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Philosophy of the modernism and postmodernism period takes twists and turns at every chance it can. As the world begins to change at a speed previously unseen, people all over the world are confused and scared of what might come next. Though today writers have taken to the internet to show the world their ideas, writers during these periods expressed the emotions human beings felt through many different genres of literature. First a man must help those around him but then the philosophy shifts to a man must help himself to gain meaning in this life. As each man struggles to find a place for himself in the world, each man is also subject to the actions of others. So each man is a master of his own destiny but yet he is also a slave to the whims of others. This knowledge scares men, women and children all over the world. Yet human beings continue to find themselves among the fear. We all find meaning for ourselves yet sometimes questions arise after we find the meaning which defines our life. Some questions being: Is this the meaning I wasted my time on? Is this worth all the time I spent alone? In “A Tree, A Rock, A Cloud” by Carson McCullers these questions pop out to me after reading the tramp’s so called “science of love”.
The tramp in the story had his heart broken by a woman so severely he believed he could never love again. While the philosophy of love today would suggest otherwise, the tramp wandered the country in isolation, searching for his lost love and searching for love itself. He believes he has discovered the science of love, his own personal philosophy he uses to define his life in the world. He never finds the woman he held to be so dear nor does he find another woman he loves as much as her even after he develops his “science of love”. The disillusionment the tramp faces after losing his first love tears down the natural beauty of what love really is. Natural not scientific I should say. Science can tell many things and uncover many truths but one thing science has no power over is the ability we have to love freely. This I believe the tramp fails to understand.
The tramp tried to fragment love. That’s like trying to tear Mount Everest apart with a rubber mallet. It can’t be done. Nor can you apply logic to love. You cannot apply logic to something that contradicts itself as much as love does. Yet the tramp did not realize this as he tried to break down love. The tramp tells the boy he speaks to “I meditated on love and reasoned it out”. All he reasoned out was how to believe he loved something or someone. He believed love was only one love. According to his “science” you could love a rock as easily and as deeply as you loved a woman or your child. This is not the case as most would agree. I myself have never loved my iPod or my car as much as I have loved my girlfriends or my family. The tramp failed to realize many things but chief among them was that love comes not from what others can give you to make you happy but rather love exists when your desire to make another happy match’s your own desire to make yourself happy. An inanimate object could never return the love that men chase, so this science of love is base on false beliefs.
Another question that comes to mind after reading the story is how can you love an inanimate object as deeply as you could a person and then loss said object? Do you react the same way you would if your parents died? If my iPod breaks (again) you won’t see me crying and mourning something that cannot be replaced with a few hundred dollars. While I won’t exactly be thrilled to hand out that money, it’s easier than losing a loved one. Once again the science of love is incorrect.
The tramp was isolated from the human world as he traveled the country developing his science. He tried to replace the love he held for this woman with a love for other things. As Thoreau once said “There is no remedy for love but to love more”. Perhaps this is what the tramp thought as he traveled the country. He could not love the woman who left him anymore so he began to love everything he could in hopes of finding a love just as strong as his first love. Although I could not find his last name a man named Jeffery once said “Love never dies, even if you have found a new love, the sweet memory of the past will continue to hunt you for the rest of your life.” So no matter what the tramp did the memory of his past love would stay with him forever. He might think about her less and less but she will never truly be gone from his heart. This is true to me because even though I rarely think of her, I can still remember the feeling I got when I held the first girl I ever loved in my arms. Such depth of love does not disappear we just become accustomed to the lost. Once again the science of love could not explain the true depth of love.
The tramp should have labeled this theory on love as the philosophy of love because that’s all it really is. To use the world science is to imply that there are hard facts behind the theory.
This work of literature aimed to create a fragmentation and disillusionment of love. The disillusionment came from the shattering of the naivety of what love is. The fragmentation came from the attempt to apply reasoning to something as complex as love. While in the present day most would agree that this “science” is untrue and full of false perceptions, how it was received in the post modernism period reflects how the world society felt about love. With the rising of all the new sciences and the conflict of World War II, many people around the world were lost and searching for answers. At the rapid rate the world seemed to become engulfed in the war, people everywhere must have questioned when they were going to be swallowed by the war. So at a time of war love was a very precious thing. Yet what was love? For people all across time have had questions about love, and this story attempts to explain what McCullers had to think of love.
In conclusion, while this story has a spotty philosophy on love at best, it does open the mind to think a bit about love. Love itself is an experience to have in any life we might imagine for ourselves. We all must understand however that love will strike us however and whenever it so chooses. Love is an emotion and all emotions rise when we least expect them. Logic cannot be applied to emotion. McCullers tried to apply logic to love through this story but like William Shakespeare once said “To say the truth, reason and love keep little company together now-a-days.”
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