Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Some Thoughts on Love

I’m an expert in love.  Not in practice, mind you, but in theory. When it comes to love, I am either one of the most unlucky in love, or I have had several lucky escapes from potentially life-destroying affairs.  I guess it's all in the spin.  Either way, I have yet to meet the “right” girl.  Yet, through these “failures”, I have learned lessons in love that those uninitiated into my level of disappointment could immediately discover.

First, love is an emotional response to the perception of some thing or some one as being the embodiment or manifestation of your deepest values.

Sounds pretty clinical doesn’t it?  Not exactly brimming with feeling.  But that is the purpose of a definition.  It tells you what something is, but it does not necessarily convey meaning.  A definition is objective and meaning is subjective.  I am a cat person.  That small furry mammal means something positive to me that fills me with happiness and delight, however the cat-hater will derive a different meaning from the exact same definition.  

So I can easily define love.  I may even add some nice references to the chemical reactions in the brain born of our perceptions, but ultimately the meaning of love is what escapes us and keeps poets and songwriters in work.  Love is subjective, possibly the ultimate subjective experience.

The key word in my definition is perception.  This does not mean that the object of our affections is the manifestation of our deepest values, only that we perceive them to be.  This is the birthplace of love.  It is the product of our imagination and reinforced through our thoughts.  The more power you give to this mental construct of yours the more intense the emotion, but the intensity of the emotion does not indicate truth only the strength of the emotion itself.  In this sense the line from the film St. Elmo’s fire applies, “Love is an illusion created by lawyer types like you to perpetuation the illusion of marriage and the illusionary need for divorce lawyers.”

But let’s be fair.  Much of what passes for love in modern culture can more accurately be described as mutual infatuation.  True love is when that perception is more or less accurate and that invokes a powerful emotional response.  Rather like a scientific theory, we might conclude that our perception is “most likely true”.  Infatuation is comparable to the hypothesis stage of the scientific journey, not the final theory stage.  This is the point when we perceive the object of our affection to have particular qualities, and we may even project those qualities into our mental construct of them, but we really do not know if they are true because they have not been tested.

This testing process is where love really comes from.  Infatuation is an emotional response to an image,  or schema, but the image is not reality.  People may develop emotional attachments to celebrities, but that public image is just an image, an illusion.  Living daily with that celebrity might make you hate them.

Humans are multi-faceted, glittering, disco balls of personality and these aspects only reveal themselves through various situations over time.  A woman may be attracted to a man because she perceives him to be strong, but how will she react when he has his Achilles in his tent moment?  Will she believe in him and his ability to rise above this phase or will his moment of weakness shatter her illusions and therefore her attraction?

Before the days of quick and easy love breaking-up was not that easy.  Ask anyone couple who have been in a relationship that has lasted for decades if there was ever a time when they hated each other and the most likely answer would be yes.  This is the crucible where true love is born, but without the will to see things through the love will die.  It might even be argued that it was never really born since it never really emerged from the embryonic infatuation stage of development.

One of the hardest parts in a relationship is having the wisdom to know when to work through a crisis and when to call it quits.  Many relationships have lasted long past their sell-by date, whereas others have been prematurely cut off in their prime.  I do not believe that a general rule applies, but I will venture that if it ends, then it was never true no matter the intensity of the feelings.  Actions are what count in this world and not preferences or intentions.

There is a line is a song by Sparks, “We can argue all day long if love really exists or not, its like arguing whether Santa Claus exists, it’s a complete waste of time.”  Like Santa Claus, love as infatuation is a lie agreed upon.  We notice infatuation when one person feels it, but mutual infatuation is called love.  Silly isn’t it?  Both are illusions.  However, just as “believing” in Santa Claus ignites the spirit of Christmas, so too does love require infatuation.  You have to believe in it to experience it.

You cannot get to love without starting with infatuation and you cannot become infatuated if you do not believe in the illusion.  The danger here is apparent.  If the infatuation cannot survive the testing process, then it is proven false and heartbreak ensues, but you cannot begin the testing process unless you believe in the hypothesis.

Perhaps I am over-stretching my scientific method metaphor.  The testing process is not a conscious act.  It more like running a simulation.  It’s giving the relationship a test-run and seeing if it can weather all that life has to throw at it and this process can take years. 

During that time nature takes over and begins the process of pair bonding by turning the couple into mates, or as the Bible says, “One flesh”.  But if that relationship is based on false premises it will fail eventually making the break-up all the more painful and potentially psychologically damaging. 

But how do you know if your relationship is based on false perceptions?  That’s like asking a brainwashed person if they know that they are brainwashed.  Of course they don’t know.  Friends or family might tell them and point out the evidence, but the emotional response to the illusion is so powerful that they cannot see what others see.  The infection has to run its course.

It is recognized in the pick-up artist community that attraction is not a choice.  It is the result of an emotional response, on a largely unconscious level, to someone.  So the pick-up artists perfect their ability to manipulate a woman’s perceptions through various techniques employing body language, behaviours, and verbal tactics all designed to generate attraction in women.

This is great for men who want to bed as many women as possible, but for those who want love it is a different story.  They can get in the door, but cannot stay in the house for very long.  For this reason many of the gurus in the field are focusing more on getting and keeping the relationship than simply the pick-up.

