Philosophising about the 'S'-word: Watch… and learn
In the eighth episode of United States of Tara Season 2 (Showtime), Tara helps Lynda P. Frazier prepare a neighborhood art show. They will both expose their works on that occasion. During the last day of preparations, they start chatting about their kids and their exhaustment:
TARA: I guess it’s kind of fun to think about… Life without your kids… Life just for yourself.
LYNDA (Viola Davis, Murder): Then you realize that was the only thing holding the marriage together. You know when my kids were grown, my husband and I took one look at each other and went: “OKAY, NO MORE AUDIENCE! TIME TO CLOSE THE SHOW!”
Hannah Arendt magnificently tackles the subjet of private versus public in her essay Human Condition (1958). She writes that appearance, meaning what the others see and hear, is for us reality. “The greatest forces of intimate life – passions, thoughts, sensory pleasures – lead a vague existence as shadows as long as they are not transformed (…) into objects that are worthy of appearing in public. (…) It is the presence of the others who can see what we see and hear what we hear that will assure us of the reality of the world and of ourselves.”
However, “there are very important things that can only subsist in the private domain. For instance, love, unlike friendship, dies, or rather passes away, as soon as we display it. (“Do not talk about your love. About love that can never be talked about…”) Basically foreign to the world, love can only lie and become perverted when we use it for political ends.”
At the very beginning, love is like a secret disease that we keep in our hearts without telling anyone. There are no words to put it, we do not want anyone to see it, it makes us happy and sad at the same time. Then we start sharing it with the loved one, who now knows how we feel for them. But do they? Did we manage to put into words that unspeakable tsunami that invades us, body and soul? Are the words we express, the rings we exchange, a reliable testimony of the feelings inside? Do we need a public to assure us that those feelings are real? Do we need it too to let us know that love is gone? Or are we the first to know?