Tuesday, October 25, 2005

LOVE (The Answer To Human Existence)


Probably it would be better to keep this page empty, but I already start to write so now it’s too late. But in stead of writing a dry text, I’ll write this as a conversation between me and my friend Alter Ego. He will be the bold letters and me will be just “me”.

- Love?… I guess a question mark fits very well to this subject because, I think, nobody has a real understanding of love. You can ask to million people in the world but at the end you will get only some answers which hardly explain anything about this eternal feeling we all are starved for.
- Yeah you know it all huh, smartass!
- Well, not all maybe but I do have some…
- Come on give me a break.
- Let me finish first man, you don’t even listen! That’s the main problem with people. They don’t even listen themselves actually, and that’s why they mostly fail in love relations as well.
- What are you saying, you are talking crap! How can you use that as an excuse about failing in love. Life is something that always changes; people change, your expectations change, your circumstances change.. When it happens, it’s normal that people break up or looking for something new, it’s not failing in love.
- That’s a general excuse that everybody uses but doesn’t mean anything. Because our expectations and reasoning in our lives are based on the wrong ground and we do reflect these also toward our emotional life. We do have a wrong understanding and concept about our emotions and love.
- Oh yeah?..
- Yes, of course. Look everybody knows that love between people dies and fades away—we accept that if it is something very normal, that’s another problem actually!— But the real reason behind that is not only because people change. It’s a fact that plays a great role but when people do NOT know what REALLY love is, then they always will fail and try to search further.
- Ok, tell me then what real love is!
- We can’t put that in one word, the words are meaningless if you want to explain that. But I’ll try. You know my favorite author Fromm had lots of things to say about it, let me read it to you. He sees love as an art and I am totally agree with him:

“Is love an art? Then it requires knowledge and effort. Or is love a pleasant sensation, which to experience is a matter of chance, something one "falls into" if one is lucky?.. The majority of people today believe in the latter.
Not that people think that love is not important. They are starved for it; they watch endless numbers of films about happy and unhappy love stories, they listen to hundreds of trashy songs about love—yet hardly anyone thinks that there is anything that needs to be learned about love. This peculiar attitude is based on several premises which either singly or combined tend to uphold it. Most people see the problem of love primarily as that of being loved rather than that of loving, of one's capacity to love. Hence the problem to them is how to be loved, how to be lovable. In pursuit of this aim they follow several paths. One, which is especially used by men, is to be successful, to be as powerful and rich as the social margin of one's position permits. Another, used especially by women, is to make oneself attractive, by cultivating one's body, dress, etc. Other ways of making, oneself attractive, used both by men and women, are to develop pleasant manners, interesting conversation, to be helpful, modest, inoffensive. Many of the ways to make oneself lovable are the same as those used to make oneself successful, "to win friends and influence people." As a matter of fact, what most people in our culture mean by being lovable is essentially a mixture between being popular and having sex appeal.
A second premise behind the attitude that there is nothing to be learned about love is the assumption that the problem of love is the problem of an object, not the problem of a faculty. People think that to love is simple, but that to find the right object to love—or to be loved by—is difficult. This attitude has several reasons rooted in the development of modern society. One reason is the great change which occurred in the twentieth century with respect to the choice of a ‘love object.’ "

- So, these intellectual words don’t explain anything to me?! You still didn’t say what love is?
- If you stop talking maybe you will understand! Love is a difficult subject, every culture in the world has a certain understanding of it. Maybe it’s the only general thing in our world that we people do commonly share. Of course in the course of time our understanding about love is changed. In traditional cultures this wasn’t a personal experience which might lead to a marriage or a certain commitment, but mostly was a conventional commitment; it was concluded on the basis of social considerations, and love was supposed to develop once the marriage had been concluded. The idea of “romantic love” has developed lately in our modern society, but while considerations of a conventional nature are not entirely absent, to a vast extent people are in search of “romantic love”, of the personal experience of love which then should lead to marriage or kind of commitment. This new concept of freedom in love must have greatly enhanced the importance of the object as against the importance of the function.
- What?!.. Object, function, what do you mean?..
- Look, our modern society has some certain, economical structure. I’ll borrow Fromm’s words again:
“Closely related to this factor is another feature characteristic of contemporary culture. Our whole culture is based on the appetite for buying, on the idea of a mutually favorable exchange. Modern man's happiness consists in the thrill of looking at the shop windows, and in buying all that he can afford to buy, either for cash or on installments. He (or she) looks at people in a similar way. For the man an attractive girl--and for the woman an attractive man--are the prizes they are after. ‘Attractive’ usually means a nice package of qualities which are popular and sought after on the personality market. What specifically makes a person attractive depends on the fashion of the time, physically as well as mentally.”

