For some strange reason, in times such as these—where I feel perpetually bored to paralysis—I find my disorganized thoughts percolating between the fine borders of love and hate. I think myself into thinking that ambiguous ambivalence is, perhaps, the only road worth taking. I claim to know nothing at all—so I write about love. In a time such as this—where my mind is freely floating, carelessly caressing the oft-cited phrases of lover’s past—I awake to discover disentangled thoughts in disorganized times. In other words, I weasel-word my way into everything and anything—that being love.
I guess love needs no introduction, but I would like to pontificate, as always. In fact, pontificating on the subject seems to be the only thing I am currently capable of doing. I am, as a human being—by all means—incapable of loving. Which is why I find love such a bothersome and curious thing.
By all means, do forgive me! Language is incompetent where rhymes are necessary. I should have been a poet—then, and only then, would I have turned out to be a perfect lover.
I do sincerely hate languages. They are such an obtuse means of reaching something so profound as…love. I mean, you spend so much time deliberating about a subject in a language that is foreign to it. Love is—Oh, God, here I go again! (using words that don’t make much sense)—continuously evading definition.
So I won’t even try—but I will.
I must confess, my own obsession with the subject began a long time ago—before time began. In other words, before time immemorial. I was quite a regular child, nothing spectacular in my own childhood. Nobody—and I do mean nobody—would have thought that I would turn out the way I did. As a child, I spent most of my time building things, running around (like most boys do), getting dirty, and finding the opposite sex morbidly disgusting—but secretly fascinating. They were—and probably are—an entirely different species, of a different stock than men. I enjoyed sports up until about middle school. Somewhere in my early teenage years, I had begun reading more books than necessary. In fact, even while I was twelve years of age, I would finish reading assigned books light-years ahead of the entire class. Eventually I phased out assigned readings and began reading whatever interested me. By high school, I would be awarded all kinds of awards in the field of the “humanities.” By sixteen, in a single year of high school, I managed to check out six hundred forty books. It may have been two years of high school, this I cannot clearly remember.
At this point, one begins to wonder what it was that I was reading. To be frankly honest, most of my readings were in fiction. However, sometime around fifteen, I had begun reading scholarly literature, psychology, philosophy, etc.
And, inevitably, I fell in love. Sweet, sweet love.
I don’t exactly remember what it was that made be become so attracted to this one particular blonde girl in my class. She had big green eyes. Maybe that did it. I fell in love—madly. I wrote her a poem and had it published in some anthology. Unfortunately, after a bit of searching, I could not locate it. Whatever. This too shall pass.
I remember one particular day, in a health class, when I seen my friend writing something that resembled a poem. He kept looking in the direction of, well, my affectionate one. Apparently I wasn’t the only guy in class writing her poems. After that, I decided that if two people loved the same girl, I would be the first one to back out. And I did.
The only thing is that I never really stopped liking her. I still had to sit next to her in class. And so I became obsessed with love and romance, marriage and sex. In other words, I hit puberty.
At this point in my life, I had begun reading literature on love, lots of literature. I mastered marriage, sex, and pregnancy. I read books and even had begun writing my own approaches and thoughts on love. By the time I was sixteen, I had decided I would publish books on love and that my first book—appropriately titled “The Battle for Love”—would become a bestseller. The book—err, the 5-page gibberish document—luckily never saw the light of day, the ink of print, or the pixels of a blog. (Thank. God.)
I was, and continue to be, a thoughtless and eccentrically horrible writer. An elite few like to read anything I write—but only the insane trod that path (to quote myself—another characteristically megalomaniacal trait of mine).
After my non-existent literary agent failed to publish my fifteen-year-old mind’s magnum opus, I vanished into seclusion. And remained there until—today. (I’m eternally glad that you found me, you!) I discovered—and continued to reinforce—the correct view that one writes only after one has mastered a subject. But—due to the fossilized remnants of my postlapsarian genes—I tend to carry the remains of my ancestor’s “fallen nature,” so I often do enjoy having my cake and eating it too. Today sounds like a good day for cake, don’t you think so?
I shall write about love—though I have yet to “master” the subject.
Ah, where should I begin? Where will my thoughts lead me?
