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A few more words about Lev Landau

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Вы как будто с другой планеты
Прилетевший крылатый дух...
Все приметы и все предметы
Осветились лучом вокруг.

Вы же сами того сиянья
Луч, подобный вселенской стреле,
Сотни лет пролетев расстоянья
Очутились опять на земле.
Николай Асеев 'Льву Ландау'

You are as if from a distant star
A flying soul with wings...
Everything shines, near and far
All peices, all signs and things.

Your radiance is so bright -
As bright as the Milky Way.
You came from a distant light
To be on this Earth today.
Nikolay Aseev `To Lev Landau'

   Often, I come across my father's psychological portraits which are, in a way, based on real cases, but have nothing to do with reality. It can be funny sometimes, but more often the absurdity of such descriptions irritates me. The exasperation grew when I watched the movie made by The First Channel. There were good actors playing in the movie, Daniil Spivakovski, for example, as my father. The character of Lev Landau portrayed in the movie didn't even remotely resemble him. I don't know how unusual my father's state of mind may seem to strangers, but it seems to me that it is so simple and comprehensible that I can easily explain it to you.
   Here is what I think about psychology: psychology is simple and at the same time, complicated. It is more or less simple when we justify motivations of our own deeds, but it becomes exceptionally complex when we try to do the same for others. When we evaluate someone else we automatically transfer our psyche and the logic behind our actions over to that person, totally forgetting that he or she is not us. Worst of all, we are certain that our conclusions are right, but there is no reason for this certainty. I agree that someone who is observant and who has acquired sufficient life experience can build a rather precise psychological portrait of a person providing that he or she is a close acquaintance of that individual. It is impossible, and I would say intolerable, to make these judgments if you only know several lines from that person's biography.
   To begin with, it is accepted, and maybe it is true, that Lev Landau was a genius. That's not the point. Saying he is a genius, "psychologists" instantly infer that a genius can't be normal; therefore, something must be wrong with him. That is the wise opinion of the people who have never communicated with those very geniuses. This odd standpoint became so popular within the consciousness of humanity that it has been considered to be an axiom. I am not going to judge all the geniuses of the world, but if my father were a genius, than I knew at least one member of that group. Believe me, there was nothing strange about him. He did not stray from the norm, if you don't count honesty, frankness and complete absence of hypocrisy as abnormal deviations. I don't exclude that there may be many strange people among brilliant ones, but haven't you ever noticed strangeness in people who are absolutely talentless?
   Very well, it looks like I'm finished with the preface. Now, I can move on from the generalities to the specific details of the man who I was fortunate enough to have as a father. I will start with his physical characteristics; he was tall and skinny (182 cm, 63 kg). He was self-deprecating, saying that he was not a body-builder, but rather a "body-diminisher". I was several centimeters taller and several kilograms "heavier" than him, and always thought that it was a good joke. I thought that everyone would understand it until I ran into somebody's assertion that these words were proof of his inferiority complex. Do you really think so? Can it be true that someone who can make this type of joke thinks of himself in such a way? I assure you that a man with these kinds of complexes would rather go to a gym and try to turn himself into an athlete. I think that there are many more people among those attending gyms that worry about their bodies than among those who prefer to lie on sofas. Also, I don't see anything wrong in exercising. Undoubtedly, it's a very beneficial activity and it's not important what has actually brought you there.
   Now I will move on to the subject that is the main reason for writing this article. I will tell you about the relationships that my father had with women. However, I am afraid you will be disappointed. Most of the stories you have read on this subject do not correspond with what really happened. Although there were some peculiarities in the manner he treated women, these peculiarities were not that strange or unusual. At least this is how I saw it. I did not discuss these topics with him very often, but I am his son and from him I inherited not only his body structure, but for the most part, I also inherited his concern for the other sex.
   Father loved beautiful women, he admired their pulchritude. If you think all men are like that, then you are mistaken. Moreover, the men for whom woman's appearance is a matter of great importance do not constitute a majority.
   If you can admire a beautiful woman, admire her face, as if you were looking at a natural landscape, a good picture, or some other work of art, just admire, not thinking about sex, then there is no need to explain anything to you. You know this anyway. "Beauty-ists" was the word my father used to call men like us. But in addition to us, "beauty-ists", in father's classification there exist "figure-ists" (for example, those who have a high regard for a woman's body) and "soul-ists," who esteem the qualities of a woman's heart more than her appearance. After watching the movie, I want to emphasize that the men who adore perfect beauty are not necessarily those who think about sex and are not the sexual maniacs that are shown in the movie. I can't understand where this idea came from. Probably, the fact that the producer and script writer were both women played a role. It's a pity that this happened, and as a result, the character described in the movie has nothing in common with my father. Nevertheless, I want to tell you about my father instead of talking about the dull movie.
   My father loved women, and they reciprocated. Was he a Don Juan? If you read at least some of the literature works devoted to this hero-lover then you know, Don Juan (or using the contemporary language "macho") is a man who loves only himself. If it is possible to call his feelings "love", then it is love of an egoist. In this sense my father was a complete contradiction to Don Juan.
