Sometimes you don’t fall blindly in love. Sometimes you walk into it with a very clear understanding of what you’re agreeing to. At least once, I have found myself embroiled with someone who was unequivocally bad for me. Every time I returned a text message or agreed to see them, it wasn’t without full awareness of what was going on. My reason, certainly, was past care. Sonnet 147 beautifully reflected this paradoxical affair that I had fallen into once or twice. I recognised the fever, the madness, the inevitable pull of the dark creature that you are desperately trying to convince everyone else is an angel.
Whilst it may be tempting to think of oneself as a victim in these situations, I think that what is reflected in the sonnet is a certain element of empowerment. There is a sense of agency, of daring and wilful recklessness which we all lust after in our own small way. The drag of an occasional cigarette, a couple too many pieces of chocolate, not to mention perhaps driving a little too fast, or even daring to jump out of an aeroplane. I feel we’re not always adept at choosing what is good for us, which is what drew me to this particular sonnet.
Interestingly, I found myself reflecting on how the sonnet could also be a very clear description of our relationship with social media. It's widely accepted that spending too much time on the various platforms increases anxiety and depression. There is also the element of social comparison and competition that fuels the addiction, the fever. The “sweet sickly appetite to please” of always trying to present ourselves in our best light, with the right angle and pose, to get some sense of being adored through the ‘like’ function. And of course, due to the relative anonymity of the experience we find our thoughts and discourse as madmen’s are, most definitely far from the truth.A little note on the sculpture in the video. The sculpture is in the Retiro park in Madrid and is a monument to the Álvarez Quintero brothers, Serafín and Joaquín. They were playwrights who created an extensive body of work and were much appreciated in Spain. They were born in Andalucia and consequently the monument is of an Andalusian horseman and a woman in flamenco dress, such as you would see in Seville. There is a beautiful poem by Joaquín Álvarez Quintero called ‘La rosa del jardinero’ - the rose of the gardener, that speaks about a rose that blooms as a horseman rides by, and the gardener desperately tries to question the rose about what she knows about love, and what she will do without him. Will she fall blindly for this dark and mysterious figure or will she do so fully cognisant of her actions?