Love Story?

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What is love? We have been talking about this at length in RPE301 – Love, Sex and Death: so I thought students of that course may be interested in this week’s episode of ‘Imagine’ from the BBC: view it at…_A_Love_Story/

Maybe we can do some more on the blog about the nature of romantic love?


Jess says:

Love is..Nope, beats me. In terms of romantic love, my best guess it that it’s a combination of emotions that don’t we don’t usually feel at the same time, except in the case of mental illness. Hope, fear, lust, excitement, despair, anxiety, desire, anger, happiness…(the list goes on) all caused by one person (or many people in the case of polygamy?). Or maybe it’s just one emotion in itself. I think we like to attribute ‘magical’ properties to it, as if it’s beyond the realm of ‘normal’ human emotions. There’s the idea of ‘true’ love, and there’s also a lot of things we mistake for love- lust, or fondness, even hate. It could, of course, be purely biological, as much as we don’t like to believe so. It may be simply a combination of chemicals in the brain and a need to continue the human race (but what of platonic love? or objectum-sexuality?)

Shelley says:

I’m probably the only mug who listened to the entire BBC program – afterall love is THE topic of topics. The kind of romantic love discussed in the program is about the moment, not longevity. A combination of physical and emotional, the moment where detachment and rationality have no say. Detachment and rationality as respected as they are in the philosophical tradition, are the sworn enemies of love and engagement with another, an activity without past or future, warmly placed in the present. Love is hybrid because living in the present is so uncommon, the present being our greatest avoidance. The program says that the great love stories are usually ‘period pieces’ (Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, etc) because love grows as the number of obstructions to requiting love increase. In our post-modern age the obstructions to love of a generation ago – adultery, class differences, cultural differences, arranged marriages, feuding families – are no longer insurmountable. They do not present a fate which cannot be dodged in some fashion. ‘A problem’ seems to be a necessary condition for the appearance of romantic love. At this point I always get to the same place – love schmove, who wants it? I do not share the waxing romanticism of perilous obstruction. A great love story does not need Heathcliff and Cathy, for that is more a story of mental instability. Or Lizzie and Darcy, for that is more a story of social politics. Both stories, by the way, written by virginal spinsters from their imagination, not from experience. Nabokov. Pervert. (more literary porn, and abuse – and if you bought if off the internet you may find yourself on an offenders’ list for the following decade). The greatest love stories related in the documentary do not relate to everyday-ness. They are tales and archetypes, not meant to be repeated in life, just as Baba Yaga eating little children should not be a template for the discipline of naughty children. Decreasing the volume of love to ground level, to me, is simply sharing a comical moment expressed in an eyeshot across a crowded room. That moment would be endearing enough to be considered ‘love’. I thought the bluebell woods were lovely as well

Jess says:

I disagreed with the program in the sense that love needs obstruction, but I think the point may be that unrequited love is very different to love that is realised. Love that is realised is no less romantic than love that isn’t, but it’s filled with longing, because what do you want more than that which you can’t have? If you’re going to write about love, then this is the more obvious kind of love to write about, because it fits perfectly with the traditional structure of a story in which there is some sort of crisis to be resolved.As for Nabokov, whether he was a pervert or not (and how would we define it?) is irrelevant, surely? He wrote a book about a man who loved a 13 year old girl. Yes, Humbert Humbert was what we would consider a pedophile; he was attracted to young girls besides Lolita, but even when Lolita grows up, he’s still in love with her, which I suppose marks the difference between his lust for ‘nymphets’ and his love for the individual. Again, it’s unrequited love, and again, the line between love and madness is blurred and likely crossed. It’s perhaps not love at all, but obsession, but again, the line between the two is blurry.

Simon C says:

Here’s what I think love is. A concern for the welfare of another. If I love someone I want him or her to do well, and not be harmed. I will try to prevent harm from occurring to her and help her do well, supporting her in her goals and activities. I will also want to know about any effects on her welfare, good or bad. Emotions follow from this – happiness when the loved one does well, fear of any threats to her welfare. But love itself is not an emotion. It is an attitude of concern for another.There’s no difference between love for friends and family and that for a romantic partner. They all involve a concern for their welfare. The latter just also involves a desire to sleep with the person, but that’s different from love (though can be an expression of it).

Shelley says:

How about this for a philosopher’s Valentine?:I love you.I (whoever ‘I’ am) love (whatever ‘love’ is) you (whoever ‘you’ are).

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