   I read texts which described the numerous romances that my father had, including those with his students. That could have been a possibility if my father was a chemist or biologist. But he was a physical theorist. This field of knowledge is not very popular among beautiful ladies. I do not know exactly how many women he had, but I think that taking into account that they were ephemeral relationships, ten fingers would be more than enough to count them. If we are talking about long relationships, then one hand would be enough. Judge for yourself, if that is many or few. My goal here is not to delude your understating of the number of father's affairs, depicting him more celibate than he was. I do not consider sexual relationships to be somehow reprehensible. I do not think that this subject has to be taboo when we talk about a "great soviet scholar". Sorry, I can't write this word-combination without quotes. My father's regard to such expressions was so contemptible. He, by the way, could not stand the word "scholar", but preferred "science worker" - a man who works for science.
   But, it is not science I am conversing about, it is women. What he did not have, did not have at all, was sanctimony and hypocrisy. It relates to all sides of life, including sexual relationships, which are essential for a majority of us. Unfortunately, the field of sexual relationships has always been one of the most sanctimonious. More than that, others' love affairs have been condemned by those who do not mind to have a secret affair of their own. Things change, and the degree of ridicule of such relationships has become significantly lower in modern Russia than the way it used to be in the old Soviet Union.
   Now I want to say something about the man-woman form of connection that almost everyone knows about, but not fully accepts. For simplicity, I will talk as a man, but these things do not depend on the sex.
   Imagine that you are young and in love. Your love is so strong that you can't envision being separated. In fact, it is the first love of your life. You want to spend all of your free time with your sweetheart. But in spite of being young, you are not foolish. You have read many books, including romance books, and you know that timeless love can only exist in the fiction of Alexander Grin - "They live long and happily and died on the same day." You know it is different in real life. What do you do? You are in love right now, and you know for sure you will be in love tomorrow, but what will happen the day after tomorrow or later on? After all, it is impossible to predict a hundred years into the future. Well, you decide to get married and you are very glad that now, you will not drift apart from your love. She is also extraordinarily happy.
   Remember, you are not a fool. Today you are happy, but you understand that the day will come and these feelings will disappear. Is it a tragedy? Of course not. You are encircled by many people who somehow cope with that. You will cope as well if you want to. Let's go further. Imagine, you are not just smart, but you are inclined to Theoretical Physics and you take pleasure in solving unusual problems. I doubt that you will not attempt to foresee what lies in store for you. Let's brain-storm, I assure you that the cognitive processes of a brilliant physicist are not that diverse from those of intelligent men and women who are indifferent to Physics.
   Indeed, there are only several possibilities before you:
   1. Love is gone. You meet someone else. You get divorced with the first one and marry the other one, then the third one and you do it as many times as long as you are spirited and alive.
   2. But it can be absolutely different. Remember, Pushkin: "...but I've become another's wife and I'll be true to him, for life.'' This poetic sentence may be used for men as well as women. You can tell yourself in a very strict voice and be obedient to yourself. You may stifle any new feelings you may have before they arise. You may even be proud with your strong will which helped you resist the temptation. Thus, you can live all your remaining years. But if you are a thinking person, then you will perfectly understand what kind of life it is going to be. Everyday happiness from sex will turn into a weekly duty. You will go to the movies with your life partner, but you know that she would rather spend time with her girlfriends discussing topics such as fashion or your childrens' school teachers. You will try to go around with them, but you will be bored to death and from then on you will spend more and more time with your buddies drinking beer.
   3. You do not get a divorce but acquire a mistress and you do not think that your wife changes her lovers as often as you change your girlfriends.
   There are many nuances here, but I enumerated three basic versions. If you choose the first or second, then you are not like my father, but this is not what you need. Of course, given that my father loved beautiful women and sex, only the last version existed for him. But father did not want freedom just for himself. He understood that his partner would be faced with a similar choice. Of course, his opinion was that only a mutual freedom was possible.
   What about jealousy - you will ask. Let's discuss this together. Everyone knows what jealousy is, but where does it come from? Some may think that it is a feeling of false love. Maybe sometimes it is, but not very often. Jealousy is not a simple feeling, and its origin can be different, but love does not play the main role in it. Do you disagree? Then let's consider some examples from actual life.
   Say, you have been married for many years, but at the present moment are lying in bed with your mistress, who is your wife's acquaintance. You just had sex and she cuddles up to you and says: "Dear, you are so good and careful, but your wife cheats on you without condoms." Are you going to be jealous when you hear this? Will this jealousy display the passionate love you feel toward your spouse? Yes, we are jealous of our girlfriends even when we deceive them. Habitually, we find quite content explanations for that as if it is not serious for us, nothing more than just sex. And after all, it is not that bad. We excuse ourselves, but can't imagine it concerns our wives too. This is jealousy.
