WHAT IS LOVESICK?
“A crisis in love is good because it brings ostensible damage to our ideals. At the same time there are so many people who make it through their lives without significant damage. because their whole life is damaged”
The first time I read Joachim Bessings’ novel Untitled (2013) I was lying on the beach in Tel Aviv. I had lain there hundreds of times over the course of 23 years: I had gotten sunburns or sometimes even turned a healthy bronze. I’d plunged into the water or stood under one of the countless showers to experience a moment of refreshment. I had conversations or just passed the hours in silence. For 23 years. And while this beach, like so much in life, assumed this repetitive structure, unexpected moments that could stretch on for months created something which could commonly be referred to as a crisis.
Only a few months after my stay in Tel Aviv, I met Joachim to talk to him about those moments that shake the structure of the everyday and are as necessary for life as inhaling or exhaling.
IN YOUR BOOK UNTITLED YOU DESCRIBE A LOVE THAT IS NOT VERY STRAIGHTFORWARD AND PERHAPS ALSO NOT INSANELY HAPPY. WOULD IT BE POSSIBLE TO CALL THE LOVE DESCRIBED IN THE BOOK A LOVE CRISIS?
I would rather say that the moment of falling in love automatically constitutes a crisis. A crisis is a point of concentration in need of a solution, because this kind of constant concentration isn’t possible. What you probably mean by not straightforward is the long lingering feelings concentrated at the highest point, the want and the unredeemed desire. However, what I would like to ask is: what do you think is not straightforward or doesn’t create happiness, because I think what I wrote there is extremely cheering.
IN MY OPINION THE PROTAGONIST DOESN’T APPEAR TO BE INSANELY HAPPY. OF COURSE, I COULD IMAGINE THAT GETTING THROUGH THE CRISIS LEADS TO A STATE OF GREATER SATISFACTION.
You mean because he cries so much and has desire, that he’s not happy?
I WOULDN’T SAY THAT SOMEONE WHO CRIES CAN’T BE HAPPY, BUT I DON’T THINK HE’S HAPPY, BECAUSE THERE’S SOMETHING TOTALLY UNFULFILLED THERE.
What is unfulfilled? I’ll name the coordinates of fulfillment for you: He encounters a woman who triggers something in him that he never experienced before. He can meet with her, they can talk to each other, they kiss, go for walks, write each other letters. Now, what’s missing?
HE IS MISSING A TRUE CLOSENESS TO HER.
You could say that she brings him a different kind of closeness, which is also much better for him.
SHE KEEPS HIM AT A DISTANCE. MAYBE SO HE DOESN’T ENTER INTO A KIND OF SYMBIOTIC CLOSENESS WITH HER, BUT IT HAPPENS ANYWAY. IT’S ABOUT POSSESSION, THEN SOMETHING HAPPENS WITH HIM THAT IS COMPLETELY OBSESSIVE. IT’S NOT A CASE OF DISTANCE BRINGING HER TO A HEALTHY CLOSENESS. AT TIMES WHEN THEY DON’T SEE EACH OTHER, SHE’S STILL CONTINUOUSLY THERE.
There is this one moment where from his sickbed he asks her how often they’ve actually seen each other in the last few months, and she says that they were together the whole time, because he was always present in her consciousness. This is that best one could achieve. The conventional closeness that you claim for him, she already has with her husband. She is, after all, still married, and she knows what she has there. She can’t have this with the protagonist, because she absolutely wants to remain married to this man.
SHE HAS A VERY CONVENTIONAL RELATIONSHIP, THUS PREVENTING A NORMAL RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PROTAGONIST. HONESTLY, THERE’S SOMETHING SADISTIC ABOUT THIS, BECAUSE SHE TRIES TO SECURE ANOTHER KIND OF CLOSENESS, BUT SHE KEEPS THIS CLOSENESS FROM HIM, SHE EXPERIENCES IT WITH SOMEONE ELSE.
It is simply a self-confident woman that brings out the best for herself. It could be all the same to her what becomes of the others. It could also be all the same to her what becomes of her husband. But she knows exactly what she wants from both. In this sense she’s a step further than Madame Bovary. With her it’s mostly reversed, since the men have always said what they want from her.
DO YOU THINK LOVE MAKES ONE UNHAPPY?
I thought about that for almost a year. I also went to Africa to be alone and think about it. I also thought about what misfortune could mean, like pain, restlessness, or longing. But for me there is a pleasant component to longing. I find it good to be able to feel something. I believe that it’s almost the only thing that makes being human really interesting. In addition to death there is love. If you fall in love, someone comes into your life that can change everything so fundamentally in ten seconds. This is sublime and it’s worth it, no matter how much it hurts later.
I HAVE AN EXTREMELY LOVESICK FRIEND AND …
What is lovesick?
LOVESICK IS WHEN THE PERSON YOU SUPPOSEDLY LOVE DISAPPEARS BEHIND YOUR OWN FEELINGS AND EVERYTHING THAT YOU PROJECT ONTO THIS PERSON HAS MORE TO DO WITH YOURSELF THAN THE OTHER PERSON.