“The lovers bear the dual burden of Adam and Eve and of Moses. They see the promised land in their longing’s imagination and enter it only to be expelled from it. Behold the lovers who find in their embrace the illusion of complete union and in fleeting moments even its reality, only to awaken alone in the embrace of another lover.” Hans Morgenthau

Leonard Campbell Taylor, Persuasion, 1914.

Leonard Campbell Taylor, Persuasion, 1914.

 

Loneliness: Power and Love

29. Unknown Artist, LOC - Country Courtship, mid 19th Century
Country Courtship, Library of Congress

 

“Of all creatures, only man is capable of loneliness because only he is in need of not being alone, without being able in the end to escape being alone. It is that striving to escape his loneliness which gives the impetus to both the lust for power and the longing for love, and it is the inability to escape that loneliness, either at all or for more than a moment, that creates the tension between longing and lack of achievement, which is the tragedy of both power and love.

In that existential loneliness man’s insufficiency manifests itself. He cannot fulfill himself, he cannot become what he is destined to be, by his own effort, in isolation from other beings. The awareness of that insufficiency drives him on in search of love and power. It drives him on to seek the extension of his self in offspring—the work of his body; in the manufacture of material things—the work of his hands; in philosophy and scholarship—the work of his mind; in art and literature—the work of his imagination; in religion—the work of his pure longing toward transcendence.” Hans Morgenthau

READ MORGENTHAU’S great essay Love and Power at COMMENTARY MAGAZINE

Music and Love

American composer Edward MacDowell fell in love and married Marion his piano student while both were living in Germany. Finances caused them to return to the States and eventually buy a farm in New Hampshire where Edward would write some of his most romantic and beloved pieces of music. Critics and the public adored him.

MacDowell composed a piano piece titled
MacDowell composed a piano piece titled “Cradle Song”, Marian suffered an illness that resulted in her being unable to bear children.

In 1904 a Hansom Cab ran over Edward which seemed to contribute to growing dementia and failing health possibly due to tertiary syphilis. Lawrence Gilman, a contemporary, described him: “His mind became as that of a little child. He sat quietly, day after day, in a chair by a window, smiling patiently from time to time at those about him, turning the pages of a book of fairy tales that seemed to give him a definite pleasure, and greeting with a fugitive gleam of recognition certain of his more intimate friends.” Wikipedia

The composer at rest.
The composer at rest.

His dying wish was for a colony of musicians to delight in the magic of the little farm Marion had bought. Marion sought and found help in the form of The MENDELSSOHN GLEE CLUB which raised money to help the MacDowells. Friends launched a public appeal to raise funds for his care; among the signers were Andrew Carnegie, JP Morgan and Grover Cleveland.

Marion cared for her husband until his death and founded THE MACDOWELL COLONY. She resumed her piano career and  spent the rest of her life traveling and lecturing to support her husband’s dream.

Drunks

A top the moral high ground!
A top the moral high ground!

I’ve had my fair share of less than stellar drunken moments running with the fast crowd and trying to keep up with my boyfriends’ drinking. And then my husband’s drinking. Such was life in the 20th century. Men and women were equals. “Anything you can do, I can do better,” was my hidden mantra when the boys came round.

Yet, looking back my father was right. Nothing good comes of a girl out past 12 in a saloon. Dancing on a slippery bar and crashing down with the hanging glasses  almost landed a friend in the hospital. How many places in Hoboken were we banned from? I can’t remember.

Now what does this have to do with history? For a brief shining moment in America there came upon the land the Cult of Womanhood. People nowadays look on this period as the ultimate joke against women. They think that the sinister members of the patriarchy, rubbing their hands together viciously,  devised a way in which women could be fooled into actually believing that their role in society mattered. They forced women to think that they  were an integral part of bringing forth a civilized nation. (Note: should one sex be more moral than the other?)

