love and shit, somerville, 2002
Dorothy Tennov was born in Montgomery County, Alabama. She was a professor of psychology at the University of Bridgeport for twenty years. In addition to being a professor of psychology she was also a student of the philosophy of science, most specifically the science of desire.
Here is the woman who named the ultimate crushed out state of being. I wonder what drove her to that. Who was the person that had Dorothy in that particular place of heat? The place where, for weeks, months, even a year or so, a lady can't concentrate on much of anything. Except, well, you. The Other. The true desirable thing. There is little need for food, although no matter what one eats, it is the best thing to eat, EVER. It is a state in which everything becomes shinier, deeper, spicier, more gorgeous and beautiful. Unspeakably tender, and yet unbreakable. A person's heart puffs up into its most generous capacity, old grudges are ceremoniously evicted by fascination and beauty. Wounds heal. Muscles stretch. Adventure is the order of each day and a girl dips her toe in any number of oceans. She tries fois gras, skydiving, buys fresh flowers for the kitchen table. She discovers new fashionable styles that miraculously look incredible on her killer bod. Any body becomes beloved. She takes up smoking again, relined on her side, the line up her body like an old muscle car in the moonlight and the cigarette winds its smoke into the night, each inhallation accompanied by the appearance of perfect health. The pleasantly afflicted girl, has no use for sleep, really, perhaps four or five hours a night. Sometimes two and a nap later. She becomes an utter machine of productivity, dragging out old lists of dull chores that have been lolling about the subconscious for years, clogging up the joint and gathering dust. The chores are completed and the small victories pile up adding to the sense that the world is a universe of opportunities, magical psychological twinnings and ornate sensory olympics of delight. The state in which one might as well be dining with unicorns.
Now, like any ultimate state, the coin bears both a heads, and a waggly tail. Or, on a bad day, A spiked, evil, scaly tail with poison in it. During the height of limerence, thoughts become not just persistent, but downright intrusive. Which is to say, limerence is a condition of obsession. Everything is associated with the object of desire. EVERYTHING. All horoscopes refer back to this person: the news, travel, hunks of conversation overheard at the next table in the taqueria, plot lines of Friends reruns in which you find yourself identifying with Ross and Rachel so hardcore, it becomes poignant, dare I say poetic?
According to the good universe at large throwing data into the sack of Wikipedia:
The constant thoughts about the limerent object define all other experiences. If a certain thought has no previous connection with the limerent object, immediately one is made. Limerent fantasy is unsatisfactory unless rooted in reality, because the fantasizer may want the fantasy to seem realistic and somewhat possible. (...) Otherwise, the long fantasy is anticipatory; it begins in the everyday world and climaxes at the attainment of the limerent goal. A limerent fantasy can also involve an unusual, often tragic, event...
Side effects include heart palpitations, trembling, pallor, and flushing. Also on the possible menu we have awkwardness, stuttering, shyness, confusion, dizziness, fainting, headaches, and, as we've noted, loss of appetite. There is apprehension, nervousness, and anxiety. Amid this circus a condition of sustained alertness, and razor of awareness develop coupled with an enormous trust fund of entitled energy.
The sensation of limerence is felt in the midpoint of the chest, bottom of the throat, guts, or in some cases in the abdominal region.This can be interpreted as ecstasy at times of mutuality, but its presence is most noticeable during despair at times of rejection.
The nice side of it can feel akin to a big hit of clean ecstasy coming on, a pile of great cocaine that was free, or a huge toke of a glass pipe of dull blue crystal meth reeking pleasantly of wet mimeograph paper. I am not choosing drug metaphors either because I happen to have dabbled a bit in the past, or because I am making an attempt to be a cutting edge person frolicking on the fringe of society with too much eyeliner and bad skin. I'm doing it because this shit is actually based on drugs. Your body manufactures drugs this good. And like any strong controlled substance, it's pretty ugly when the unicorns you are dining with unzip their faces to reveal themselves as hungry minotaurs escaped from the maze.
Me? I love love. I love falling in love. I love being in love, witnessing love, documenting love, honoring love, and depicting love. I love ceremony and tawdry demonstrations. I love Julia Roberts films and Meg Ryan movies before she went and fucked up her face. I have no shame about cheezy or over the top. And I also love the story of Limerence run amok. A bunny on the stove. Extreme limerant problems.
splendored thing, indeed.
And getting there, a veritable feast of dangerous delights.
So be careful out there people,
but not so careful
you don't show up to have the time of your life.
And have dessert.