Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Introducing the much-needed neologism: philotyflia

Women are complicated. Most men know this. But in spite of this bland statement of the obvious, there are women out there who are more complicated. I am referring to what I call European woman. European woman has wants and needs. This too seems like a platitude, but it goes deeper than this. European woman is not even so sure what those wants and needs are. She has issues. The issues are often mysterious, undefined, inscrutable, intractable, impossible to untangle, in short; complicated. European woman loves romance. She loves the thrill of meeting for the first time and the dreams and hope that germinate from those initial days filled with the ineffable joy of tenderness and excitement. But this initial happiness is always tinged with sense of fatality. What if the flame were to die out? What if my partner finds me too familiar, lapses into a boring routine and leaves me. She believes that the course of love should be replete with joyous moments, infinite pleasure, exquisite passion. In short, European woman is a philophile: she is in love with love; that is to say she is in love with unreality. This excess of illusion is what sustains her in a sense of faintly-disguised anxiety. The archetypal European woman of whom I speak is educated and ambitious, and her career often serves as a substitute for her personal longings. She throws herself into her work. As she has the misfortune to exist in a world still government predominantly by the opposite sex, she is forced to contrive a suitable modus vivendi, a way of dealing with people, and in this case, men. European woman is no novice in the science of love. If she finds herself single in her mid-twenties, she has already experienced the best and the worst of men. If she has experienced rejection in the past, the next partner will suffer the consequences. She will begin a relationship passionately, but before long, the partner will receive the covert message. An honest European woman with issues, who is genuinely smitten with her new found lover, with usually emit the covert message early on.

The problem with men in love is that they usually discard the covert message, as they them selves are so overcome with desire for the woman, their emotions being considerably overtaken by the ebullience of their reproductive urges. But this can be fatal, as they may underestimate the extent of their emotional involvement and become blinded by the illusion, that is to say, they may develop chronic symptoms of what I call philotyflia. This is a neologism which I have coined myself. Seeing as the malady is common, it is surprising that it has been left to me to invent it. Philos is the Ancient Greek for love. Tyflos means blindness. Philotyflia, then, is the condition of losing one’s perspicacity and sense of good vision through finding oneself helpless in the perilous condition called ‘being in love’. This of course is fatal for the man. He enters into a vortex of desire and wild imaginings, willfully discarding the carefully written letter he has received in his love-infected heart which contains the inscrutably covert message.
The covert message is often something like this: “I don’t want to feel trapped” “I want to maintain my freedom”. “I just have a fear that the flame will die out”. “I want you to be open-minded”. “I fear getting bored” The covert message is always ambiguous and rarely resolvable, a bit like Oscar Wilde’s definition of truth, rarely pure and never simple. European woman wants a faithful lover but not a boyfriend or a husband. She wants to be both in and out of the relationship. The condition of philotyflia is conducive to despair among sensitive men, as it inevitable leads to what old Plato himself called ‘tyflos exein pros to ophelimon’- being blind towards one’s own interests. Sounds more profound in Greek, doesn’t it! To conclude, I will leave you with an analogy. European woman is like the timid Europa herself, enraptured by the amorous bull with whom she will passionately copulate, she looks wistfully back towards the shores of her previous existence, as if in mortal dread of the reality, the inevitable end of all life’s dreams.

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