Ludwig Feuerbach, a 19th Century German philosopher and a big influence in my life, argues that our conception of God is an externalization of all that is good in us. We are knowing, loving, and powerful beings, who imagine that there’s a being very much like us but who is also perfect. The problem with our conception of God, according to Feuerbach, is that, in comparison, we pale. And the more perfect we imagine God to be, the more imperfect we imagine ourselves to be.
A Derivation of Love — especially in it’s latest iteration as a soft cover book, complete with the most perfect author photo ever — expresses a version of Feuerbach’s theory turned on its head.
When I look at this artifact and I hold it in my hands, I am delighted because it is the perfect externalization of a particular vision I had of myself, conceived in adolescence and played out for more than a few years in my twenties. From the cover art, to the internal layout, to the text on the back, this book is either the Desmond that Sterling wanted to be or the Sterling that Desmond wanted to be.
Either way, with this artifact, which can be effortlessly reproduced by Amazon’s mighty, and in all likelihood outsourced printers, I honour a promise I made to an earlier version of myself and, in so doing, I free myself from a self-imposed and self-created bond that is — and always has been — imaginary. The fact of its insubstantial nature is all too delightfully apparent now that it has been transubstantiated into this very real artifact.
What promises to an earlier version of yourself have you honored — or hope to honor?