absence / absence
Any episode of language which stages the absence of the loved object -- whatever its cause and its duration -- and which tends to transform this absence into an ordeal of abandonment-- Barthes
You will recall, the last we saw the two lovers, they were overwhelmed and lying in each other's arms-- whispering softly in Japanese: 愛していますよ, she says, "I love you."
That eros （愛神）had intoxicated her in a cloud of longing and desire -- that cannot be denied. I ask, though, that you recall the cave scene (caves as female body/sexuality) when "torches of lightning blazed," and the "prisoners of lust" ("enthralled by shameless passion') make love
That was the first day of her ruin and the first cause for sorrows; for she is not moved by her appearance or reputation, now Dido no longer thinks of her love as a secret: she calls it marriage; she hides her fault by this name
Is everyone finally getting the picture?
They have made love, and she now believes they are married. Aeneas, for his part is probably thinking, "Hey, who said anything about marriage?"
And that is amour （恋愛）.
Turning back to daoism for a moment, last night I re-read a friend's work on the topic for the third time. And, if daoism urges us to put aside our various mental constructs (of Self, of how we think the world should be, etc.) and go back to the purity and honesty of childhood, I am left asking again, what if anything was Dido's reaction than a fit of love and abandonment? I wonder, if the ancients had this one 狂気の愛 (amour fou).
Burning incense and tossing oracle bones, I read Barthes like the Gialbo reads the yijing:
A classic word comes from the body, which expresses the emotion of absence (to sigh 溜息→感嘆 ): "to sigh for the bodily presence": the two halves of the androgyne sigh for each other, as if each breath, being incomplete, sought to mingle with the other: the image of the embrace 色 in that melts the two images into a single one: in amorous absence, I am, sadly, an unglued image that dries, yellows, shrivels.
So there she is-- walking over the Bridge of Sighs (溜息橋), but finds herself utterly unable to just turn around and walk back to the other side. And so in my reading, Dido does nothing （無為）-- or she does something 有為 (it's all in what direction you are facing on the bridge) but walking forward (or backward) she lies down in the flames; cursing all Trojans.
Regarding the wuwei world （無為自然）I found one japanese explanation I liked a lot-- though, I warn you I have no idea if this works for those dwelling in the State of Chu. And that is this, the kanji wei (為/为) means, "to do" and "to become" but in Japanese at least, the more common meaning of the kanji is "for the purpose of"-- and one blogger wrote how it is this that is the point of wuwei. Do not perform any action which you do for the purpose (...の為に）of something else. This means, basically, to always act in terms of ends (ends in themselves)-- never in terms of means. Being un-strategic and without ado... About Dido's heart, Brodsky said, "her love was like a fish."
Is she not the real hero of the epic?
I was listening to an In Our Time program on free will and not surprisingly, Aeneas was mentioned. Discussing the surprising lack of interest the hero has received by Hollywood, one of Bragg's guests mentioned that it may in part have been due to the hero's lack of free will. Indeed, out of all the ancient heroes, Aeneas is considered to be almost totally lacking in free will. Pious Aeneas and his duty. Controlled by destiny, there is almost no wiggle room in his mind.
But, of course, this is not the only reason Aeneas-among the ancient heroes-- has been looked down upon and sometimes even derided. For as Hubert Dreyfus said (and I agree), it's hard not to dislike him really.
For as my friend, the Count remarked :
Zeus has nothing to do with it. This is the sod part.(And it can be admirable: look at Odysseus, who is always, always, in every instance, the better man. Baby, he says to Calypso, you are everything a man would ever wish, but I love another. Calypso hates it, and can’t come to terms with it for seven long years. But in the end she does. And she does because at least she knows she is not being lied to, made a fool of, cheated. Usually — sometimes — even a woman spurned can admire character in a man).
For more, see In Praise of Heroes Not saying Stupid Things.
Barthes ends his meditation thus:
The absence of the other holds my head underwater; gradually I drown, my air supply gives out: it is by this asphyxia that I reconstitute my "truth" and that I prepare what in love is Intractable.