R. MUSIL, The Man Without Qualities
Ulrich: Then how would things stand when a love occurs between two so-called persons of different gender, which is as famous as it is gladly experienced? You probably are really partly in love with the person you think you’re loving.
Agathe: But what you’re mostly doing is simply making a puppet of him!

Ulrich: In any event, what he says and thinks in the process also has its charm!
Agathe: As long as you love him! Because you love him! But not the other way round! If you’ve once understood how the other person means it, it’s not only anger that’s disarmed, as one always says, but for the most part love as well!


Ulrich: But at first you can like the other person’s opinions, that’s often involved in the beginning: the well-known marvelous “agreeing about everything”; later, of course, you no longer understand it at all. But deeds? Does love depend on deeds?
Agathe: Only insofar as they embody a person’s sentiments. Or turn the imagination into a sort of monument!

Ulrich: But didn’t we just decide it wasn’t so much a matter of sentiments?
Agathe: It doesn’t depend on anything at all! Not on what the other person is, not on what he thinks, not on what he wants, and not on what he does! There are times when you despise a person but love him all the same.

Ulrich: Both contradictions are always present and form a team of four horses: you love a person because you know him and because you don’t know him; and you know him because you love him and don’t know him because you love him. And sometimes that grows strong enough to become quite palpable. Those are the well-known moments when Venus gazes through Apollo and Apollo through Venus at an empty scarecrow, and each is mightily surprised at having seen something there before. If, furthermore, love is stronger than astonishment, it comes to a struggle between them.

Agathe: Let’s leave it at people not agreeing, when they’re in love. But in ordinary life you must admit that all kinds of people have similar convictions and that that plays an enormous role!
Ulrich: They only think they have them!

Agathe: They agree with each other!
Ulrich: The agreement is imposed on them! People are like a fire that immediately shoots out in all directions unless there’s a stone on top!

Agathe: But aren’t there, for instance, generally prevailing opinions?
Ulrich: Now you’re saying it yourself! “Prevailing!” Since it’s necessary that we agree, innumerable arrangements of course exist to take care of the externals and delude us inwardly into thinking it so. If their influence stops, allowing reason to take over their affairs, you will very shortly see mankind start gabbling and fall to quarreling!

Ulrich: But love is precisely one of the agreement machines. It has the lucky effect of making people blind! Love blinds: half the riddles about loving one’s neighbor we’ve been trying to solve are already contained in this proposition!
Agathe: The most one might add is that love also enables one to see what isn’t there. So really these two propositions contain everything you need in the world, in order to be happy despite it! But not every love has to blind!

Ulrich: Let’s go on!
Agathe: Love of truth? You should know all about that!

Ulrich: There, too, it’s not easy to separate out the right concepts. You can love truth in many different ways: as honor, as power, as virtue, or also like pure spring water and the air you breathe, or like—
Agathe: Is that love? That way you could love spinach too!

Ulrich: And why not? Even being partial to something is a form of love. There are many transitions. And “love of truth” especially is one of the most contradictory terms: If the concept of truth is stronger, love is correspondingly less, and in the last analysis you can hardly call the honorable or even the utilitarian need for truth “love”; but if the concept of love is strong, what you might call the purest, highest love, then truth ceases to exist.
Agathe: Truth, unfortunately, arises in cold blood.

Ulrich: To demand truth from love is just as mistaken as demanding justice from anger. Emotion is injurious there. That’s the way it is: Love tolerates truth, but truth does not tolerate love. Love dissolves truth.
Agathe: Oh perhaps that’s only men’s talk!