- Do you mean our social and economical structure in the society has effects on our emotional world, how we understand and behave against “love” as subject??
- Yes, of course. If you try to deny this factor then you are completely blind. Look:
“At any rate, the sense of falling in love develops usually only with regard to such human commodities as are within reach of one's own possibilities for exchange. I am out for a bargain; the object should be desirable from the standpoint of its social value, and at the same time should want me, considering my overt and hidden as-sets and potentialities. Two persons thus fall in love when they feel they have found the best object available on the market, considering the limitations of their own exchange values. Often, as in buying real estate, the hidden potentialities which can be developed play a considerable role in this bargain. In a culture in which the marketing orientation prevails, and in which material success is the outstanding value, there is little reason to be surprised that human love relations follow the same pattern of exchange which governs the commodity and the labor market.
The third error leading to the assumption that there is nothing to be learned about love lies in the confusion between the initial experience of “falling” in love, and the permanent state of being in love, or as we might better say, of “standing” in love. If two people who have been strangers, as all of us are, suddenly let the wall between them break down, and feel close, feel one, this moment of oneness is one of the most exhilarating, most exciting experiences in life. It is all the more wonderful and miraculous for persons who have been shut off, isolated, without love. This miracle of sudden intimacy is often facilitated if it is combined with, or initiated by, sexual attraction and consummation. However, this type of love is by its very nature not lasting."

