of a male and a female who were a perfect fit and could complete the puzzle of humanity. You see in Aristophanean math 1+1=1 if you are talking about a male and a female. And like the token metaphor we each have only 1 possible match who will make us whole again.

I love this theory for many reasons but before I delve into them let me first state that I don't actually believe in the greek gods or any of that mythic nonsense. They are simply stories to me, and like any good story, they reveal an underlying truth about us.
Ok, so back to what I like about the theory. I am a "helpless" romantic and as a helpless romantic I see the world as being an elaborate love story between me and miss anonymous. I love the idea that we are each incomplete without our perfect match. I love the idea that there is only really one true match. I love also love the whole deja vu aspect of this idea. I fantasize about meeting my "better half" (quite appropriate don't you think) and feeling as though we have met before. I have my own theories on these things but I will save that for another time.

For now, here is quite possibly the lousiest trailer to the movie that best demonstrates this theory in a modern day world: Serendipity (one of my personal favorite love stories)

No comments:

Post a Comment