My Plastic Ekphrastic Lover

February brings us Valentine’s Day, which got me thinking about first loves and love in general and how love isn’t necessarily about another person. We can be incredibly moved by the inanimate world around us.

There are all kinds of names for loving that which does not breathe. Anthropomorphism, fetishism, ekphrastic love. It can be a pure, aesthetic admiration like Keats’ “Ode to a Grecian Urn.” It can take on darker aspects redolent of lust and greed.

Grecian Urn Drawn by Keats

Grecian Urn Drawn by Keats

We can lose ourselves in fits of artistic appreciation. The Stendhal Syndrome affects many visitors to Florence’s famous Uffizi Gallery. Patrons experience palpitations, dizziness and shortness of breath similar to the 19th century author Stendhal who was stricken during his first visit to Italy. And I can relate. I remember finding myself in tears watching Iphigenia in Taurus, a Greek play whose words I did not understand – but which reached me on a level beyond language.

Remember the basic kinds of love we develop at an early age for a pacifier, a soft blanket, a stuffed toy: things that made us feel safe and sleep easier. For objects whose absence caused a real and painful separation anxiety.

As artists we all have our passions and we pass them on to our characters, sprinkle them throughout memoirs and elaborate on them in poetry.

What was the first object you remember loving? The first piece of art or music you can recall that transcended your reality? When you think of the protagonist in your latest story, what do you suppose are his or her major influences? Does the character listen to a piece of music over and over on headphones? Stare at a poster or painting over the bed?

What made it easier for a character as a child to fall asleep when all the lights went out? What makes it easier for you now? Come back and tell us all about it!

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