Monday, October 1, 2012

The failure of holding love up too high

There are a handful of concepts that I find reprehensible.  One of them is the notion of the "soul mate". 

Let's skip right past the low-hanging fruit.  Sure, if one soul out there is the one for you, odds are they're a Han Chinese man who you will never encounter.  Skip that.  Too easy.  Also, let's skip right past the fact there is no such thing as the human soul, at least not in the crazy, ephemeral New Age religion sense.

Let's hit the hard target: what is love in reality?

Well?  Love is the product of certain chemicals in your brain going bonkers after you have been exposed to enough visual and social stimuli to convince you that you might want to fuck another human being.  It's a cocktail of oxytocin and social conditioning and evolutionary hard-wired sexual cues that when shaken up causes you to ignore all reason and make what amounts to a very bad choice for you individually: letting someone have a say in your life without being able to quantify why they deserve that say.

Just to be clear, I'm not a downer on love itself.  Knowing how love works is like knowing how chocolate works.  You can understand the entire process from a biochemistry standpoint without in any meaningful way destroy the fun of it.

What I'm down on is the deification of love.  What I'm down on is the notion that love is the broad, existential ideology that transcends anything at all.  It isn't.  Suck it.  Your love isn't special.

If love were anywhere near as mysterious as people claim, there would be numerous badly mismatched couples out there.  Six hundred pound chicks with serious hygiene issues soul mating it up with Wall Street types.  That shit doesn't happen outside of a few fetish porn websites.  Or maybe a Fetlife meetup with really good drugs.

The truth is, attraction leads to arousal which leads to sex which leads to bonding which leads to love.  A lot of things have to occur before you get to the love part.  And a lot of things have to go right afterward to sustain it.  And all of those things are readily -- nay, scientifically -- verifiable.  They can be field-tested and applied over and over again across cultures.

So, love isn't big and brave and crazy and mysterious.  It's only bigger than life because as a species we depend on it to stamp out the next generation of life.  To you personally, that's not a big deal except insofar as it alters your life's path. 

None of that requires that we elevate love to the status of a religion or an ideology or whatever the hell it is people think it is.  There is no great mystery.  There is no great lesson to be learned.  It just is.

There's nothing wrong with that.  One of humanity's great faults is our inability to just be.  We piss away a lot of energy and time chasing around and trying to wrangle a universe that was here before us and will be here long after all of us are gone and that just flat-out doesn't give a fuck that any of us were ever born.  And we do this to no effect -- save for the times it backfires and it all ends in a murder-suicide.

There's nothing wrong with just being.  There's nothing wrong with love just being what it is.  I know how chocolate stimulates my brain.   It's not a mystery.  And there's nothing wrong with that just being how it is. 

Same goes for love.  Love is just part of being human.  Don't deify it. Don't hold it up to some blinding light.  Don't build it up into something that transcends existence itself.

Love just is.

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