Post from Saturday night….
I am reading an article about love poetry, and one of the things that popped into my head is a song I rather dislike by Justin Timberlake, Mirrors. Every station on the radio seems to be playing this song, and listening to the lyrics I began wondering if Justin realizes the implications of what he is singing.
Although the article is primarily concerned with sartorial discussions, there is a short passage that analyzes the importance of eyes in said love poems and how their description can often be rather unfavorable to the love object despite their beauty.
I don’t think Justin reads medieval love poetry, but his song is the epitome of narcissism.
In this song he sees the object of his affection as a mirror image of himself. She is his “other half,” “staring back” at him. Basically, he doesn’t see her, but rather himself reflected back to him. To take this further, he does not love her, but the image of himself he sees, essentially deluding himself into a frenzy of self love.
Returning to the article, the eyes are used to glimpse at one’s own self, and moreover how this imagery relates to the idea of heterosexual love where a man will love another by using a woman as the central figure to facilitate this exchange. In other words, as he looks into her eyes, he sees himself, and simultaneously the image of another man – usually her husband, or intended husband. So what does Justin see in his song? Himself, or the image of the perfect man he either wishes to be, or wishes to be with? The first examples that come to mind in actual literature are Proteus and Valentine in Two Gentlemen of Verona and Arcite and Palamon of the Knight’s Tale in the Canterbury Tales where the woman is used as a place holder for male love. Granted I only skimmed both quickly just now, I did not notice the eyes as prominent features for this love. However, the idea can be extended, and either way, the actual love object is displaced.
In Justin’s song he states she is the love of his life. This is love, diluted, as it has nothing to do with the actual lover, but rather what she represents, which seems to be everyone else besides herself. Nowhere in the song are her qualities outlined, physical or otherwise. Instead he compiles lists of his own traits that he can now clearly see in her.
While women all of the nation are swooning, wishing they could be the recipient of such a song, I think what a sad existence, always a stand in for someone else, but never appreciated for the self.
As for whoever the recipient was (if there even was one)…
Does she know? Does she care? Does it matter?