The Love Scholar

Quarter of midnight.

Gazing over the book titles on Amazon and reading reviews of The Bell by Iris Murdoch takes me back to a little trip I made to the university bookstore with a friend in June 1987. In the section of general books I found The Bell and also The Wind in the Door by Madeleine L’Engle, which I bought because I wanted to understand more about the subject of love. It didn’t benefit me very much, however, for my friend dumped me a few weeks later, on the weekend of the Fourth of July. I was devastated by this rejection. Now I ponder if love is a thing anyone really understands in an intellectual way. Perhaps my approach was all wrong the whole time? And yet I can’t change the way I am, so I might as well accept myself as I am. Would this be a kind of love?

Why is there such a disparity between loving and knowing? The first one does, the other one thinks. It’s a sort of dualism, a reflexive situation: mental energy turned back upon itself, like narcissism; like gazing at one’s reflection in a pool or stream. You pursue the stream back to its wellspring, but in doing this you lose knowledge, because perception depends on opposition of subject and object. Two years after I was jilted by my girlfriend, I wrote a paper on “Alastor,” a poem by Percy Shelley, but my essay really said more about myself in its analysis of the water imagery, which was like Narcissus and his reflection… So what have I learned about love since then? It is in the chest and not in the head; something done and not cogitated. Love simply is. 

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