Love is a magical word. Not because it brings out the beautiful feeling of belonging in each one of us and makes us more human. But because it is the only word whose meaning and significance in our lives has changed as we have grown old. From being just a word, we were introduced to in school as something or someone we like very much or enjoy, it became a feeling, a commitment and later a thought that you were finding meaning to.
On the path of love we are neither masters nor the owners of our lives. We are only a brush in the hand of the master painter.
How does love transcend?
As a kid, love was the feeling our parents had for us and we had for chocolates, sweets, and toys. As we grew love was introduced to us in school as one of the words which started with the letter L. Still sceptical to use it, as we became teenagers, we did not just know love, but started feeling it too.
As teenage passed by, the real meaning of love was understood. As time went by, you realise that love is just a word that has been placed on a pedestal and we have always expected too much out of it.
What is love?
To love is to enjoy seeing, touching, and sensing with all the senses, as closely as possible, a lovable object which loves in return.
Love perhaps is one of the most fertile subjects of literature, music, and all the arts. Various authors and physiologists have written different aspects of love and how love can have a different meaning for each one of us.
While love is something we all love, there are also things that we humans fear.
Let us see the various theories behind the word LOVE
a. Stendhal: On Love
French writer Marie-Henri Beyle, also known by his pen name Stendhal, in 1822 published a timeless work of writing which attempted to analyse human emotion. This masterpiece ‘On Love‘ was discovered as a passing mention in Susan Sontag’s diary where she wrote.
Nothing is mysterious, no human relation. “With the exception of love.
In his work he writes about the four kinds of love:
a. Love that is passionate. This was the passion of the Portuguese nun, Heloïce, the captain of Vésel, and the gendarme of Cento for Abelard.
b. Mannered Love: Which flourished in Paris around 1760 and is documented in memoirs and novels from the time period, such as those by Crébillon, Lauzun, Duclos, Marmontel, Chamfort, and Mme d’Epinay.
c. Physical affection. This is the kind of love that begins when you are sixteen. Where you see a lovely young girl who becomes your source of happiness and pleasure.
d. Vanity-Love: This is a love a man would have for a trendy lady. In the same way that they would own a magnificent horse – as a luxury befitting a young man. Vanity leads to enthusiasm, a little flattered and a little piqued. Physical love isn’t always present.
After describing the four types of love Stendhal talks about the process of falling in love. She discusses the changes that Love undergoes.
b. Kurt Vonnegut
Noted for his satirical novels that highlight the horrors and ironies of the 20th Century, Kurt Vonnegut published 14 novels, three short story collections, five plays, and five nonfiction works, with further collections being published after his death.
We Are What We Pretend To Be: The First and Last Works is a slim volume containing Basic Training. It is Vonnegut’s first-ever novella only published after his death, and If God Were Alive Today, is his last unfinished novel.
In the introduction to these books, Nanette Vonnegut, the author’s youngest biological daughter, shares a piece of the author’s life.
Most times I’d find my father in a very receptive mood to my prying questions, like ‘How many times have you been in love?’ His answer was instantaneous, and he held up three long fingers. I was relieved to hear my mother was one of them. His explanation of the merits and failures of each true love struck me as completely fair. Whether or not my mother really did not love him enough did not matter; he felt that love was lacking, and I believed him.
In an interview, she also quotes her father’s words
I think you’re allowed to be in love three times in your life
c. Dorothy Tennov’s
Dorothy Tennov (August 29, 1928–February 3, 2007), a psychologist and philosopher of science, coined the term limerence in the 1970s, based on a decade of research that included data from thousands of questionnaires, centuries of autobiographies and published personal journals, and several hundred case studies of people she interviewed from a wide range of backgrounds and life situations, all of which revealed a strikingly similar experience.
In her 1979 book Love and Limerence, she describes limerence as “an uncontrollable, biologically determined, inherently irrational, instinct-like reaction”.
People have been trying to control limerence without much success for as far back as records go, but it is remarkably tenacious, involuntary, and resistant to external influence once it takes hold… Limerence is unaffected by the intensity of our desire to call it into or out of existence at our wills… It can override self-welfare, and its power over life seems neither diminished with age nor less for one sex than for the other.
d. Jane Welsh Carlyle
Admired by Virginia Woolf as being brilliant and deeply versed in life, and by Charles Dickens as a great storyteller, with a superior talent for observation and character development, Jane Welsh Carlyle is rumoured to have authored the pseudonymously published Jane Eyre.
In a letter from early 1823, titled I Too Am Here: Selections from the Letters of Jane Welsh Carlyle her views on love can be seen clearly.
To cause unhappiness to others, above all to those I esteem, and would do anything within my duties and abilities to serve, is the cruelest pain I know — but positively I can not fall in love — and to sacrifice myself out of pity is a degree of generosity of which I am not capable — besides matrimony under any circumstances would interfere shockingly with my plans.
Gamble everything for love, if you are a true human being
Half-heartedness doesn’t reach into majestyRumi
After eight centuries also we continue to spend our lives trying hard to win something we don’t fully comprehend. we continue to define love and wager on all the wrong things: We confuse adoration, visibility, and the trappings of success with love; we confuse power with love; we confuse needing with loving.
However, the true maturity is to unlearn all the misunderstandings we have developed till now and remember the fundamental truth about love as a living prize, both vulnerable and fiercely tenacious, dazzling with Iris Murdoch’s eternal definition of it as
The extraordinarily difficult recognition that something other than oneself is real.