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Love

1 The importance of love

This is a short but important part of this course. There is one aspect of fiction I believe it is still important to touch upon: it is the feeling of love. 99% of fiction would disappear if love or whatever love means were to disappear. In our own times, love as feeling functions as one of the most important legitimizing concepts: “the obsession with love is the fundamentalism of Modernity” (Beck & Beck-Gernsheim 1990: 21; my translation). “I did it for love” serves as an excuse for nearly everything, and where it does not, where the crime committed is too horrible to be excused, it was probably not real love anyway.

Love is therefore a keyword of our contemporary society, as empty and full of meaning as nature was said to be in module 2.3; it is “an empty formula, which lovers have to fill with content” (Beck & Beck-Gernsheim 1990: 13, my translation). This emptiness makes love very special from the point of view of the four dimensions. For the question emerges of where to place love in our four-dimensional grid.

Love, at least our stereotyped version of love, which is the love of falling in love, is a feeling, pure chemistry. In that sense, love is nature. At the same time, love is supposed to be love towards somebody else, in which case it has a social component. Yet on the other hand, that social component is said to individualise the beloved to an excessive, unbearable degree. In this sense love is also part of the individualizing dimension of reality. Finally, love transcends everything, yearns for eternity, and in this sense, love has an undeniable metaphysical component. Virgil’s “Love conquers all”, the different versions of “The Power of Love”, and Coppola’s subtitle to Bram Stoker’s Dracula - “Love Never Dies” – all attest to the metaphysical dimension of love.

2 Sexuality

In the sexual act, the totality of love seems occasionally to find even more concentrated expression. Sexuality is primarily associated to nature, as it is our basic form of reproduction, with lust functioning as the trigger rather than the end, although its potency can reduce sex to an end in itself. A powerful drive at any rate. But sex is also the most intimate possible encounter between two human beings, and in being so it is the most concentrated expression that love has to offer of sociability, individuality, and transcendence at one and the same time. What has been said above about love also applies to sex here.

Love, then, seems to be a natural trespasser on all dimensional boundaries. In that sense, love looks different from everything we have seen up to now. It does not side nor live in enmity with any one or two dimensions. Instead, it has the potential of fusing all dimensions under its harmonizing rule. There are, of course, also other constructions of love: sexual in the sense of just natural love, possessive love, narcissistic love, idealized love, love past youth and chemistry, love consciously renewed and regained. Unlike our stereotyped vision of love, however, these other loves all leave the harmonious fusion of the four dimensions to different degrees and tend towards one or the other dimension:

 

Dimension

some types of love

nature

basic instinct; crush

individuality

narcissistic; possessive

society

as conquest; consciously regained & renewed

metaphysics

idealised; past youth & chemistry

 

The stereotype is our ideal because it is everything, and everything at the same time: it is the world made simple in all its complexity.

Click on the picture below for a discussion of an example of multi-dimensional love in a poem:

 

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Multi-dimensional love

Carol Anne Duffy's "Mrs Lazarus"

works cited (and referred to):

Beck, Ulrich & Beck-Gernsheim, Elisabeth. Das ganz normale Chaos der Liebe. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 1990.

acknowledgement of sources for pictures:

 

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daniel.candel@uah.es | ©2008 Daniel Candel Bormann