Thursday, March 1, 2012

Do you know what love is?

"Come on, come on, lovin' for the money, come on, come on, listen to the money talk"
AC/DC, "Money Talks"
"Perhaps they were right putting love into books, perhaps it could not exist anywhere else"
William Faulkner, "Light in August"

"When you mean love you mean a big lightning bolt to the heart, where you can't eat and you can't work, and you just run off and get married and make babies. The reason you haven't felt it is because it doesn't exist. What you call love was invented by guys like me to sell nylons"
Don Draper, from "Mad Men" - watch it here

In this post I'll address the readers in second person. It's a literary device as old as the history of western culture. It might happen that while you're reading it you feel as if I were accusing you. Remember this one thing: if you are happily married, engaged, matched, still in love like students on their first crush...then I'm not talking to you. Read again carefully what I've just written. I'm going to repeat it, just to make sure there are no misunderstandings: in that case I am not speaking with you! While you're going through these lines however, what I write might remind you of someone you know who strongly resembles my interlocutors.
Done with the disclaimer, we can start now.
I'm talking to you, yeah, you who keep asking me the same question over and over again. When you ask me if I have ever known love I answer you frankly and a bit puzzled. What the hell, I'd say yes...well, actually...hmmm maybe I was a bit too young, inexperienced, immature. The problem is that I still am. Inexperienced and immature, I mean. As for the young part, well, a little less...But this hesitation, you will be thinking, means that the answer is no! I admit it, you are right. I think that the answer in fact is no. 
But at least I did believe in love and - maybe with a different attitude, due to an ever developing awareness - I still believe in it and I will always do. I am firmly convinced that this is what the real romantic spirit is about: believing that in the end love exists, even if we have never experienced it, or better, because we have never experienced it. It might be naive, silly, shallow, trivial, but without any doubt it is a romantic approach. Different from the one of those who believe they found it - love - just because they managed to achieve a pitiful series of practical goals, set, inherited, bolted to their conscience and chained to an endless sequence of previous generations.
Love? I can see very little of it around me. Especially if I consider those who look at me with a condescending air, sneering, confidently relying on their conviction of having found it - love - when I, on the other hand, admit that I have never come across it.
What love? Unions based on mutual advantage, on money, on dread of loneliness, on convention, on social duty, on orders received, on fear of disappointing someone, on attempts to cheat someone else or to delude oneself. Relations that need artificial strengthening because they lack natural strength and that as a consequence are fragile, friable, vulnerable.
Hold on, I'm not saying that all this is useless or despicable. You should come and tell me sincerely that you did it out of a sense of duty though. In that case you will gain my respect. You talk about love? I laugh at you!
If only we were talking about sex here. I would understand that. Biology, after we've taken off it layers of poetry, thought, art, music, literature, prissiness and modesty, says that this is exactly what we are made for: search, mating, reproduction. How can these relationships, these engagements and marriages as cold as ice, calculated, rationalized, planned and controlled, have something to do with sex? What kind of connection can they have with its energy, the passion, instinct, irrationality and freedom that fuel it? They are frigid, impotent, sterile relations. If there were some kind of Viagra(*) for the spirit, a soul stimulator that could trigger metaphysical erections, that would be the ideal medicine.
Keep asking me whether I have ever known love then, with the yearning of those who enjoy or find relief in a negative answer, different from the fake one they normally give. Keep asking the question to obtain a meager consolation, you will find the proof of the calcification of your heart.
At least I believed in it, and under layers of disenchantment, disillusion and cynicism, I still do. As for you, with your chemical smelling, metallic tasting and false looking surrogates, you gave it up long time ago.

(*) If you'd like to read a nice (so to speak) little story about Viagra, and I mean the real thing now, you can click here.

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