Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P Kindle Notes

You have 22 highlighted passages
Last annotated on January 22, 2014

The power of her beauty, Nate had once decided, came from its ability to constantly reconfigure itself. When he thought he’d accounted for it, filed it away as a dead fact—pretty girl—she turned her head or bit her lip, and like a children’s toy you shake to reset, her prettiness changed shape, its coordinates altered: now it flashed from the elegant contours of her sloping brow and flaring cheekbone, now from her shyly smiling lips. “Elisa the Beautiful,” Nate had said without thinking when she hugged him at the door.

home, he’d read Kristen bits from Proust, and she’d get this pinched look on her face, as if the sheer extravagance of Proust’s prose was morally objectionable, as if there were children in Africa who could have better used those excess words.

Jason had a theory that girls who offer to pay on dates suffer from low self-esteem. They don’t feel they deserve to be paid for; it’s a sign there’s something wrong with the girl.

Nate realized he was having a conversation with Hannah—that is, he wasn’t going through the motions of having a conversation with her while privately articulating her tics and mental limitations. When it came to dating, his intelligence often seemed like an awkward appendage that failed for the most part to provide him with whatever precisely was wanted—dry, cynical humor; gallantry; an appreciation for certain trendy novelists—but nonetheless made a nuisance of itself by reminding him when he was bored. He wasn’t bored now.

just hate the way so many men treat ‘dating’ as if it’s a frivolous subject. It’s boneheaded.” She smiled frostily and tilted her head in his direction, lest there be any uncertainty about who exactly she was calling boneheaded. “Dating is probably the most fraught human interaction there is. You’re sizing people up to see if they’re worth your time and attention, and they’re doing the same to you. It’s meritocracy applied to personal life, but there’s no accountability. We submit ourselves to these intimate inspections and simultaneously inflict them on others and try to keep our psyches intact—to keep from becoming cold and callous—and we hope that at the end of it we wind up happier than our grandparents, who didn’t spend this vast period of their lives, these prime years, so thoroughly alone, coldly and explicitly anatomized again and again. But who cares, right? It’s just girl stuff.”

Was this so wrong? Why do women get away with pathologizing men for not wanting girlfriends? There are entire Web sites written by supposedly smart, “independent” women who make no bones about calling such men immature at best, assholes at worst. Nate wanted to argue, if only he had someone to argue with, that women want to be in relationships because on a gut level they don’t like being alone. They aren’t noble, high-minded individuals, concerned about the well-being of the nation or the continuity of the species. They simply swoon at images of cooking dinner together, of some loving boyfriend playfully swatting their ass with a dishtowel while the two of them chop vegetables and sip wine and listen to NPR (preferably in a jointly owned prewar apartment with an updated kitchen). And that’s their prerogative. But what right do they have to demonize a counterpreference? If Nate’s idea of a nice dinner involved hunching over his kitchen table with a Celeste Pizza for One and a copy of Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time, who is to say that his ideal is worse?

Nate had once suggested to Jason that there was something prurient in the intensity of his interest in other people’s lives. In response, Jason had paraphrased Bellow paraphrasing Allan Bloom: “When I do it, it’s not gossip. It’s social history.”

What began, after a few more minutes, to irritate him was that she didn’t even attempt to be engaging—made no effort toward wit or color in her replies. Only an attractive young woman would take for granted a stranger’s interest in the minutiae of her life.

He thought there was something grating about upper-middle-class New Yorkers’ love of high culture in city parks. It was so full of self-congratulation, as if a few lousy performances made up for systemic economic inequality. “Uh huh,” Hannah had said. “You know you sound like one of those, uhm, philistines who doesn’t see the use in art, right?” 

Suddenly, Nate felt a bit sorry for her. She was pretty, self-possessed, and intelligent enough, but she was fresh out of school and repeating opinions that were no doubt fashionable there. In time, she would catch the tone of New York. Her schoolmarmishness was provincial. Here it was all about the counterintuitive. She’d learn. Besides, being pretty, self-possessed, and intelligent enough would go a long way, and if she wasn’t well connected before she started dating Mark, she would be now.

When you’re single, your weekend days are wide-open vistas that extend in every direction; in a relationship, they’re like the sky over Manhattan: punctured, hemmed in, compressed.

They went to a place called Outpost, an unfortunate name, in Nate’s opinion, for a newish establishment that appeared to be patronized almost exclusively by the white people who’d begun to move into the historically black neighborhood in which it was located.

Though it was the last day of September, the evening was warm. Hannah had taken off her jacket. Underneath she was wearing a strappy tank top. It became her. She had nice shoulders. But when she moved her arms in emphasis of some point, Nate noticed that the skin underneath jiggled a little bit, like a much older woman’s. It was odd because she was quite fit. He felt bad for noticing and worse for being a little repelled. And yet he was transfixed. The distaste he felt, in its crystalline purity, was perversely pleasurable. He kept waiting for her to wave her arms again.

As if she had done anything that would have entitled him to be mad at her. Why the fuck did women, no matter how smart, how independent, inevitably revert to this state of willed imbecility? It wasn’t as if he had the emotional register of a binary system, as if his only states of being were “happy” and “mad at her.”

Nate realized he was having a good time. It occurred to him that he had more fun at parties when he had a girlfriend than when he didn’t. Being in a relationship spared him from having to hit on girls, from getting into long, boring or boring-ish conversations with girls he barely liked in the hopes of getting laid. He was free to talk to the people he actually wanted to talk to.

feel like you want to think what you’re feeling is really deep, like some seriously profound existential shit. But to me, it looks like the most tired, the most average thing in the world, the guy who is all interested in a woman until the very moment when it dawns on him that he has her. Wanting only what you can’t have. The affliction of shallow morons everywhere.” 

“Men and women on relationships are like men and women on orgasms, except in reverse,” Jason continued boisterously. “Women crave relationships the way men crave orgasm. Their whole being bends to its imperative. Men, in contrast, want relationships the way women want orgasm: sometimes, under the right circumstances.”

Documentary filmmakers were the most pretentious people in the world.

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