THE LOVER AND THE BELOVED
Each role must, of course, be taken on by one of the parties, and it is usually– in each and every relation– the same one who takes on, over and over again, the same role. Ergo the repetitive nature of relationships, failures and dissatisfactions. For, as with the chosen and the chooser, it is at heart a mattle of entitlement– Who shall be the one to say: I want you, I choose you, It is my right to have you? And who the one to say: I am the longed-for one, the wished-for, sought-after one who has no right to choose?
There are, clearly, only two alternatives– the patter goes on interminably, or it changes. But, in order for it to change, something must change in the inner, irrevocably private, lives of the participants– i.e. the beloved must somehow summon from his/her inner life the conviction that he has the right to choose; the lover must summon from his the conviction that he/she is worthy of being chosen.
As with all matters of the heart, this is ultimately a matter of achieving some sort of dialectic: If we cannot, somehow, achieve a state in which we alternate our respective roles (I becoming both chooser and chosen, you becoming both lover and beloved), we are doomed, at best, to what we might call a „repetition from the other side“– i.e. the roles remain identical, only the actors change.
Witness, for example, the sense of bewilderment felt by lovers who complain: „I don’t get it– I’ve completely changed my behavior, but now she’s behaving exactly the way I used to“… as if there were something incomprehensible, rather than extremely logical, about this „switching“ of roles.
It is precisely this repetitive nature of psychic role-playing– entirely overwhelming, indeed subjugating, the power of individual change to the pattern of larger constellations-that may account for the sense of repetition we derive from the tragic itself– be it in Shakespeare, Ibsen, Lawrence, Dostoyevski, Hardy, or Beckett. For not just romantic partners, but life itself, is, to some extent, either chosen or acquiesced in on the basis of such psychic predispositions.
So that the same man who rails against the Fates (i.e. Macbeth) may also find himself the beleagured chosen of an overpowering Queen (Lady Macbeth), whereas the one who, howsoever whimsically (e.g. Don Quixote), sets out after what his imagination dictates as the desired, becomes entitled, at least, to the possession of his own illusions.
Yet each, rather obviously, is to some extent the fool, who cannot wear both hats at once, who cannot be both determined and determining, free-willed and destined. To wit, the oddly resonant circumstances of the tyrant and monk, the ascetic and the profligate… and how frequently in our history books they one has become the other– always entirely lopsided in disposition, always on the brink of the same disaster, but from different directions.