At this point in time, I have this to say about love: do it or do not do it, you shall regret both. Whether one loves or does not love matters not—one ends up regretting either choice.
I have regretted, and continue to regret…nothing. I am an anomaly. This is probably because I tend to be somewhat hopeful in a very sadistic way. Life is good. That is my motto.
But I do think about regret. I think about the possibility of regretting. What if I were to regret this or that situation? I ask myself these sorts of questions all the time. What if this girl—this particular girl, no, that one—were to be my lover? What if we wrote books together and talked ourselves through sleep? What if… God, I do live in the subjunctive mood…
I have become somewhat particular about my thinking on love. I have become what some may call a “subjectivist.” For me, as I believe it is for everyone, love is a subjective thing. One must—and I do mean must—refrain from resorting to scientific thinking on the subject. Oh, do not get me wrong, one could read the literature, but one must never forget that the subject at hand—love, that is—is never to be confused for something objective, something to be reduced by science’s all-grasping claws. We can examine some aspects of love, just like neuroscientists can examine the qualia—that is, the subjective experience—of color. But in the process of reduction and examination, one must never confuse the scientific data about the subject for the subject itself. This happens all too often in our modern age. To continue the color example, while a scientist may be able to reduce the sensation of the color red to a specific pattern that neurons follow, one is never any closer to the color red—and its all-too-important sensation—than when one started. Likewise it is with love, while some psychologists and philosophers may teach us a thing or two about love, we are never—and I really do mean never—any closer to the quale (singular for qualia) of love than when we first started. This is, quite obviously, a problem. A serious problem indeed! We write so many things about love, yet we fail to love; we think so much about love, yet we fail to practice loving. That is truly a dilemma. We have thousands of books lining our libraries and bookstores regarding love and loving others—yet I have been left untouched; one may add: loveless to the bone. So what is, precisely, the problem? What are we doing wrong? Can anything be done?
I have spent a lifetime thinking about the subject—even, on rare occasions, I have had the pleasure of passing as a loving person—yet I have not made much progress regarding the implementation of love in our society. How does one do it? How do we go about doing it? First and foremost: how do I love?
While there are many things one could say about love, one needs to start somewhere. One cannot merely write with the preconceived notion that that which one writes would be somehow complete, in and of itself. Nothing is truly complete. As Kierkegaard remarked, “Once you label me, you negate me.” I cannot write about love thinking that what I write is somehow definitive (perfectly packaged, wrapped, sealed, and labeled)—it is not. Moreover, as Kurt Gödel has shown, even logic and mathematics appear “complete” when they are incomplete. My approach to love is somewhat infinite—I could always say more. To be honest, millions could always say more. But speaking isn’t always enough—if only millions would love more. I write as one writing love letters in the Second World War from the trenches of Germany; these letters have no particular beginning and no, hopefully, particular end in mind—I simply write because I am obligated to do so.
From such trenches, one writes with one’s blood; one writes with the ink of one’s soul, with the callouses of one’s heart. One sees with the eyes of living, warm-blooded life—raw and full of emotion. In fact, one writes with a sort of immediacy that is not always available in mundane times. One writes with one’s whole life behind, and death staring right back ahead. I write, at times, in such a convoluted manner. In order to write in such a way, I must subjectively subjectivize such a moment—I must become emotionally and experientially one with it. Only the future will determine if I have come close to such particular writing.
First and foremost, I choose to return back to that most all-important of topics: the subjectivity of love. Love is subjective. I’m sure you have all heard that before. I will merely repeat it again: love is subjective. Beat that into your hearts and head.
What may, at first, appear to be a selfless act—such as sacrificial love—may actually conceal something of more utilitarian sorts. Even the most wicked of demons could appear to love. Some people “love” out of convenience. Some people “love” out of necessity. Some people “love” out of fear. In all (or most?) of these cases, love is not really present.
But all such philosophizing merely evades the real question: what is love? I will not attempt to answer this particular question with the thoroughness that it surely deserves; rather, I will attempt to formulate a tentative, working definition.
