Surrender

Surrender — the all but final act in love and war. The humiliation of the white flag and the exhilaration of a whispered yes — how can these two worlds exist under one roof, come under the cover of this single word, surrender?

But then again the language and strategy of war have long since invaded the territory of love. Cupid was armed from birth. Conquests are tallied as notches on the player's thigh. Even marriage can be a military operation.... But my topic is surrender. How did I drift off onto marriage?

From a first-person perspective, and again in a military context, surrender is of course defeat, and therefore hardly the optimal outcome. But when surrender comes, it is because it is preferred over the imminent alternative, usually a more eviscerating defeat. Surrender saves us from certain death, or rather makes that death a little less certain. For we throw ourselves on the mercy of the martial court.

Is it so different in the case of love? Does love, when it comes, finally defeat us? Is there not a kind of ego-humiliation that occurs due to genuine concern for another? And if our defenses still hold, how can we say we are yet in love? Now, if the comparison were just, then in the crisis provoked by love, the option of surrender should arise as our next to worse alternative. That is, love's surrender should lead to hope, however uncertain, that utter annihilation will be forestalled. And is just this not so? Call that utter annihilation the loneliness of existence. Does love's surrender not save us from this? The heart's surrender — is it not just our visceral last chance bid to not die alone by dying for another? Is the bet of love not the uncertain hope to put off our isolation, perhaps thereby even to eternize our existence? "I shall be with you always."

If surrender is the penultimate act in war, what is its last act? One may sue for peace, but peace comes only if the suit is accepted. For the plaintive, that final act is experienced from the other end. To be accepted as bond-servant, captive of war, to be slave and prisoner. To be lorded over by the victors. To all this surrender opens oneself. And perhaps also to mercy. Can you see where I am going?

O you captives of love! Willing prisoners and slaves to your beloved! Are you not bond-servants of your vows? Lorded-over while you whisper, "yes! yes!", is this not after all your optimal outcome? Have you been fighting all these long years for your present ... defeat?

Come willingly to Philosophy, hands in the air. Get your mercy at the court of social reason.