- Confusion of “falling” in love? What do you mean by that?
- Look our way of living, our existence is based on having things. We have a materialistic approach to life. Our social-economical factors play a great role to support this way of existence. We have to have clothes, house or some material things to live but we also have to have friends, family, social group, social life etc. We use the word “to have” so easily to describe this, we don’t even realize what that really means actually. If you have something that means that ‘that thing’ is in your possession, you are the owner! But this is a passive behavior, you are talking about domination. We have the same attitude against love as well. We see love as something “to have” but not something “to live” or something “to experience”. The simple term of “falling” in love is in that sense is a passive behavior. We see love as something that we can fall into it, not something we can be. “Falling” is actually a passive movement, you can’t take control on that, you just fall. This is in fact against the nature of love, which love is—and must be—an active feeling. Actually, even this simple language use shows clearly how we are so ignorant about our own emotions.
- You confused me, I have no clue what you are saying?!
- Basically, I am saying that we see love like a material thing, something that we can have. We are consumers and we consume our emotions and love as all the other things in our lives, the things that we own. But love, from its nature, an active feeling. You can’t have that, you can only experience! That’s a quite different thing. That’s why “falling in love” is temporary.
- I don’t get this.
- Look at this way: You see a beautiful pair of shoes in the shop. You are really excited about them, you are dying to buy it and wear it. Whenever you see them at the shop, they give you a certain pleasure, a feeling that makes you happy. They are so attractive, you don’t even see all the other shoes. But you are not the owner, they are not in your hands—well, on your feet actually. You don’t have them yet. So you experience such an active feeling. At one day, you work hard and safe some money, you go to the shop and buy them. You feel quite happy now, you become the owner of these shoes, you have them now. For sometime they give you a certain pleasure but later they start to loose that attraction. After a while they become like any ordinary shoe in your closet. You may still like them but the feeling what you had in the beginning, when they were still in the shop, when you were not the owner, is gone now. They don’t excite you anymore like when you saw them in the shop. After that you feel such an emptiness, you want to feel the same happiness or attraction like you had in the beginning. But you don’t get that from those shoes anymore. What will you do now? You go out and search some new shoes which will give you the same pleasure, same feeling. So, you find a new one and buy it. But later you feel the same things again. So you go out and buy another one. This goes on and on because at the moment you own these shoes, you have them, you kill this active feeling you get from them when you were NOT the owner. You turn this active feeling, experience to a passive feeling. At the end you’ll have a closet full of shoes but no satisfaction, no real happiness and you’ll keep searching.
- Ok what you say might be true for material things but how can you compare this with love?
- It’s not that different because we treat our emotions also the same way as we consume material things. Look; you see or meet someone, a person you don’t know but you like for different reasons. You develop some certain desire and interest for him (or her), he/she becomes very attractive to you but you don’t have any commitment yet. You experience an enjoyment, an active feeling—like you had in those shoes—, whenever you see him/her you feel the butterflies in your stomach! And then you create an aim for yourself, that person becomes an obsession, you want to start something with him (or her), a relation, an engagement or an commitment (or even a simple one night stand which is extremely temporary and has nothing to do with love). In the beginning this person is an unknown territory for you, everything you do or share is quite exciting. You don’t have that person yet. At the moment that you start a commitment (or something), then you reach your goal—you buy the shoe—. That territory is yours now. You feel the enjoyment and happiness for a while, for some years but slowly this feeling decreases and leaves its place to an emptiness. The enjoyment is gone now. You want to experience the same active feeling again, which you had in the beginning but you don’t know how to gain it back. Then the partners look each other, find some reasons, they think that he or she is changed, their life is changed or some other reasons came between, they need time or space for themselves etc.. And now what? They broke up and go out to find a new partner who will give the same feeling again, who will bring the butterflies back into their stomachs—so they are after the new shoes— But then again they repeat the same thing, over and over again. At the end they’ll have a life full of broken relations but not the happiness they are after.
- Come on, you can’t generalize broken relations like that. People do change, when you start to know someone, you discover new sides of him/her that you may not like. What do you want, should people go on with their relation even if they are not satisfied or happy? Maybe that person is really a disaster.
- Of course when you start to know someone you’ll discover things that you didn’t know, that’s the all point! That person may be a real disaster and in that case it IS the logical thing to break up but what if it’s not the case, then what is the reason? People think it’s easy to love but it’s also easy to loose. That’s wrong, love needs courage, energy and commitment from both sides. You should work hard for love. If you think that it’s easy to loose, then you’ll loose it easily as well. Look, there is also a danger that people keep their relations without feeling love for each other. For different reason, safety, money, status, children etc. Maybe they don’t broke up but then they replace their love with something else towards their relation and live in this illusion of love, that’s also not right. But that doesn’t change the question of why people loose their love for each other. You shouldn’t look at the problem first, but you have to look where the problem comes from.
- And, where does it come from then?
