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Anna Karenina

hi michael,
how are you ? Yesterday night I found my mom watching a movie on TV, but the first scenes showed a rather cold winter atmosphere and I already wanted to zap over to another program (cause we have enough snow and frost in reality here in Sweden). My mom, however, insisted to watch this movie so I also stayed. After a few minutes there was a scene on a railway-platform, and a young lady leaving a train through a cloud of steam. It reminded me of a short youtube video you send some days ago, showing Greta Garbo as "Anna Karenina" in an 1934 movie. Now it appeared that we were watching a modern version of the movie, featuring Sophie Marceau as the main character. I think I probably would not have carried on watching it, unless my mom promissed that it is a great movie. She likes romances, and at the end of the film when Anna Karenina committed suicide, I realized that her eyes were full of tears. But this was very likely a sort of planned eruption of emotions, since for sure she knew before how sadly the film will finish. You know, woman can exploite emotions in a very useful way: breaking out in tears can relieve one of a lot of stress. It therefore should not be considered as a sole loss-of-control or as a sign of weakness. It can really help you to feel better later on. So in this sense, "Anna Karenina" is a very helpful movie for woman.
But except for this final scene, we had an argument with my mom, whether Anna did right leaving her husband and son for Vronski, to whom she had suddenly fallen in love with. My mom insisted that Anna did right, and that for such a great love, everything else in the world can be given up. In her opinion, a family relation that is based only on joint wealth, or material interest, or even on joint children, is a weak foundation and is not worth to sacrifice a really strong love for.
I don"t have this idea of a unique value of an ideal love, and that it represents something so extraordinary to neglect material wealth and a social status for. I could not understand how Anna Karenina left behind her easy and convenient life in the upper society and the material safety provided by her rich husband and his aristocratic family. For me it was hard to understand that she gave it all up to follow Vronski into an unknown future, only for the sake of love. Therefore, I consider Anna Karenina a males phantasy. And it is now surprise that Leo Tolstoj wrote it while he had lots of hussle with his wife. Sure, he dreamed of woman following only the voice of love, and not the temptation of material safety when they choose a partner. But thats not how woman usually feel. In the first instance, we are looking for somebody who can provide us with a safe haven for a long time. Love is optional, and might grow later. Therefore, the hype and the mystery around Anna Karenina became so long-lasting because what she did was against normal femal behaviour, whatever sociologists and femal-right activists want to tell us.

But there are exceptions, of course. And for me the best example is my mom. At least now, after her own experiences with husbands and lovers, she would clearly opt for an unconditioned love.

take care


Hi Ghazal my Dear,
Thanks a lot for your long mail, which is a clear proof that you can write not only in SMS-format. I have never considered before that Anna Karenina might be a pure males phantasy, as you suggested. There is nothing I can really contribute to the debate between you and your mom.
For sure, what you wrote about the female quest for material safety is more in agreement with sociologists theories, but also what is known from animal behaviour. So traditionally and in a large scale in society, woman do perhaps always look for a partner that provides best guarantee for a secure life. But there are also many famous examples where woman following an unconditioned love became very happy. Or do you think that this hunt for the supreme love will never end ?
But so will the hunt for material wealth. I think the fairy-tale about the fisher and his wife is known not just in Germany, but in Sweden as well. Like therein, hunting the whole life for nothing more than wealth will leave you at the end unsatisfied.

I liked your observations about the benefical effect of crying, that it will relieve you of stress. I have not tried it on myself, but very well remember when our son was still a baby, sometimes he had stress at the evening, was somehow unhappy about something, and did not want to sleep. I than use to slap him very gentle, not to hurt him, just to make him cry. It appeared, that after crying for some minutes, he became very calm and sleepy. A pediatrician later explained me that through the tears the body can get rid of stress hormones like adrenalin or cortison.
Thats probably what your mom knew instinctively, when she insisted to view the Anna Karenina movie. Ghazal, I hope so much that you don"t need tears to get rid of stress hormones. I remember that during your MSc project you have been very good of managing stress by other means.

Take Care, my Dear


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