The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld

– There is no mystery to happiness. Unhappy men are all alike. Some wound they suffered long ago, some wish denied, some blow to pride, some kindling spark of love put out by scorn – or worse, indifference – cleaves to them, or them to it, and so they live each day within a shroud of yesterdays. The happy man does not look back. He doesn’t look ahead. He lives in the present. But there’s the rub. The present can never deliver one thing: meaning. The ways of happiness and meaning are not the same. To find happiness, a man need only live in the moment; he need only live for the moment. But if he wants meaning – the meaning of his dreams, his secrets, his life – a man must reinhabit his past, however dark, and live for the future, however uncertain. Thus nature dangles happiness and meaning before us all, insisting only that we choose between them.

    – On marriage: Satisfying intercourse does not last long in most marriages. After four or five years, marriage tends to fail utterly in this respect, and when this happens it spells the end of spiritual communion too. As a result, in the great run of cases, marriage ends in disappointment, spiritual as well as physical. The man and the woman are thrown back, psychologically speaking, to their premarital state – with only one difference. They are poorer now. Poorer by the loss of an illusion.

      – The Oedipus complex is real, but the subject of all its predicates is the parent, not the child. And it only worsens as the child grows. A girl soon confronts her mother with a figure whose youth and beauty the mother cannot help resenting. A boy must eventually overtake his father, who as the son grows cannot but feel the churning of generations coming to plow him under. But what parent will acknowledge a wish to kill his own issue? What father will admit to being jealous of his own boy? So the Oedipal complex must be projected onto children. A voice must whisper in the ear of Oedipus’s father that it is not he – the father – who entertains a secret death wish against the son but rather Oedipus who covets the mother and compasses the father’s death. The more intense these jealousies attack the parents, the more destructively they will behave against their own children, and if this occurs they may turn their own children against them – bringing about the very situation they feared. So teaches Oedipus himself. Freud has misinterpreted Oedipus: the secret of the Oedipal wishes lies in the parent’s heart, not the child’s.

      – Unhappiness is caused when we cannot let go of our memories. How are we to let go of memories? By remembering them.

      – Women are men’s inferiors. I know it is backwards of me to say so, but to deny it is folly. All of mankind’s riches, material and spiritual, are men’s creations. Our towering cities, our science, art and music – all built, discovered, painted and composed by you men. Women know this. We cannot help being overmastered by stronger men, and we cannot help resenting you for it. A woman’s love for a man is half animal passion and half hate. The more a woman loves a man, the more she hates him. If a man is worth having, he must be a woman’s superior; if he is her superior, part of her must hate him. It is only in beauty we surpass you,and it is therefore no wonder that we worship beauty above all else. That is why a woman is at her greatest peril in the presence of a beautiful man.

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