The Romantic Movement: Sex, Shopping and the Novel by Alain de Botton

– She no longer felt like seeing anyone, or rather, the absence of the one made others seem superfluous.

– A good kisser needed the skill of a violinist or a pianist, needed to know how to control and articulate every muscle of the mouth, needed to know the keyboard, rhythm and tempo, to know when to press hard and when to graze lightly and teasingly, when to open the mouth and when to apply distance. The good kisser has to control salival production and breathing rates, had to know how to sensually alter the positions of the head, to integrate the whole of the face into the kiss, to coordinate what was happening around the lips with the fingers’ exploration of the ears and the nape of the neck, the temples and the eyebrows.

How rare good kisses have been in her experience. The early ones has been perhaps predictably disastrous, either too wet or too parched out of adolescent nervousness – but even later she had found it rare for men to invest themselves properly in the act. Much of the time, they were concerned with it only as a prelude to undressing her, a polite obligatory ritual along a far broader and more ambitious designs, and once they were together in bed, thought and effort would be unambiguously directed elsewhere.

– Love lay beyond language; it could certainly attempt to sketch its contours, but like a map which indicated the qualities of a terrain, its efforts could never more than poorly approximate the sensations themselves.

– when she thought of ‘finding’ herself, what she meant more than anything was to find one self, one channel which could confer a modicum of stability repose, an end to this infernal tumble-drying.

– Genius is for the intelligent what ‘madness’ is for the dim-witted, an extreme state in which everything becomes possible, and the normal rules miraculously don’t apply.

– She had become aware of the possible insincerity of actions: the way a man might kiss and hold her hand, but his thoughts could be elsewhere entirely, an almost immoral gap existing between surface expression and underlying intention.

-…love me for my fears, my hangups, my neuroses, love me for who I am when I simply can’t cope…

– If a man remembered her way of pronouncing a certain word of a peculiarity in the way she used a fork, her tastes in books or choice of restaurants, it seemed to indicate better than expensive roses or extensive declarations that this was someone she could trust to care for her. It was out of more than modesty that she preferred a man to say, ‘Those earrings really suit you. You were wearing them last Tuesday, weren’t you?’ than for him to say,’You know, you are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known.’

It was why when Eric  happened to tell her, ‘It’s sweet watching you peel an orange,’ she smiled and felt strangely warmed by the remark. In the hierarchy of ‘I’ related thiongs, noticing her way of peeling an orange felt more intimate, far more in touch with who she was than a possibily spectacular but less detailed compliment.

– ‘Escaping oneself’; captures a vague existential weariness, a frustration at the heaviness of always inhabiting the same body and encountering a familiar cage of thoughts when the mind is activated.

– Character emerges on the basis of difference and divergence. With every difference from the next person, someone becomes more of a character: announce you like to eat raw worms or can sing out of your ears, and you will at once become remarkable. Someone who is not every person.

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