   Actually, the main cause of jealousy is a feeling of ownership given to us by evolution. Those who did not have enough of this feeling in the old and harsh times of natural selection just perished. But this was a long time ago. For centuries natural selection has not mattered in the development of mankind, but we still have a feeling of ownership and this feeling is not completely useless. As you know, this feeling has not been spread homogenously between people, but whether they have it or not is up to chance. In addition to a feeling of ownership, jealousy, and other genetic qualities, we are given a brain which we can use for thinking. So let's think together, is jealousy rational? I do not know what your answer is, but my father's answer had a single meaning. Jealousy is not only irrational, but at a greater extent, it is a nonsensical feeling, a feeling that humiliates an individual's dignity. People are born free, and infringing on somebody's feelings (even on your own wife) is an awful sin. Do you disagree? Okay, but I am not trying to convince you. I am merely describing the ways of my father.
   Now you know practically everything. Love is one of the most beautiful feelings that we can experience, and without it, life is lacking an essential part. Love can't be eternal, but it is completely compensated by the ability to fall in love again. If you do not believe that love can't be perpetual, then fall in love, fall in love intensively and mutually. It is natural that in this kind of situation you will get married and settle down to family life. I will be very glad. And we will continue this conversation in several years when you become more knowledgeable about the subject.
   But the reduction of the sharp feeling that you had in the beginning of your relationship does not necessarily mean a collapse of your family, not at all. The years that you spent side by side let you know each other very well. You became friends, you have mutual pursuits and interests, and your children require your constant attention. Everything is fine. Basically, you are an ideal family. You would live happily and enjoy your life. And you do so, but from time to time, you start to notice that the tender kiss you are used to exchanging with your wife when you come home from work has turned into a dutiful, smacking kiss. And at this moment you do not want to put your arms around her, but instead, sit on the couch in front of the TV. No longer do you come into the kitchen to caress your wife when she cooks dinner. On the contrary, you are glad that during that half hour nobody hisses at you when you switch the channel. You are thirty five, you wife is thirty two, and she is beautiful. You have sex four or five time a month and you do it with mutual pleasure. Neither you nor her want to do it more often, and you recollect sometimes with bewilderment, that for both of you just a couple of years ago, sex was almost an everyday' necessity.
   You are not rich, but you have plenty of everything. You have good friends and your mother-in-law who lives thousands of kilometers away doesn't bother you too much. What else does one need to be fully happy? It is very possible, that it's nothing. It depends on the specific person, on his or her temperament. But what if you can not picture your life without the shrilling emotions which only love can give? If you still remember how the sight of her would arouse you, not by touching her, but just the look in her lustful eyes. Should you forget about this for the rest of your life? You can do it. This is your privilege. But it has to be your own decision, a decision that you make taking your environment into account. If then, in five, ten years, you come to understand that this decision was incorrect; it will be your own mistake. It will be odd to tell your wife something like that: "For many years I have been taking care of you, buying you flowers, carrying out garbage, and even shopping for groceries. What right did you have to stop loving me?" Nobody can demand anybody's love. Love can't be under compulsion. One can achieve love, but claming it because it is "deserved" is foolish and indecent.
   Generally speaking, that is the gist of my father's views on that topic. He imagined the picture that I drew above long before he met his first woman. He understood the way one would have to live in order to be happy. You see, "man is created for happiness, as a bird for flight." It seemed to be so clear and obvious to him that he was very surprised by other people's incomprehension. So he wished to share his theory of "intimate life" with his associates, and his only aim was to make people a little happier.
   "The non-aggression pact for a married couple", an agreement that spouses can't interfere into each other's private or sexual life, followed directly from it. Father asked, or rather required, this promise from my mother before they started living together. But he did it not because he tried to hurt her somehow, but most likely he craved her to understand what awaited her. He, himself, did not envisage a different life. He knew what might and what had to happen. He really wanted to make the life of his partner happy, not just his own life. Did he get it? Yes, and no. But I am certain that if someone would have asked my mother if she would agree to go through their life together all over again, providing she knew everything beforehand, she would have not hesitated a minute.
   In conclusion, I want to repeat one more time what I have already written in the other articles. My father was an idealist. He sensed people to be better than they really were. That's exactly why all his life he believed in socialist ideals. That's also why he thought that everyone would cross out the conception of jealousy from each other's hearts and minds after they understood how absurd it was.
   Well, real life does not always coincide with our ideals. We can't have socialism not because the socialist ideas are bad, but because we are not good enough for them. The same applies to jealousy. Each of us is ready to recognize its unreasonableness, but only until it's about himself- or herself. So we hide our adventures from our life companions. We hide them because we perfectly understand what our candor will lead to. We hide ours, but we often try to find out what is going on with our spouses. Most likely, I should not tell you what happens when we know about their infidelity. Do you feel that is correct? It is your right to think so. But I am sorry, I can't agree with you.
   Of course, my father was by far, not the first person to "invent" that way of cohabitating. He was neither the first, nor the last, nor was he the only one. He was one of "them", those few who realized that if we want to be happy, we have to except the way life is. But there was something that he did not understand. He did not understand that many people do not need happiness in love and would prefer to be in easy and quite circumstances, and I will not attempt to throw a stone at them. This is their choice and I wish everything would be all right for them.

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