Valentine Bluffs #1- Never try to define love

 Valentines Day was originally the feast day of St. Valentine, a martyred saint first included into the list of Roman martyrs by Pope Gelasius I, though nothing about the saint is known save his name. Fast forward 18 centuries to the present day and his name is celebrated with mylar balloons and Hallmark gift cards celebrating an international day of love.

But in all the years of its celebration there have cropped up more than a few innocuous and sometimes destructive clichés that have preyed on the innocent minds of the romantic at heart. It is the perpetuation of these bluffs at a time during which young minds are more susceptible to such things they would have easily guarded against at any other time.

For Valentines is one of the most dangerous holidays in the calendar, not in the sense of bodily or physical harm but wherein one small mistake can haunt you for the rest of your natural life. This is a first in a four-part series where I rant/discuss about the different, most common clichés and bluffs on love and valentines.

 A couple of years ago a small gag test circulated around social networking sites, going viral for a few weeks before disappearing into the obscure black hole of thought known as teenage memory. It tried to demonstrated the ‘perfect prof’ who would (because he was so cool) give the ‘easiest quiz ever’.


The quiz was basically a conflation of non-sensical and irrelevant questions like ‘What’s your favorite time of the school day’ to which the proper answer was ‘Dismissal’. It held ten questions of the same caliber altogether but there was one item that always stood out because it never made sense. One of the questions (the very first in fact) asked the student to define love.


It made no sense because it seemed wholly out-of-place in a quiz that was supposed to be the easiest ever given. Given that the definition of love is one of the hardest questions no one has ever tackled seriously.


Wordsmiths, poets, Etymologists, bibliographer, and Lexicographers of all disciplines and schools of thought have grappled with the abstract concept of love and its meaning in order to translate it into the common vernacular. Many have come close but civilized man has yet to achieve a fully realized and complete definition of this simple four lettered word.


The problem lies in the duality afforded by the concept and its subsequent study. There is the poetic approach which needs no formal knowledge on the subject, requiring only a fragmentary experience of the said emotion and a certain amount of training in literary expression. Out of which come the flowery interpretations of romance. From crossing the innumerable miles of the universe and the epic struggles and sacrifice of overcoming the most titanic and difficult of tasks in the name of its fulfillment, to the shallow one-liner thought up in less than thirty seconds like a pizza from a second-rate restaurant.


This approach supposedly gets to the ‘heart’ of the matter. Piercing the complexity of the unknown status of the human soul when afflicted with the elusive and enigmatic contours of emotion manifested in the simple word love. An excellent example would be Shakespeare’s Sonnets, for the purpose of this article I chose Sonnet no. 96:


Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.



Other excellent letters are the works of Edward A. Bordi. However, no matter how fully poets and bards prostrate themselves in the expression of loves efficacy, torturous longing, consistency in time etc. their expressions and sentiments simply will not suffice.


These words may express love but none of them actually explain it or defines what it is. In order to define a word the process must meet a certain requirement of study. This is the only way we can ensure a sort-of check and balance when it comes to the troublesomeness of a certain term. And no word is more problematic than love.


The impact and reach of certain words is universal, in that they not only affect everyone on the planet, they also affect every aspect of our lives. Do not be fooled into thinking that the word love merely translates into romantic or sexual encounters, they more often than not invade the legal arena.


In recent months the gay marriage movement quickly gained steam primarily in the United States affecting attitudes towards homosexuals and sparking similar movements all over the world.


One of the loudest arguments for the gay marriage movement is the argument of love in that it is the only thing that matters in a marriage.

 “The number one reason that heterosexuals marry is not to establish legal status, allow joint filing of taxes, or protect each other in medical decision-making. They marry because it is the ultimate expression of a person’s love for another. Marriage is a commitment that says “I love you so much that I want to live the rest of my life with you. I want to share the ups and downs, forsake all others, and be together until death do us part.” Should it matter that the couple doesn’t fit into what society is used to? Some people talk about living wills and other legal contracts that can give homosexuals essentially the same rights as a married couple. If that is the case, why don’t all heterosexual couples use these legal maneuvers instead of marriage? Just maybe there’s something more to it.


However, this same argument proves problematic when applied to other alternative lifestyles that are more extreme like incest, bestiality and fetishists as well as other forms of paraphilia and neo-sexualism.


Which leads us to the second mode of defining love, the scientific process. Drawing lines on what can and cannot be called love. Utilizing cold calculation and methodical naturalism in order to most accurately define the human condition of love either in its biological processes or within the intricate working mechanisms of the neuro-electrochecmical brain. There are many arguments against the bibliotechnical use and definition of the word as the methodical approach is antithetical to the main components of love ie. passion and romance and thus falls short of its expected meaning.


An excellent example would be the Oxford dictionarys definition of the word which defines love as 1. a strong feeling of affection; 2. a great interest and pleasure in something. Needless to say these two statements do almost nothing in achieving the monumental task of defining the word love, they have not even scratched the surface. They for example make no distinctions between other strong feeling of affection that may arise but do not qualify to be called love. It then becomes obvious that both methods of approaching a definition to love fail.


This then is the dilemma of love. No one understands it as much in order to ascribe a complete and easily understood definition for the phenomenon. The solution then seems to be is to somehow merge the two disciplines in order to find the complete definition sought. However, this project is virtually impossible because the two are mutually exclusive to the point that they are almost conflicting not only in their approach but in the conclusions reached as well. They are two necessary halves that cannot become a whole. And the tragedy is, everybody thinks they do understand it to the point that the one question that has never been completely and satisfactorily answered is considered an easy question on a meme gag quiz.




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