The sad truth is that love begins with that thrilling spark of mutual infatuation, but in time that fades.  Lovers become husbands and wives.  Existence becomes routine.  She stops dressing to impress and he stops showing-off to impress her, and complacency sets in.  Her beauty is taken for granted and his eyes wander for fresh meat while she has already seen all his tricks and it becomes harder and harder for him to impress her.

Its like the song Escape by Rupert Holmes.  You know the one.  “If you like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain…”  The gist of the song is a man is bored with his relationship and answers a personal ad only to discover that his woman wrote the ad and their relationship is reinvigorated.  In real life she probably would have killed him for trying to cheat on her, but whatever.

We often use the word soul mate.  Forget all the nonsense and let’s break this down.  The soul is your unique psycho-emotional programming.  It is the source of your deepest values.  The soul mate is a person who shares a similar program and through the relationship these programs are reaffirmed to each other.  As Cathy said:
“It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him; and that, not because he's handsome, Nelly, but because he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same, and Linton's is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.” 

Love is not fire.  That’s infatuation driven by imagination and chemical reactions.  Love is water.  It’s deep, constant, and often subdued. The other person becomes an extension of yourself, and like any other extension, like your arm for example, you take it for granted until it’s chopped-off. 

Ultimately, love is more about companionship and working together in life, than sex and immediate emotional fulfilment.  Mind you dear reader, I am by no means devaluing the role of sex in a relationship.  Only remember that it is the glue and not the substance

The fire must always give way to water.  If water is not what you want, then perhaps love is not for you.  Embrace the fire and move from one spark to another, but do not delude yourself that you are in it for love.

The modern obsession with love is the quest to fill a need.  But what fills the need?  What are we after?  Here is another one of my bizarre metaphors.  Suppose you need to hammer a nail.  All of your social programming has conditioned you to believe that the best tool to hammer a nail is a fish.  So you spend your life trying to hammer a nail with a fish.  You try cod, halibut, salmon, but none seems to work.  Other people appear to have succeeded, but you fail.  What are you doing wrong?

First you have to challenge your conditioning.  You are using the wrong tool for the job.  Love will not make you feel better about yourself, clear-out your emotional baggage, resolve your psychological issues, or cure what ails you.  If anything, those things will destroy the relationship.  Infatuation will dope you up enough to forget those things, but once the thrill is gone the monsters will all come back.

Humans complicate things and I am of the mind that when things get complicated then we need to get back to nature.  Look at why things are there in the first place.  Look through the ornamentation and analyse the structure.  Infatuation, sex, and love all serve a singular purpose according to the law of Nature, the creation of a pair-bond for the purpose of raising children. 

Again, not very glamorous or sexy is it.  Men do not look at porn and think, “I want her as a companion and bearer of my children” but ultimately the feelings he is experiencing were all put there by nature towards that very purpose.  Only by recognizing this can we avoid many of the complications of associated with love and learn to recognize potential love when it comes along.

In The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack Skellington learned that you cannot say, “I love you” unless you can say, “I”.  In the film, he lost touch with himself, forgot who he was, and tried to be someone else that he could never be.  It was not until he recovered his identity that he was capable of recognizing love, either Sally’s love for him or his love for Sally.  Only by knowing his soul was that level of companionship with another person possible.

The quest for love is the quest to find that person most closely aligned to your deepest psycho-emotional programming, your deepest values, and your purest essence for the purpose of mutual companionship.  But how can you find love if you do not know who you are?

Here’s where collectivists have it easy.  All those socially conditioned drones are interchangeable so they can pair relatively easily. They all know who and what they are because society has told them.  According to evolutionary psychology, women will be drawn to the males with the highest social status.  Therefore the man most attuned to the socially accepted norm has a better chance of mating than the men with the low social status.

The Romantic on the other hand is generally against the social norm, far more individualistic, and therefore finds it more difficult to find someone to resonate with. It is my observation and experience that women are socially conditioned to adore Romantics but will ultimately settle with Mundanes.  I guess that explains why people dress-up when they go out.  They pretend to be what they are not to draw a mate but then when the costume comes off no one is upset because all the Mundanes are playing the same game of pretend.  Anyway, back on track…

Thus do the Romantics pine for love and deeply mourn its loss because not any old fish in the sea will do.  They may take a different approach and become lovers, by which I mean a series of temporary infatuations filled with fire and passion that never mature into love, like the rock star who will fuck his groupies but none of them are his equal and he has no illusions otherwise.

It is ironic that the Romantic lends itself to the notion of love and love itself is not possible without the individualism of the Romantic, and yet the Romantic seems forbidden to enter the very land he created.  He is banished to the frontier in the realm of infatuation.  There I go again…pining Romantic.

Love, like the magic in a theatre, can only be conceived through the suspension of disbelief.  You must believe that it is possible and allow yourself to be carried along by the emotions of it.  Sometimes the show ends, and you must accept that the thrill of infatuation is its own reward.  But sometimes the show never ends and you find that love had taken root and grown.  I have never experienced that, but when I’m ready for it, I know that it will come.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Whose Reality?

Another short video I created to explain the concept of the three "realities" which I often refer to in my work.