Point Counter Point

by Aldous Huxley

Here's another book for which I start out with high hopes. Chapter one is painfully good, offering the reader an up-close look at everything that's WRONG with love. It's a horrid push-pull dance, isn't it? And what do you do when one person has ceased loving the other but the cessation isn't reciprocal? Love's biggest blemish is that it is destined to be ever profoundly imbalanced! Marjorie still loves Walter who doesn't love Marjorie anymore. Walter resents Marjorie because Walter loves Lucy. Lucy, however, does not love Walter. How does it feel now, beyotch (Walter)??

"If you knew how dreadful love seems to somebody who doesn't love, what a violation, what an outrage..."

And, in part, that's what some of this book is about...but only some. Point Counter Point is to books what Slacker is to movies—at least for a stretch. Following that first chapter of those tightly drawn characters, the narrative then meanders, following one character away from that scene to the next scene, and following another character away from that second scene to a third, etc. I won't say "ad infinitum," because it eventually does come back around from time to time to check in on a large main group of characters each in their turn. So, in all that, you might imagine that there are some subplots with which one resonates more as an individual reader and others not so much. Hence, I have to go back to my Leonard Maltin-esque review & reiterate that parts of Point Counter Point I enjoyed, and other parts I didn't like. That's the best way I can state it.

We'll leave love alone for a second and hit on some other broad brush strokes here. This novel is concerned throughout with how one's physical life might differ from one's affective life, and both might differ still from one's mental life. Even with the wide variety of characters represented here, you can see this theme repeated. There's also a bit of metafiction afoot here. Aldous Huxley has one of his characters, who is a writer, hit on an idea for a novel as he is sitting on the deck of a ship watching people go by him, around & around, as they take their exercise. He picks up bits & pieces of the threads of their conversations each time they come within earshot. From the experience of this auditory pastiche, he hits on the idea to write a book in such a manner. And so I ask you guys—if there are any of you out there who have already read this book or anyone I have convinced with my neither-here-nor-there review of it—isn't this exactly what Point Counter Point per se is??

But now back to love again, as there's a lot of love, & marriage, & infidelity, & cetera in these pages, despite all of the book's broader meandering.
• In 1929, in Point Counter Point, Aldous Huxley writes: "Love produced a desire to be loved. Desire to be loved begot a strained precarious belief that he was loved. The belief that he was loved strengthened his love. And so, self-intensified, the circular process began again."
• In 2010, in her online dating profile, Classic Bitch writes: "Sex engenders intimacy, and intimacy engenders sex. There's no separating the two despite the best intentions. [...] Never underestimate the power of human desire. WANTING something to be so—in the face of KNOWING it isn't—is the most powerful force in the Universe."

I feel I am keeping pretty good company.