Jouer le jeu (dealing with Carlotta)

2/10/70  New York

I haven’t so many alternatives as I thought -in fact, only two: uproot the feeling, tell her to go to hell—or jouer le jeu.

Of course, it will be the second. The age of innocence is over.

This is not the end of the story—only the beginning of Phase Three.

(…)

The time of playing the game. Carlotta cannot be the center of my life, only (possibly) part of a plural center that will include work, friends, other affairs. (…)

I must appear to be strong—which means that I really must be strong. I must not offer her my suffering, my longing for her, as a proof of my love. I must not even tell her so often that I love her.(…)

I must be strong, permissive, unreproachful, capable of joy (independently of her), able to take care of my own needs (but playing down my ability, or wish, to take care of hers). Remember what she said the other day about finding me so different from the way I appeared at first (autonomous, “cool”)? It was that person she was originally attracted to. She must still sense that in me from time to time. I cannot ever show her all my weakness. I must limit my thirst for candor.

I cannot persuade her with words to love me, to trust me, to be with me. It must be done with actions. She must come to me freely. I must act as if I expect her to do that—but not say it, above all not ask her to confirm it.

Susan Sontag, As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh.

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