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LOVE ACTUALLY: Splitting the Heart Break

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B reaking up is all about sharing. It’s about dividing things like  loss, pain, memories, blame, and sometimes shame. Nobody wants to end up with all the bad feelings. If it were possible to share these things fairly, Aristotle for whom justice is partly about proportion, would say each one should get what he or she deserves.

What would an arithmetic of breaking up look like?  How do you determine who gets what amount of pain or regret or guilt? There is, of course, no direct answer to these questions.  Love is fundamentally a relationship of inequality. As we said the last time on this series, the lover and the beloved love differently. Each one gives and takes differently. Each one dreams and hurts differently. Because loving is never distributed equally in a relationship, the suffering that comes after the break up is also experienced differently. Maybe it’s the case that one person always picks more of the tab. Maybe not.

But in so far as loving is about sharing, there is always the question of injustice lurking behind every relationship. When in love, objects, emotions, body fluids, dreams, suffering, pleasure, and other such articles of love are endlessly trafficked back and forth. And even when things go bad, the one thing that does not end is sharing in the sense of dividing, of sharing the shards of a broken possibility. People only feel hurt and betrayed when this valedictory act of sharing goes wrong, when they are forced to bear all the loss of mutual friends , when they have no happy memories to keep because the past reminds them of their own victimhood, and when all the feelings of betrayal, envy, hatred, abandonment fall to their side of the deserted bed.

LOVE ACTUALLY is a series. It’s pop-philosophy of love.

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Ainehi Edoro is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches African literature. She received her doctorate at Duke University. She is the founder and editor of Brittle Paper and series editor of Ohio University Press’s Modern African Writer’s imprint.

2 Responses to “LOVE ACTUALLY: Splitting the Heart Break” Subscribe

  1. Ose October 19, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

    Well written.

  2. Love November 7, 2011 at 2:54 am #

    What about sharing album collections? The good news these days with all the kids and their “digital” music is that they don’t have to divide the cds, albums, cassettes any more. Thanks, Internet.

    This is an articulate post. The saddest part must be when the painful memories overtake the good ones. All that’s left is pain. And what’s worse is that this pain can consume. Then and only then a breakup is not a beginning of a new life, but the beginning of death. For those, I pity.

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