How do you get two intelligent organisms to copulate and have children? Remember we are talking about intelligent organisms; intelligent in the sense of being self-aware. There is only one animal on earth that is (as far as I know) self-aware, and that is Man. My female readers I hope will not be indignant at my chauvinistic use of the male descriptive. When I say ‘Man’ I include them also. In fact, since we are on the topic, when thinking of self-aware Man, I think of my female readers more than my male compadres – but I am digressing. As always!
So, coming back. How do you get two intelligent and self-aware organisms to copulate and have children? Answer: create within their brains the ability to feel romantic love. There is no more powerful emotional drug than that of romantic love. I say ‘romantic’ love deliberately to differentiate it from ‘other’ types of love. Like the love one feels for one’s parents, siblings, friends and so forth. The whirlwind of romantic love has shaped and carved our world throughout the ages. It has torn asunder empires, smelted dynasties, ripped families in two, levelled continents, reduced histories to ash and perhaps most important of all, harassed individual lives lived on the edge of obscurity. It has served as a muse and inspiration for our greatest works of art and our dizziest technological achievements. Second only to God, it was romantic love, that beat a path for the Enlightenment.
But that is not what I wish to discuss here. We have all, if we have lived fully, experienced first hand the tug and pull of romantic love. We know what it feels like. We know the powerful grip it can have on us when its potions take hold. And yet! And yet (and here I must whisper lest somebody hears my sodden incantations) we claim to be free, to possess a quality called freewill. When Man (or Woman) is under the iron grip of romantic love, he/she is like the Penguins of the Antarctic, huddled together in a black and white mass, conserving heat against the cold, trying to keep warm, to repeal faith, but ultimately in the end, giving in to the inevitable. When in-love you are like the hedgehog scurrying thereabouts in the undergrowth – seeing only that which lies a few inches from the tip of your nose. Or like the pigeon, pecking away, at little baubles. Are you a myopic hedgehog or an all seeing eagle? Answer: myopic hedgehog!
If life exists on other planets. If, many millions of miles distant, somewhere out there in the starry void, lies a planet, studded with intelligent life, does it I wonder, feel romantic love? And if yes, does its version of romantic love feel the same as our own? Perhaps these beings have bigger hearts on account of the thicker blood that must be pumped around the limbs because of the stronger gravitational field. Does this imbue them with stronger romantic feelings? Does their heart throb and hurt more? Perhaps they have two hearts – what then? The imagination can only wonder! Perhaps they have their own version of Romeo&Juliet that would make our own appear like a tepid midday soap opera. Perhaps they have no stomach, do they then suffer that ignominious knotted ‘butterfly in the stomach feeling’ that we must endure? Perhaps they are endowed with logic circuits that reduce all love decisions to probability and mathematical certainties, thus doing away with all that tedious mucking about with: dating, anticipation, the gushes, the sobs, the hysterics, the coyness, the meals spent gazing into each others glassy eyes. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…
There is something else I briefly wish to touch upon here. Please observe the man or woman in love. Imagine them in your head. Observe their behaviour. Observe how, when in the presence of their desired one, they shut out all else, all others, the world. Observe, how they react and notice every nuance of the object of their affections. Seeing meaning and purpose where none doth exist. Observe and hear, my friends, the lilting tones and praise they heap upon their loved one. Praise towers so high they touch the ceiling…of the world. Observe them with their friends talking inanely and non-stop about their loves ones sense of humour, their superior tastes, their bookish charm, their record collection, their clothes, their career, their person, their brain, their body, their tattoos, their earlobes. Observe how their dreamy eyes travel back in time and recollect and congeal a particular moment out of a dense mass of moments.
They see all yet they see nothing.
Love is blindness (Bono U2)
That is what love does. How is it, that in a world of 7 billion people, we feel, when under the thrall of romantic love, that we have found the one? That we have by some amazing comingling of faith and chance, found that one singular individual who will complete us, make us happy and whole, and whom no one else on the planet can replace. For that is how love feels does it not? The exclusivity of romantic love. The irrationality of it. The way it subverts our more thoughtful and pragmatic tendencies. The way it barges into our ordered lives and smashes about (like a rabid bull in a china store). The way it lifts us to a vague make-believe place up in the clouds full of fairies and skyhooks. All these qualities and more, tell me; the armchair philosopher, that romantic love is on par, and deserves to be grouped with, and should be treated as, a mental diseases! Ha! Yes, a mental disease!
But to end on such a grim note will not do. I think a little lunacy and frenzy is good in life. Adds a dash of colour, tone and texture to what would otherwise be a rather morose, glum and moribund tapestry. Love inspires! Love kills! Love is the muse of muses! Too much sanity is not a good thing and frankly a little boring. Madness. Madness is good. All forms including romantic love. Revel in it. Allow it the pleasure of deranging your senses. Let its scent rub off on your person, and don’t let anyone or anybody say or convince you otherwise of its high glories and lowly pains.
Love, oh love!
What a mysterious fiend you are!