- Our society, our culture has a very complex structure as well as the human psychology. Naturally concept of love, as we understood, is strongly related and influenced by these factors. We learn different forms of love, love of a family, love of God, love of nation and love of a lover… Personally I wouldn’t like to call the feeling we have for material things as love. I think love is something interactive, something productive that you can experience between two equal parts. The feeling we have for material things may be a pleasure or something else..
- Cut the crap, what’s your point?..
- Ok, ok… The capacity to love in an individual living in any given culture depends on the influence this culture has on the character of the average person. Love is a relatively rare phenomenon (in contemporary western life) and its place has been taken by a number of forms of pseudo-love. In our contemporary culture humans reduced to things, while things have taken the place of humans. Modern capitalism needs men who co-operate smoothly and in large numbers; who want to consume more and more; and whose tastes are standardized and can be easily influenced and anticipated. What is the outcome? Modern man is alienated from himself, from his fellow men, and from nature. He has been transformed into a commodity. Palliatives to this alienation: routine of amusement, passive consumption of sounds and sights, buying new things, exchanging them for others. Modern men live and experience his feelings like an automaton. And automatons cannot love; they can exchange their ‘personality packages’ and hope for a fair bargain. One of the most significant expressions of love, and especially of marriage and commitments with this alienated structure, is the idea of the “team”. All this kind of relationship amounts to is the well-oiled relationship between two persons who remain strangers all their lives, who never arrive at a “central relationship”, but who treat each other with courtesy and who attempt to make each other feel better. Love as mutual sexual satisfaction, and love as ‘teamwork’ and as haven from aloneness, are the two ‘normal’ forms of the disintegration of love in modern western society.
- What you mean is that…
- Just a second, let me finish what I want to say... Our modern society has strongly transformed the idea of love to its pseudo forms. Love becomes a sentimental feeling, a phantasy, a myth outside of us to reach. The most widespread form of this type of love is that to be found in the vicarious love satisfaction experienced by the consumer of screen pictures, magazine love stories and love songs. All the unfilled desires for love, union, and closeness find their satisfaction in the consumption of these products. For many couples, seeing these stories on the screen is the only occasion on which they experience love,—not for each other, but as spectators of other people’s ‘love’. As long as love is a daydream, they can participate, as soon as it comes down to the reality of the relationship, they are frozen.
- Why is that then, I mean, why can’t people experience the love as it should be?
- Because we are very alienated from ourselves and our emotions. We are not mature enough to handle the ‘love’. In fact our experience of love is quite immature. That’s also another interesting subject to prove that how we put love in a passive context. Love should create love, that’s what I mean with the ‘activeness’ of love. People should feel the potency of producing love by loving—rather than the dependence of receiving by being loved. Immature love follows the principle: “I love because I am loved”. Mature love says: “I am loved because I love”. Again immature love says: “I love you because I need you” but mature love say “I need you because I love you”. There is an huge difference between these two and unfortunately majority of people experience immature love where love is dependent on a subject rather than love itself being an active experience. And this kind of love is not everlasting.
- I see. You have been such a smartass but you still didn’t say what ‘love’ really is.
- You still want one word to describe it, don’t you? That’s not my point. Let me try to be more specific than. Did you ever realize, if you read ‘love’ backwards it’s ‘evol’? It sounds like ‘evolve’, isn’t it? That’s the answer of your question maybe. Love is evolution, progress. Love is possible only if two persons communicate with each other from the center of their existence. Only in this ‘central experience’ is human reality, only here is aliveness, only here is the basis for love. Love, experienced thus, is a constant challenge; it is not a resting place, but a moving, growing, working together, stimulating each other; even whether there is harmony or conflict, joy or sadness, is secondary to the fundamental fact that two people experience themselves from the essence of their existence, that they are one with each other by being one with themselves.
- And we people don’t experience this you say. What is your solution then?
- If love is an art, then you should treat and learn that as an art. You should work hard, concentrated, disciplined. And all with patience. You should practice love like you should practice an art. Being aware of yourself, being able to listen, being objective and totally awaken. Practice of love is an activity, and that activity is not ‘doing something’.
- That’s easy said but it’s hard.
- Yes, but love needs courage and faith. You should see it as a free bird in the sky, without being afraid to loose it, without ‘having’ it. As long as it flies freely then it becomes stronger.
- You are a romantic idiot.
- In the love matters, yes I am.

« last ________ next »

2 Noises:

At Tuesday, October 25, 2005 4:56:00 AM, Blogger Sphinx said...


An amazing post! You have written a very intellectual post which successfully combines sociology, psychology, economics, and culture and 'love' within these contexts. I really enjoyed the references to Marx, and what you said here: "Love is possible only if two persons communicate with each other from the center of their existence." ....Well said!

This is a thouroughly good read! Find a publisher ! Bravo!

...(and he says he's not a teacher)..l

At Tuesday, October 25, 2005 7:19:00 PM, Blogger . nothing . said...

Thanks for your nice comment, again:-). But I borrowed lots of ideas from Erich Fromm, you know. He was "my teacher" let's say, I should give credit to him. I've just put his and my ideas in a different context to represent. But I am glad that you liked the post. I wish we can discuss this subject with you. I am sure it would be very educative for me as well ;-).

Catch you later in the cyberspace:-)

Take care


Post a Comment

<< Home