Of course women did drink and get knocked up and all, but the point was that in general they were to be the torch-bearers of the high ground and were to pass it on to the next generation. You see how devious this plan was? Women kinda fell for it (even as the very few smart ones saw through it and worked for free love and the right to wear pants).

A lot of women thought being with the kids felt right and that working in a coal mine wasn’t appealing. Many thought politicians were swine and were happy to steer clear of the pig pen. While they mourned the loss of their men in battle, most didn’t want to join them. Some will say the men were just throwing the women a bone whilst they went off to do real things like make war (and do boyish things like play video games in their pajamas all day).

Notice the stereotypical drunk face (code Irish).
Notice the stereotypical drunk face (code Irish).

There were women who bucked the whole marriage and family thing and were looked upon warily until they proved their mettle. They edited newspapers, traveled the world and became spies, etc. People like to say men don’t respect women, but do women respect men? Aren’t we all a bit self-righteously pointing fingers most of the time? Do we live in a fantasy land that says women are as strong as men until they get knocked out by a drunken football player? Or that women can get drunk and high and accuse all men of gang rape? Or that teenaged boys will consider sex with a hot teacher rape? Haven’t men and women been abdicating responsibility for their actions by blaming the other sex for centuries?

None of us want the moral high ground anymore. That’s for suckers. We want to do as we please and call it some form of sublime equality instead of a race to the gutter. We’re all only one sloppy drunk night away from killing someone on the rode to our “rights.” Men and women sit equally on the bar stools. We have our rights. We want more rights. But do we have love?

The waters are muddy once the intoxication wears off. Temperance women were laughed at and their battle lost. Some went on to fight for rights and others went quietly home to their husbands (some of them good and some of them bad). Rights are about me. Love is about you. Which am I willing to I fight for?

“Have you seen that place of Charlie’s? It makes mine look like a shack.” Andrew Carnegie

Charles Schwab's NYC Estate
Charles Schwab’s NYC Estate

Shall we hate another rich man today? Maybe not today. Charlie Schwab doesn’t seem the type to hate. I’ve just met him so I’ll let you know if I change my mind. Here’s what I like:

He’s one of those people my socialist theory professor told me didn’t exist–a self-made man. Can’t we all admit self-made people are pretty great? “Born in 1862, Schwab at age 18 was a stake driver for one of the Carnegie steel mills, and at 21 chief engineer. In 1897, and only 35, he became the president of the Carnegie Steel Company, a part of Andrew Carnegie’s steel empire in which Henry Frick was a partner.” NYTimes

He considered himself lucky and quite ordinary. Sadly for the massive mansion he built called Riverside, he bought what he liked and built how he felt. No grand plans to turn his home into one of the finest art museums in the country (like Henry Clay Frick did) or anything like that.

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

All of the Richie Riches refused buying land on the “wrong side” of Manhattan, but when the land with river views that used to house the orphan’s asylum came on the market Charles and his wife jumped on it–no matter what others said! They bought a CITY BLOCK and used a less than famous architect to design a home that included “a gym, a bowling alley, a pool, three elevators and interiors in the styles of Henry IV, Louis XIII, Louis XV and Louis XVI.” Okay, that was a bit much, but still kind of fun.

.What drives a person to build such a big house? Celebrities do it all the time and I wonder about them, too. It’s kind of embarrassing, isn’t it? But then I come from puritan stock and don’t go in for bowling (shoot me first).

He lost it all in the Crash of 1929. This makes things interesting. What to do with the house? Pawn it off to the city as a new mayor’s residence? Nope. The city was having none of it. Seems even they understood the neighborhood wasn’t that impressive.

He stayed married to the same woman for 50 years and died only a year after she did. After her death he left the mansion and moved into a hotel. I’m imagining him sitting at his bedside with a drink in his hand while holding a sweet picture of wifey before going to sleep. I love when men die quickly after their women.

NY Times StreetScapes

Charles Schwab House Wiki