Thursday, February 17, 2005

“Love is the morning and the evening star.”

The Movie: Elmer Gantry, 1960 (Richard Brooks, director and screenwriter, from the novel by Sinclair Lewis)
Who says it: Burt Lancaster as salesman/con man/evangelist Elmer Gantry
The context: This is Elmer’s all-purpose seduction line, for both individuals and groups. It’s not till the end of the movie, though, that he understands what it really means.
How to use it: To acknowledge your own hopeless romanticism.

Today's quotation is a minor atonement for the Valentine's Day posting -- not that I take any of that back, but I acknowledge dissenting views. And I wish a very happy (belated) anniversary to Mary and Jerry Maschino, who celebrated their 42nd yesterday.

It seems to me -- speaking only as an observer, not as a player -- that "love" as a noun and "love" as a verb have at least two distinct meanings. The noun is that feeling of affection, pleasure in the person's company, wonder, appreciation, admiration. The verb means acting for the benefit of that beloved object, which is a great deal more difficult than just having the feeling, and a major undertaking over any extended period of time.

Freud said that human happiness lies in true love and useful work. I can't argue with this; it's my standard toast -- but the trick is recognizing them, because neither true love nor useful work ever takes quite the form you expect.


Eric said...

. . .most excellent answer, answer girl. It appears,as sinclair lewis put it, "you sin your saved". I guess there is nothing like old time religion and a sweet kiss on a warm summer night and sparling eyes and sweet delight.

Anish Raj said...

Love is the morning and evening star what does that mean?

Ellen Clair Lamb said...

It's an elliptical construction; the word "star" is missing from the after the word "morning." He is saying that love is the morning star and love is the evening star, something permanent that shines in the dark at the beginning and the end of every day.