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July 14, 2008

Nelson Algren's Rule of Relationships


"Never get involved with someone who has more problems than you do."

Ben Stein's corollary, from his column in yesterday's New York Times Business section: "The absolutely surest way to ruin your life is to have a relationship with someone with many serious problems, and to think that you can change this person."

I second that emotion.

Algren had a torrid affair with Simone de Beauvoir, who in her 1954 Prix Goncourt-winning novel "The Mandarins" wrote of Algren ("Lewis Brogan" in the book), "At first I found it amusing meeting in the flesh that classic American species: self-made leftist writer. Now, I began taking an interest in Brogan. Through his stories, you got the feeling that he claimed no rights to life and that nevertheless he had always had a passionate desire to live. I liked that mixture of modesty and eagerness."

July 14, 2008 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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"Like most advice, good theoretically, absolutely useless practically."

Only because you do not want to break habits. All advise is practical. Humans, on the other hand, are impractical.

I've made a habit of breaking other habits lately and trying out advice others have given me. You'd be surprised how well it works.

Posted by: clifyt | Jul 17, 2008 8:55:11 AM

Like most advice, good theoretically, absolutely useless practically.

Posted by: tt | Jul 17, 2008 6:50:31 AM

Does Nelson know that everybody is normal until you get to know them?
My own experience is its hard to find someone with more problems, ha. The other thing I know is you shouldn't get divorced from someone with more problems than you because then you are surely in a heap o' troubles.

Posted by: Nick | Jul 15, 2008 12:16:45 PM

From experience, I know this to be very, very true.

On a different note, I found the following to be slightly (or maybe not!) related: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25680029/

Posted by: DefinatelyCreativeEnough | Jul 14, 2008 11:00:07 PM

Ahhh...but life is so much more interesting when you find someone with a lot of problems and decide to accept them for exactly whom they are.

Posted by: clifyt | Jul 14, 2008 4:41:09 PM

Flautist's Psychiatric Help

Involvement with someone with many serious problems can make your life very difficult, indeed. But that's not the surest way to ruin it. The "absolutely surest way to ruin your life" is to NOT do something about your own serious problems. (Everybody has at least one.)

To hell with big ugly problems; you can't even change people with little tiny piffling, moderately annoying, almost endearing problems, because you can't make (barring seriously scary threat & force) people DO anything. Don't spin your wheels.

That'll be $350.00, please.

Posted by: Flautist | Jul 14, 2008 4:40:49 PM

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