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Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Douglas on December 1, 2009
"This is an essay that contrasts two books - one that I'm recommending, and one that I absolutely do NOT recommend."

Obsession vs. Love

I suppose it's because one of the movies just came out, but several times in the last week the conversation has turned to "Why Doug dislikes 'Twilight' so much." Just to dispel one possible theory, it's not because I dislike vampire stories. No, as a matter of fact, I find vampire stories fascinating (though many vampire movies are far too gory for my tastes!) Also, it's not because I dislike the writing style. True, the writing is not great, but it's also not at all bad for a "first novel"; it doesn't stoop to the level of horrific badness that Paolini's first book attained. Granted, that's not high praise, but it's also not a reason to actively dislike a book.

The reason I dislike 'Twilight' is because it is a story about an unhealthy, obsessive relationship, which is masquerading as a love story. Far too many people are reading this story and thinking that the sort of relationship portrayed in this story is the sort of relationship they want in their lives, because the author writes in such a way that extremely unhealthy behavior appears as something to emulate.

How many times have I heard a guy brag to a girl (or vice-versa) "I can't stop thinking about you," as though it is somehow a proof of his/her love? But really, is that a proof of anything but obsession? I don't think so. Any time someone reaches a stage where they can't do anything without being distracted by endlessly rehashed thoughts/fantasies/imagined conversations with the "loved" one, then they are obsessed. They are letting real life pass them by in favor of an imagined life which can only lead to disappointment.

In his book "Le Petit Prince" (also known as "The Little Prince") Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote a chapter that talked about this kind of obsession. There is a man who is obsessed with the stars (in his mind, he owns them all, and spends all his days counting them over and over and over again). But the Little Prince makes a wise observation to this obsessed man. He says to him, in essence, "I own a flower, and I take care of it, so it is of value to my flower that I own it...but you are of no use whatsoever to the stars."

So Saint-Exupery introduces a key idea about the Little Prince's love for his flower: love always adds value to the life of the loved one, but obsession adds nothing.

And this is certainly true: the person who spends his/her life in daydreaming obsession is adding no value whatsoever to the life of another - he/she lives in that world of daydreams only for the perceived value it adds to his/her own life. It is self-serving and self-centered. This is not love, for love is NEVER self-centered.

Speaking from a mathematical point of view, obssession causes people to view life as a discrete graph, rather than a continuous graph. The obsessed person views life as a series of individual points in time - they are the points of time in which they can be with the one they are obsessed with. They spend their days counting down the hours until they can be with the "loved one" instead of realizing that there are myriad points that lie along the graph of their life which they are simply passing by, because they are so impatiently awaiting the next time they can be with the object of their obsession. They lose sight of the fact that every time and every season has its own purpose. They lose sight of the "in betweens" that God has given us every moment of every day.

Love bears all things,
Believes all things,
Hopes all things,
Endures all things.
Love never fails.

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