The G Tales: Episode 2 - Three: Or, Why Is Mono Poly Too? (Part 1 of 2)
(Sculpture by Regina Reinhardt)
“The dichotomy between selfless and selfish love is deluded because affectional types of love are necessary for our survival as a species, and are therefore not as selfless as they are believed to be. It is self-defeating because all forms of love have an erotic component, the denial of which causes unhappiness and produces substantial amounts of hatred, often enough to defeat the forces of love.” From Gaia and the New Politics of Love: Notes for a Poly Planet
“one must learn to love one before one can love many,” from Intimate Dialogs
“amor ch’a nullo amato amar perdona,” from La Divina Commedia
“love, that releases no beloved from loving” (Allen Mandelbaum tr)
The latest about G is that she’s not dead. She’s actually doing well, she tells me. Enjoying the summer, and thinking about numbers.
“Is mono part of poly?” she asks on the phone.
“How can it be,” I say, “if you’re mono you’re not poly. It’s either poly or mono. Don’t you know about those famous mono partners and the havoc they can cause, how they always manage to spoil the game?”
“But listen,” she says, “the number one is just the first in a series from one to infinity. So if you can truly love many you can love one, because one is less than many. No? If you understand infinity, the number one is easy to understand. It’s just a matter of multiplication.”
“Well G,” I say, “this is a bit utopian. The reality is that we often don’t even have the courage to love one, forget many.”
“I know,” she replies, “but love expands to infinity as well, love that is wishing the best even when nothing comes back, love that is empowerment, fulfillment of the other’s potential, love that is free of desire or possession, love that corresponds to the free vital energy of eros. Love that traverses us and weds us together in the communion of life shared on the gay planet earth.”
“Sure,” I say, “that’s how one is part of many, one love that multiplies for everyone that there is to love, like, say, a parent who loves all of his/her children, no matter how many. But when sexuality is involved, things are not so simple.”
“Let me explain it with Dante” she giggles. She’s so literary. She’s read too many books. Her mind’s so convoluted nobody can really follow her. “Three was his favorite number, did you know? Perfectly balanced and open. He’s a bit of a pain in the butt, when you have to study him in school, you know, but he did get something right: numerology.”
“What’s so good about three?”
“Well, it’s the first of the truly plural numbers, the first that looks upon the infinity of subsequent numbers and is part of them. There is the singular, ‘one,’ the dual, which is, in some cases, still singular in language, as in ‘a couple,’ then there is the plural proper, what cannot be reduced to the singular, except in poly language, where you find words like ‘triad,’ or ‘quad,’ or ‘pod,’ to indicate relationships that include more participants than a diad, or couple, can.”
“And what does this have to do with Dante?” I ask, “was he poly?”
“Oh no, but he loved Beatrice and was married to one Gemma Donati, whom he saw everyday. He saw Beatrice only once, in his entire life, and he loved her to the point that she accompanied him in his trip to paradise and back.”
“Perfect number, three,” I reflect.
“You’re getting somewhere now,” she winks. “Consider this other line he wrote, ‘love, that releases no beloved from loving,’ it’s more beautiful in Italian of course, ‘amor ch’a nullo amato amar perdona.’ It’s been interpreted for the longest time, and nobody really knows what it means for sure. Does it mean that when A loves B, then B loves A? Namely, that when someone loves you completely you cannot escape that love, that if that love is true, you will recognize it and reciprocate it? Or does it mean the opposite, that when you are touched by the vital energy of eros because someone loves you, then you start loving someone, and so on and so forth. In other words, that loves is contagious but not necessarily reciprocal. As in, A, touched by the flame of eros, loves B; and B, when touched by the same flame, will love C, who, when touched by eros, will love D, who, touched, will love E, and so on and so forth, until, many, many plural loves later, the movement may come to a full circle.”
“OMG,” I exclaim. “But that’s very messy, and everybody gets upset, and it’s so unsettled.”
“I know,” G says. “Sounds like poly, uh?” she giggles.
(Part 2 will be posted in two days)