Love is a verb that presupposes the existence of two human beings who think and act in such a way that to both subjective individuals the phrase “I love you” comes to mind upon the mere sight, thought, or mention of the Other. The act of loving the Other is holistic in the sense that both intention (i.e., the human will) is perfectly in tune and in harmonious relationship with the consequential act. When a human is in such a relationship, his or her thoughts and actions are subjectively loving and are interpreted—in most cases—as such by the Other (i.e., the one being loved). Such “loving acts,” as they are normally called, are usually self-sacrificial and reflect selfless behavior, immediate care, and concern for the well-being of the Other. Love, by this definition, may include other related acts (such as sexual expression, friendship, care, etc.) but does not inherently need to. In sum, in order for an act to qualify as being “loving,” the act must (a) be seen as loving by the subjective individual committing the act; (b) the act must be loving according to intent—and consequentially; and, finally, (c) the act must be interpreted as loving by the one upon whom such “loving acts” are acted upon. As a side note, it must also be noted that, at times, when the fruition of intent is impossible (e.g., a wounded soldier wishing to help another wounded soldier in enemy territory but inhibited to fulfill his intent due to his present paralyzed condition) such “acts” of love—though they have not been acted upon—are, nonetheless, to be considered acts of love.
The above is my current, working (limited) definition of love. It is not all-inclusive, and I do not claim it is. It is merely to function as a definition which excludes selfish acts and utilitarian acts, which may be shrouded in the cloaks of “love.” Some acts which appear loving are not so. If I love somebody because of some utilitarian good, such an act is not entirely loving. If I love my father (which is a good thing) because I wish to secure my inheritance, such an act is immediately to be excluded as an act of love according to my definition.
Now that I’ve “defined” love, back to the beginning: how is love subjective? Love is subjective because it presupposes the existence of two or more subjective human beings. Love presupposes the existence of—at least—two very different minds. Love, being a singularity (or, at the very least, an attempt at such a thing, as the union theorists would argue) encounters serious issues when presented with the issue of dual-ness: there are two or more attempting to love and be loved. Love, a single unity, encounters the problem of subjectivity. For example, if I attempt to love another girl—as I have attempted many times—such acts of love are not inherently seen as acts of love. The girl may very well see me as a threat—not as a loving person! If love is, as I do see it, an attempt at unification with another, an attempt to have an I and a You become a We, then surely love’s singularity is threatened by the existence of a mind who is not in harmony with the Other. If I love another girl, and she does not love me, such a thing, by (my) definition is not love. Love is threatened by subjectivity. We, as a species, are threatened by our subjectivity. We misunderstand and miscommunicate with others all the time. We start wars over mistakes. We hurt others due to misunderstandings. We attack others without attempting to understand them—we fail to taste the waters of their subjectivity. Love is constantly having war being raged upon it—by our very own subjectivity. Even the objective scientist (objectivity in this case is merely an illusion) cannot help but be faced with the immediate problem of love and subjectivity. Herein lies the problem of love: love demands a kind of conscious effort at organization and synchronization. For an individual to love another human, one must attempt to love the Other in the Other’s language; one must, then, be accepted as a potential human being with whom the Other could consummate love. This involves dual-wills (i.e., the wills of two different individuals), the wills of the lover and the one being loved, and, most obviously, this involves conscious synchronization—but not at the expense of losing the individuality of every individual involved.
In order for a We to exist—what some now call “we-ness”—there must be an I and a You—this is what I mean by “not at the expense of losing the individuality of every individual involved.” If the I is lost or the You (or both) then the We, too, ceases to exist. Love, then, must inherently find a fine balance between We-formation (i.e., the formation of we-ness) and the individuals involved. This, of course, is a problem for each and every subjective individual—I cannot tell you how to remain yourself. That is a job only you can do.
So how do we go about loving others? How can we increase love? Will education help? (If not, then what is the point of my writing this paper?) I do not, at the present time, have an answer. I am not sure how we are to go about doing things the right way (if such a way exists). Here I am merely reflecting on one thing and one thing only: the subjectivity of love. Love, for me, is subjective. I have offered my readers some thoughts on love. These thoughts are not definitive nor are they thorough—they are merely thoughts which, I hope, would stimulate thinking and discussion on this thorny issue.
Written by: Moses Y. Mikheyev