Is Love Just a Four Letter Word ?
The philosopher Plato once wrote .. “At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet.” Fast-forward over 2000 years to the present and we find it generating a mind-boggling $13 billion frenzy of spending in the USA every Valentine’s Day. Books have been written about it, songs have been sung, movies made, and whole lives built around the central premise of love. If you were able to strip everything to do with love from our cultural heritage there wouldn’t be a great deal left of humanity’s artistic endeavors through the centuries. And yet after all of this time does anyone really know what it is ? Do you ? I’m not sure I do.
Part of the confusion arises from the way we use the word. We say we love ice-cream but it’s not the same love we feel for a soul-mate; we end casual phone conversations with ‘love you’ but don’t mean it the same way as a bride looking into her beloveds eyes and saying the same thing; we might love our mom or dad but hopefully not as we love the person we have sex with; the love we say we feel for a cute puppy is probably not what Romeo felt for Juliet. Love is one of those words, like ‘shit’ for example, used by so many different people in so many different ways as to be borderline meaningless. You almost need to qualify it each time it’s used to convey what you mean with any clarity.
If you believe the words of one popular old song .."Love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage". But do they ? Traditionally in western cultures marriage was only incidentally about love. For the rich it was more about alliances of wealth and property and the preservation of blood-lines. For those less materially fortunate it was a union formally sanctioned by society where women exchanged sex and domestic duties for economic security. Not in every case, of course, and not all the time, but that played a large part. In such circumstances physical attraction or lust could certainly provide an impetus towards marriage and, once that had worn off, familiarity and common purpose could turn into mutual affection that sustained the union but those things aren’t love. Whatever love might be it is not, and never has been, synonymous with marriage.
Some neuro-biologists try to explain love as a biochemical chain of events. Based on MRIs scanning the brain activity of the smitten it’s suggested that an interplay of hormones and neurotransmitters create the state we call love with four compounds .. dopamine, norepinephrine, oxytocin, and serotonin .. being particularly critical. It’s more about the chemical cocktail partying in your brain, they say, than some inexplicable force that sprinkles stardust on your life. Love is a drug and it’s easy to get addicted. And infatuation, the initial attraction and rush of all those feel-good chemicals whizzing around your body, is very easy to confuse with love but will burn itself out in somewhere between eight months and three years according to other studies. Which may be where the old saying .. ‘marry in haste and repent at leisure’ comes from.
But there’s more than just a hardwired chemical reaction that we’re born with in order to perpetuate the species. There’s a lot of learned behavior too. A whole lot of fiction and fantasy passing as ‘reality’. Oscar Wilde said .. “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” .. and that is true not only in relation to what each of us regards as our ‘identity’, and consequently how we live our lives, but it’s also true of what we expect ‘love’ to be. We’re all actors in love stories we didn’t write. How we think of love, and experience it, and express it is the product of the movies and TV we’ve seen, the songs we’ve heard, the books we’ve read, and commercial enterprises that sell myths and images of ‘love’ which are purely fictional but, by endless repetition, shape our thinking. What we expect from love is what someone else has told us to expect from it. With love, as with almost every other aspect of our lives, we’re living a fantasy that’s not of our own creation.
So have I talked myself out of believing in ‘love’ ? Have I talked you out of it ? In times of doubt we must turn to the great philosophers of history for wisdom and I recall Lemony Snicket saying .. “However much life sucks, it always beats the alternative”. When it comes to believing in love I think I feel the same. However manipulated, distorted, fantasized, misunderstood and misrepresented it can be, and however much it may suck at times, being in love is better than the alternative.
Today is the big day!!!
When our guests arrive at our wedding tonight, they’ll be greeted by this amazing movie poster, designed by insanely talented horror artist Nathan Thomas Milliner (who is responsible for several of Scream Factory’s fantastic DVD covers, among other things).
Rachel and I decided that we’d rather not use the standard, cheesy engagement photo at our wedding, so a friend of ours put us in touch with Milliner, who knocked it out of the park with this original creation. We had it printed on 27”x40” poster stock, and it’ll sit on the guestbook table at our wedding ceremony tonight. It’s been REALLY hard keeping this thing under wraps - aside from Rachel and me, no one has seen this yet. We really wanted to keep it a surprise.
Now, it’s time to get ready for the wedding.
Smell ya later, Tumblr!
:D :D :D
Congratulations you two wonderful kids.
Austin Opry House 1977