, Newburyport, MA


February 14, 2014

Love: its comings and goings


And each woman was beautiful, but who isn’t, to those who love us? In love, we are all beautiful. But we must be ourselves, for love does not seek our counterfeit.

Bettelheim said that fairy tales imply that falling in love is something that happens, while being in love demands so much more, and added that, charming as it is to be loved, not even being loved by a prince guarantees happiness.

Tyrants despise freedom, including that of love. The troubadours were not the hippies of their day — the counter-culture, as often portrayed; they were actually nobility in a part of France that spread through Europe in the 12th century. Before, there was eros, sexual desire; and agape, spiritual love. Both are impersonal. One cares little for the whole person; the other is love of neighbor regardless of who it is. As Joseph Campbell noted, agape is not passion but compassion.

The troubadours touted amor, personal love, with all its pleasures and disappointments, but which by commitment can deepen and enrich through time and loss of newness.

The democracy of love threatened not only politics, but religion. The Church controlled love and lovers and tried to crush personal love by persecuting the troubadours.

So there is also danger in love. Consider Tristan and Isolde. She was to marry a king she had never laid eyes on, and was given a potion to induce her love. Her escort, Tristan, mistakenly took a nip too, then realized that, if discovered, he had but drunk his death. But he didn’t care — even if it meant his doom in the fires of hell.

Others, like Dante and Bernard Shaw, said if you are in heaven or hell, you’re where you should be because it’s where you want to be. Why would anyone want to be in hell? Hell was a creation of the Church, and to risk or suffer for love put you right where you ought to be — where your heart is, not where someone else wants you to be.

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