The possibility of expressing and validating love in written on the body and Bornholm night-ferry
Irfana Begum Shaik Fareed
Date of Issue2017
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Love is simultaneously inexpressible and constantly seeking expression. Jeanette Winterson’s Written on The Body and Aidan Higgins’s Bornholm Night-Ferry toys with this paradox. “Love demands expression. It will not stay still, stay silent, be good, be modest, be seen, and not heard, no” (Winterson 9). This quotation suggests that love is an expressive emotion full of mobility, intensity and vigour. Love cannot be contained and hence needs to be conveyed immediately. In yet, if all expression of love is recycled quotation, how does one articulate the original experience of love? If one blunders into recycling each time he or she speaks, can the individual ever be able to communicate his or her authentic feeling of love? Language is integral in conveying the feeling of love to the lover. However, the language of love has become wearied and overuse. It is trapped within its own unoriginality thus the user of such language is unable to break-away from the clichés of love. As such, this calls into question how one can use language which does not allow for private expression to speak the precise truths in one’s heart. Also, is language alone sufficient for the love to be sustained? Winterson and Higgins draw an intimate connection between language and love. Although the former is imperative for the latter, these texts also highlights that language alone is inadequate in expressing the love and sustaining the relationship of the lovers. Winterson’s text come to terms with this deplorable situation, thus, the lover is able to sustain his/her relationship with Louise. Firstly, the narrator comes to an understanding that love is about shaping and conveying the experience of the powerful emotion as words do not do justice and is inadequate in communicating the depth of feelings the s/he has for Louise. The narrator also creates a new language of love which is derived from his erotic desire for Louise. Although some may argue that such love is purely based on physical phenomenon, using Richard White’s Love’s Philosophy, I will argue that only through erotic love, the lover is able to fully experience and internalize a heightened perception of every nuance that constitutes the lover’s embodied form, and hence, revivify and preserve his love for Louise. However, in Higgins’s text, the love between Fitz and Elin could not be sustained. Although language offers the means for them to express their varied emotion of love, their love affair is short-lived. I will use Stendhal’s theory of “passion love” to reason for their brief love affair. In his book On Love, Stendhal affirms that “passion love” for the lover, generates illusions about the beloved. Stendhal’s theory of crystallization expands on this view where the “imagination of the lover can transform an ordinary person into a glittering idol” (Brümmer 47). Fitz’s pleasurable illusion is derived from his memory and imagination of Elin, which is captured in his letters to Elin. He uses language to concretize the image of Elin and hence attempts to preserve their love affair. Fitz is too enthralled with the idea of love, while remaining indifferent to the actual needs of Elin, who wants to ground their love to reality since she is afraid of losing the sensual memory of Fitz, replaced by reflections. Therefore, this essay will confront the paradox of language which is described above and attempt to unearth the meaning of love in each text.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University