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Facets of love


Oleksandr Panasyev asks the eternal question:

What is love? But does he find an answer?


Love in all of its aspects  or the absence of love  has been one of the most explored subjects of western literature since Sappho (6th century BC) and early ancient Greek lyricists. Romans began writing about love much later and though Catulus (1st century BC) is remembered primarily for love poems they occupy only a minor though significant part of literary legacy. The first two centuries of the Common Era saw an avalanche of lyrical writings but the advent of Christianity extinguished the flame of earthly love in literature and allowed only agape, spiritual and brotherly love, to be sung. In the Far Eastern countries of China and Japan love poetry was a steady, alternately augmenting or shrinking, part of literature throughout centuries.

The Persians, and then the Arabs who borrowed so much of their culture from the Persians, were very good at writing lyrical poetry, and Omar Khayyam (11th12th century), arguably the apogee of lyrical poetry in Arabic, devoted many of his quatrains to love earthly manifestations.

In Western Europe, the flame of love poetry was rekindled by the Troubadours and their followers in the twelfth century and since then it has been an integral part of Western literary and cultural tradition. From the domain of poetry, love gradually moved on to prose and dramas, culminating in such works as Romeo and Juliet.

In Eastern Europe, love themes were late comers into literature, and it is only in the nineteenth and even twentieth centuries that they penetrated  though never becoming the central themes  into Ukrainian and Russian literatures.

Surprisingly enough philosophers have always seemed reluctant to deal with earthly love (theologians wrote, of course, about love spiritual) in their writings and philosophical works entirely devoted to love are very few.

In the latter half of the twentieth century a great amount of books dealing with technical sides of sexual love were published. Some psychologists deigned to write about it but books like Erich Fromms The Art of Loving remain scarce.

Anyway, a great deal has been written about love  but we dont seem to be much closer to understanding the phenomenon of love than we were at the outset when we, humans, began reflecting upon it. We speak of crush, infatuation, puppy love, first love, young love (we shall not touch such aspects of love as brotherly or sisterly love, love of God, love of children, etc., and concentrate on earthly, erotic and sexual love), love at first sight, adoration, true love, relationship, and so on, but do we actually know what love is? How do we know its a passing feeling, or love eternal? Do we not often take sexual attraction, lust, fear of loneliness for love? Is there such thing as Platonic love in relations between man and woman? How true love differs from teenage crush?

A great many answers to these and other questions have been given but I find that it is only through individual, personal experience coupled with experience accumulated from love stories related to us by friends, seen by us in the movies or in dramas, read by us in poems and in novels, that we form our individual opinions about love we live through.

I believe that we are born with an inherent capacity for love but whether this potential is developed to an extent that will allow us to actually experience true love depends on a lot of things, and alas, for so many of us true love, or passionate love, or eternal love remains only something that we read about or see in soap operas. Love should be ardently desired, it should be looked forward to, it should be anticipated  then there is a chance that it may be encountered. True love is hardly an accidental encounter and the full value of true love can be appreciated and recognized only you have experienced crushes, infatuations, bursts of lust, and escapes from loneliness.

There is no definition of true love, nor can one be fashioned, no matter how philosophically apt we may be.

Love is more than hearts and flowers; Love is more than the moon and the dawn; Love is more than forever after. Love is deception and treason; Love is rapture and laughter; Love is foreplay and afterplay; Love is reaching the stars and Love is feeling the post-coital tristesse. Love is many things, Love is so enormous that neither the great nor insignificant works of literature, art, music, theatre and cinema have been able to give an exhaustive answer what Love truly is.

There is a lot of mysticism in love. In the words of Denis de Rougemont, Whatever turns into reality is no longer love Lovers, and not believers are made divine by the consummation of the substance of Love. But he does not tell us what this substance is.

For me, Love is when you can tell the person you love, Love is All. Love is You.


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