Saturday, September 25, 2004

I saw Moulin Rouge last night with Phoebe. It was good to see her again, and good to kind of catch her up on how things have been going in my life. Based on the number of people who IM me with "hey, I haven't talked to you in forever!" in their eyes, I've evidently become a hard person to contact. But Phoebe has an excuse, because she was away in Oxford when all the topics of gossipy interest went down. Anyway it was good to see Moulin Rouge again, and she was a good person to see it with.

I just got back from Pizza My Heart, where I indulged myself in their candied walnut-and-gorgonzola-and-chicken salad and a slice of pepperoni pizza liberally smothered in lemon pepper while reading Honor Harrington. Mmmm, so good. If only they had orange Slice and Mountain Dew in 24-ounce Dixie cups, that place would be the perfect non-automotive retreat. Of course that would probably invoke my roleplaying buddies in some sort of Dark Summoning ultimate straight out of the WarCraft III beta. Also, I'm listening to "I'll Make A Man Out Of You" from Mulan, which is one of my favorite songs to sing at the moment along with "Mine, Mine, Mine" from Pocahontas. Stick with me, I'm tying this all together in the next paragraph.

The way it all ties together is Moulin Rouge got me thinking about the nature of love as portrayed in movies again, and I realized afresh that I probably watch romantic movies in a somewhat odd way. Moulin Rouge proclaims itself to be about love overcoming all obstacles, and I think you'd be hard pressed to watch it without coming away with the sense that somehow, in a way you can't quite put your finger on, love did indeed overcome all obstacles. But one of the things that makes the movie great is that you also can't help but feel like somehow the Duke was right - that this is no more than a passionate infatuation. Because really, what is actually portrayed between Christian and Satine other than passion? Lots of passion, to be sure, and wildly naive and romantic Bohemian passion - but only passion. And passion is not love.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for passion. It is frequently the first aspect of love, and rightly so I think, because love is something that you have to want. But there is more to love than passion. There is discipline, and loyalty, and obedience, and reason, and ferocity. Passion will not let a love last forever, and love must last forever (why, you ask? Because it's love!). Forever requires discipline and hard work in introspection and communication, and honor and loyalty to the one you love, and the buttressing of reason when the world crashes down around your love and your passion can't find it anymore. It requires ferocity to defend it, and obedience so that it is left not in your hands but in God's (particularly true of those of us who are not yet married). And all these things must be wrapped up together with passion in a single glorious whole which overcomes all obstacles because it is superior to all obstacles. This is why I like this line from Euripides so much: ho d'eis to sophron ep' areten t' agon eros / zelotos anthropoisin, hon eien ego. There is a passion leading to virtue and self-possession / envied by men, one of whom I wish to be.

But in the movies all we ever really see is passion, and especially in Moulin Rouge. And I think at that point there's two ways you can look at a film. You can either conclude that it means what it shows, namely that if you want someone bad enough then you can have your love - or you can conclude that it means what it says, namely that love - not passion but love - overcomes all obstacles, and all you need is love. That's what Moulin Rouge means to me. It's what this song from Mulan means to me. It's what Honor Harrington means to me.

Especially Honor Harrington. All of my goddesses, with the exception of Alanna, show me what love is. But especially Honor, because her tale is so much longer and fuller. Which I suppose is why my honordates have become things almost sacred, and why the tradition has been resurrected from junior year. And why I wish, though I realize it's unlikely, that I could storytime Honor to somebody who would understand. Because above all things I believe in love.

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