- The Washington Times - Monday, February 14, 2000

I flee who chases me, and chase who flees me.
Ovid, "The Art of Love,"
quoted in Nathaniel Jackson's
"Love Advice for Women"

Today, of all days, a man who gives advice on love ought to be able to take some.
But Nathaniel Jackson, the compiler of a book of literary quotations called "Love Advice for Women," admits he is uneasy revealing what he found most useful personally from his project, subtitled "Everything You Wanted to Know About Love From Jane Austen to Virginia Woolf."
The 42-year-old Washington, D.C., bachelor, who has traveled to 75 countries and all the continents except Antarctica and can read three foreign languages, says, "I'm really quite shy when it comes to meeting people."
He is fine in a public setting or a large group and has "zero fear" in front of an audience when talking about work-related issues. Romance, apparently, is another thing altogether.
"If I had a crush on someone," he confesses at last, "I would find it exceedingly difficult to make the approach." He suggests that others in a similar bind should think of Virginia Woolf's words in her novel "Mrs. Dalloway," reprinted in the chapter on dating tips:
For she had come to feel that it was the only thing worth saying what one felt. Cleverness was silly. One must simply say what one felt.
"Don't get tongue-tied. Try to be natural. Because you can't sustain it if you are not what you seem," is his interpretation of her advice.
Sifting through some 200 books to collect appropriate sayings taught him, among other things, that "if [a romance] doesn't work out, it's not the end of the world."
The result a handsomely illustrated 144-page tome helped him put love matters in perspective, although he insists that "the next book love advice for men really is for me."
Mr. Jackson is his own publisher. He scouted the world for low-cost, high-quality printers and designers and has created a product at a price $16.95 that he says is less than the market average. Buyers can order the book directly from a distributor at 800/210-9663 or through Amazon.com.
A former strategic planner for financial institutions in New York, Mr. Jackson has an unusual background for his present job, which is creating a Web site called advicezone.com and putting out three books of advice on love. The third one will be for couples.
He is unusual in another way, too. Unlike most "love gurus," as he calls the writers and promoters of mass-marketed books on the subject, he never has been married. Many so-called experts in the field have been divorced at least once, he found. "It would be tacky to name them," he says.
Ovid, the Latin poet who is one of his favorites, was called "a love instructor" by the Romans of his era (43 B.C.-A.D. 17), Mr. Jackson writes in one of the summary biographies of authors that accompany his text. He notes that Ovid was married three times and had numerous affairs.
The book is organized in a way that parallels the path of love, whether or not the love is true and whether or not its course runs smoothly.
"What Is This Thing Called Love?" is the opening chapter, followed by "Fantasy Love: Symptoms and Stages," covering one of the most common maladies of our time. The final chapter is titled "Cures for Love."


Love is civilization's miracle. Among savages and barbarians only physical love of the coarsest kind exists.
From "On Love," by Stendhal.


Although Mr. Jackson recently broke up with a girlfriend of three years, he doesn't lack for female company. His ex-girlfriend is credited fully with having helped the project along, and he says they remain close. (The couple plan to dine together tonight.) .
He had the full support, as well, of the 11 fellow members of his book club, all women. "We've recruited men," he says, "but they don't stay."
The group consists of a dozen professionals who meet monthly for food and conversation in one another's homes. When Mr. Jackson's turn as host came last year, he asked the women to read a draft copy of his book and served empanadas for dinner because the project had originated when he lived in Mexico. He had gone there to write historical fiction.
A former Peace Corps worker in Gambia in 1979-81, he has a bachelor's degree from Duke University, where he majored in history and business, and a master's degree from Yale in international finance and economics. The graduate degree led to a high-pressure job in New York City's financial world. Burned out, he opted for what he calls "a sabbatical trip" to Mexico in 1991. A Yale roommate from Mexico suggested the isolated village of Guanajuato, where he could live cheaply, far from any ready entertainment sources.
The book of fiction never came about. Mr. Jackson had fallen into a fantasy love that, in part, grew out of the fact that he and his beloved "were the only gringos in town." Alas, the woman spurned him. Lacking the guidance of friends and relatives, he says, he was forced to rely for consolation on the 200-book library he had brought along for leisure reading.


Remember that time heals most wounds.
From "Maxims," by Publilius Syrus


While dipping in and out of classics by the likes of Plato, Shakespeare and Chaucer, he began making notes and building piles of quotations by category. "I decided that high-quality fiction was much less fun than combing for quotations," he says.
When the stack of cards about love advice got much higher than all the others combined, he thought about organizing them into a book.
He left Mexico to come to Washington in 1992 for a job at the Inter-American Development Bank., bringing with him 4,500 pages of quotations plus commentary material of his own. What he had done was compile a text on the lessons of love in its many forms. Convinced that his idea was the first comprehensive version of its kind, he immersed himself in academic reading on the subject.
"I wanted to be sure that I was making valid points in my introduction and to be sure what I picked had validity," he says.
Mexico was far behind him by then. And what did he learn from his own unhappy experience there?


"That I should have listened more to Ovid," he says.
When you feel like crying, laugh.
I'm not saying jettison your passion
In midcourse: my regimen is not that harsh.
Simulate what you are not, pretend the fit's abated -
Faking it will lead to the genuine thing."
Ovid, "Cures for Love."

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