BODHISATTVAS NEVER SAY GOODBYE
Love the bewigged and hydra-headed monster is a term beloved of moral blackmailers. It is the worst of shibboleths - a woolly weasel-word. Males typically mean it as 'open to sexual pursuit'; females typically mean it as 'appreciation'. For me, however (always in Dissident Mode) if I were to use the word at all, it would mean 'respectful fondness'. Thus I can apply it only to dogs and other such profound, multidimensional beings.
Fondness is a word rarely used in English now...as are the related 'lovingkindnesss' and 'wholesomeness'. It is a word without baggage, and precise: a Cordelia-word despised by the solipsistic Lears who rule and manage the planet. 'Love' can mean almost anything - according to context - or according to what the hearer wants to hear or believe - or it can mean nothing at all. It is snake medicine peddled by all and sundry. It usually involves some kind of moral pressure or blackmail, and (like Freedom and Democracy and Decency) must never be defined within the context, lest logic, reason or commonsense rear their fragile heads to challenge the hallucinatory Hydra.
It is of course not love which makes the world go round - but desire (including the solipsistic desire to keep on living!) and desire's ghastly offspring, greed.
In its usual, colloquial sense, love (especially since the neo-quasi-preRaphaelite 1960s) is a kind of sickly layer-cake which feeds the lovelorn ego. In its Romantic "archetype" (?) it came into vogue in the 11th century...in Poitiers, at the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine's father, duke William IX of Poitou, "the troubadour Duke", a sort of medieval Elton John drivelling on about candles in the wind. Interestingly, it came to France via Sufism (shame be it to say) - poets like Rumi, in fact. It has gone nastily downhill ever since. It is neither eros nor agapé, not even philia, but a wheedly kind of narcissism, which particularly appeals to the generations of indulged solipsists who were born after - say - 1950 and were deprived of an education in Latin and Greek (hence perspective) - let alone logic and metaphysics.
Naturally enough (to mount another hobby-horse) poetry has become more and more solipsistic in the anglophone hotbeds of capitalism. As the world and all its inhabitants shrink in front of the tide of money and television, so poetry retreats into the particular and the banal. It has become anecdotal particularity with no grand dimension as, for example, in Greek tragedy or The Canterbury Tales.
Solipsism is not self-love (except in the narcissistic sense). Solipsism is the commoditisation of the self, a kind of emotional death, lack of empathy, perhaps a kind of autism. (We are, after all, the autistic species - or we wouldn't need language.) It is what drives Western capitalism. It is the banal solipsism in which 'Christian' culture is mired which drives 'Islamic fundamentalists' and 'Islamists' (and myself) to raging despair.
Self-love is quite different. It is self-fondness, something conspicuously lacking in capitalist society. It seems obvious that one cannot love or appreciate anything beyond oneself before one appreciates oneself 'warts and all'. Western capitalism is designed to prevent us from loving ourselves (in shape, form or essence), so that we will keep on buying palliative, narcotic crap to mask our supposed demerits. Thus we cannot love anything else. We know only desire. Which is 'good economics', but death to the planet.
The most striking aspect of the word love as colloquially bandied about is that it is often applied to people whom one fancies, desires, lusts after - but doesn't necessarily like! How can you 'love' people without liking them ? This is quite a profound question, since missionaries (and there are lots of New Age ones) claim to love the people they destroy, but rarely claim to like them.
To the three Greek words Agapé, Eros, Philia can be added the Latin word Caritas. Which turns into 'caring' in English. Also 'charity'. And 'cher' in French which - interestingly has no noun-form (apart from chéri!).
'Charity' is a word which has been debased to 'hand-out', and nothing to do with the Good Samaritan. It can also mean 'empathy'. Caritas used to be caring for people 'holistically', giving them a comfortable death on the pilgrimage to Compostela, or inviting them into your kitchen. Now it is Médecins sans Frontières, who 'save' little children from easeful death so that they can die of HIV, cholera or violence in the slums of Ouagadougou, whence they trekked from northern Burkina Faso.
Deeply disturbing for modern airheadedness is the fierce, angry love (already mentioned) of saints, often fanatics, often seriously troubled, like St Anthony, or dangerous psychopaths like St Jerome. On the other hand, there is the subtle love of Rumi for the Truth through the entrancing form of the Wild Wise Man, Shams (which has "homosexual" overtones, but is absolutely not homosexual). Rumi's love is anti-dogmatic, and certaionly not ascetic - which is quite the opposite of the early Christian saints. The nearest we get in Christendom is the rather silly St Francis. But he had a good heart, which is something conspicuously lacking in most of those who talk about love,.
There is the Courtly Love, also mentioned above, which is the love of the unattainable. This is linked to monastic love which is the love for the unattainable, unapproachable and ineffable Godhead. But whereas Courtly Love demanded clean fingernails, monastic love condemned those with clean fingernails - quite rightly - to Hell. For you can never trust anyone who has clean fingernails, or wears a tie, or shaves.
has a wonderful, tender, self-explanatory word, now (like 'wholesomeness')
The most messy of all kinds of love is, of course, the kind that involves sex - that is to say, involves bargaining. This kind is at best a red herring in a cul-de-sac, and at worst the creation of monsters. Sex is so obviously silly that you'd think that an 'intelligent animal' would have relegated it to the dustbin of history and infantile emotion. But of course it appeals to emotional cripples - who now are Lords of Creation, and in the process of trashing the planet - not just through psychopathic consumption, but through psychopathic breeding.
As for the fabled 'ecstasy of love' the love is only the explanation of the ecstasy, which is a beneficent change in brain-chemistry brought about by fasting, whirling, powerful plants, meditation, etc. Where the ecstasy is sexual, it is brought about by the illusion of total sharingness, primordial companionship, mutual connection and understanding, which illusion is itself brought about by the desire for 'sex' to be on a 'higher plane' than the emotional prostitution is usually is.
"God is Love", say the chattering Christians. Thus they know neither 'God' (the infantile fiction who is patently and blatantly a sadist a million times worse than Stalin) nor love. But love can be turned into a god. "Love is God" say some Sufis, and God is acceptance of death, say others. God is Truth, too - even if there is no God, and Truth is just a Platonic simplistification. It gets very semantic-mystic with Rumi, and I have indeed, humbly translated 'Allah in some Sufi writings as 'Truth'. The love that Rumi equates with 'Allah is (paradoxically) a kind of polytheistic love - Freudian and Jungian at the same time, sensual and ascetic, generous and acerbic, furious and tender. This is why Rumi is still so highly thought of. He is the Shakespeare of Philosophy, but rather subtler than the crude Bard of Avon.
lurks in dark places. Let lovingkindness be FUN and silly as dogs are
silly. Dogs are the wisest people: they live in two worlds as no other
creature does. They are silly, and they are gods.
He's lovely! Why is she standing on him ?
we are evolution's
To be in
love is silly