how you make a story yours


As some of you may know, and if not, I tell you right now, my memory is extremely selective. My last big adaptation was to change the name of the shortstory’s name. What do I learn from it? To read, to internalize ideas… to agree or not with these is a sign of your own sense of how deep a story can touch you. And how close you let experiences come close to your emotions.

There comes the first part:

On Authenticity (from Allain de Botton)

1. It is one of the ironies of love that it is easiest to confidently seduce those we are least attracted to, an intensity of desire interfering with the requisite indifference, attraction eliciting a sense of inferiority compared with the perfection that we have located in the beloved. My love for Chloe meant I had lost all belief in my own worthiness. Who could I be next to her? Was it not the greatest honour for her to have agreed to this dinner, to have dressed so elegantly (“Is this all right?” she’d asked in the car. “It had better be, because I’m not changing a sixth time”), let alone that she be willing to respond to some of the things that might fall (if ever I recovered my tongue) from my unworthy lips?

2. It was Friday night and Chloe and I were seated at a corner table of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, a French restaurant that had recently opened at the end of the Fulham road. There could have been no more appropriate setting for Chloe’s beauty, the chandeliers throwing soft shadows across her face, the light green walls matching her light green eyes. and yet, as though struck dumb by the angel that faced me across the table, I found (only minutes after an animated conversation) that I had lost all capacity either to think or speak, able only to silently draw invisible patterns on the starched white tablecloth. and take unnecessary sips of bubbled water form a large glass goblet.

3. Out of this perceived inferiority emerged the need to take on a personality that was not directly my own, a seducing self that would locate and respond to the demands of this superior being. Did love condemn me not to be myself? Perhaps not for ever, but, if it was to be taken seriously, it did at this stage of seduction, for the seducing position was one which led me to ask What would appeal to her? rather than What appeals to me? I asked How would she perceive my tie? rather than How do I judge it? Love force me to look at myself as through the imagined eyes of the beloved. Not who am I, but who am I for her? And in the reflexive movement of that question, my self could not help but grow tinged with a certain bad faith and inauthenticity.

4. This inauthenticity did not necessarily manifest itself in flagrant lies or exaggerations. It simply involved trying to anticipate everything Chloe might want, so that i could take on the accent the part demanded.
“Would you like some wine?” I asked her.
“I don’t know, would you like wine?” she asked back.
“I really don’t mind, if you feel like it, ” I replied.
“It’s as you please, whatever you want,” she continued.
“Either way is fine with me.”
“I agree.”
“So should we have it or not?”
“Well, I don’t think I’ll have any,” ventured Chloe.
“You’re right, I don’t feel like any either,” I concurred.
“Let’s not have wine then,” she concluded.
“Great, so we’ll just stick with the water.”

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