Friday, July 25, 2008

The Head and the Heart

The war between the head and the heart is the concern of Shakespeare's sonnet 141. Does being in love make sense? Does love make you happy? The poet, in his clear-headed moments, doesn't even like the lady but, sick with desire, he is obsessed with her. Once again, love is a 'plague', a fever, an illness that brings 'pain'. He is in fact so sick that the pain itself has become a pleasure.

In faith, I do not love thee with mine eyes,
For they in thee a thousand errors note;
But 'tis my heart that loves what they despise,
Who in despite of view is pleased to dote;
Nor are mine ears with thy tongue's tune delighted,
Nor tender feeling, to base touches prone,
Nor taste, nor smell, desire to be invited
To any sensual feast with thee alone:
But my five wits nor my five senses can
Dissuade one foolish heart from serving thee,
Who leaves unsway'd the likeness of a man,
Thy proud hearts slave and vassal wretch to be:
Only my plague thus far I count my gain,
That she that makes me sin awards me pain.

I was in a bar recently with a friend who was complaining that he didn't want to spend much money and that he was 'on a mission' to control his spending. Ten minutes later, a well-endowed and deliberately under-dressed pretty young woman entered the bar and caught the attention of my friend.
   'This will cost you,' I said.
   'And I'll regret it,' he replied.
During the next two hours or so my friend emptied his pockets for her and the following day he did indeed regret it. There it was, right there--the war between the head and the heart.

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