On Candles or (How to Ruin Things)

“What a romantic window setting you have here.”
“Romantic?”
“Yes, with the candles burning in the dusk dark window, a mug of steaming coffee at a desk, and the mirrored towers on the horizon catching the last rose rays of the sun to the west.”
“Yes, it is a warm scene. But romantic?”
“Yes. It makes me feel that I am snuggled close to someone on a Sunday evening, the space is draped with heavily knit plaids, the nutty scent of smoke is rich in my lover’s hair, and the sun is setting obscured from the window, just like that.”
“Is this a memory?”
“No, this scene just makes me feel that way.”
“Have you ever been in a scene like this?”
“No. But i find it romantic.”
“I think perhaps you find it comforting. Perhaps the components of the scene arouse your memories. Perhaps the tableau speaks of warmth, perhaps it awakens new components of warmth that are not present here: heavy fabric, smoke from a pipe, your lover’s body. But I think that your unfamiliarity with the tableau as it stands has actually led you to romanticize it, to synthesize a sensation from the collection. That sensation is warmth, and to you it is manifested familiarly in the form you described to me.
I find romance to be a misleading character. It trains us to desire things that are not present in the face of acceptable sitautions that are present. What we see in the scene before us is indeed warm and it is Sunday evening. But the present situation, had you inhabited it, lived it, is loneliness, solitude, annoyance, and oversensitivity. The candles are merely for show.”



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