This Resonance Called Love

~This is the translation to English of an older article of mine.~

Not so long ago1, the blogosphere2 had this sudden urge to define what love is. Serafim3 noted a few of the ways in which people simply carry out love as a transaction (they give it, they take it back, they push it as an excuse to hide behind and they lay at its door all the faults and the problems they can think of) and concluded that love could be a full way of life if only people stopped diminishing and truncating it on arbitrary grounds of physical distances otherwise known as out of sight out of mind.

In reply to Serafim above, Luka4 retorted that love is just a thin illusion, quite similar to the apparent skin-deep serenity that Diazepam5 might induce. Scratch this thin surface of love-induced calm though, she said, and you'll find the same old desire for death that all live people ever have, except love tames it to such degree that it turns us all into unfulfilled killers, calm, docile and well aligned life soldiers taking their place in orderly formation, convinced suddenly that the previously unreal perfection became real. And so love is nothing more - says Luka - but this pleasant lie that we tell children, just another version of that old lie of Father Christmas/Santa Klaus - simply a cheap way to provide some moments of pure happiness to those that don't yet have all that much to lose for it, mainly as a side effect of their own youth giving them the luxury of considering the lie more real than the reality that stares them in the face if only they chose to look at it and think of it.

My own take on it is that both Serafim and Luka above speak their own truth on the matter but go nowhere near defining love at all, for their approach doesn't fit the task and the way they go about it means simply that the end result can not possibly be a definition even in the best of cases. Serafim does not define anything - he merely notes that, what people themselves call love is anyway not the actual thing but only a semi-random mixture of bits and parts out of a whole that is however left undefined; he mentions a full way of life more as a yet-another-way-to-say-love but he doesn't even attempt to look at what and how this would even be or what would it require. On the other hand, Luka presupposes a definition of love as illusion and then presses on from there to end at the unsurprising conclusion that rather than going through an illusory life in the name of love, it's certainly better to go through a closer to real life without the love-illusion altogether. And as I summarised thus her approach in a comment on her own blog, she did not dispute it but asked instead, quite pointedly: "so then, what do *you* say love is?"

In truth, I usually do not even attempt to say at all what love is, mainly because of my aversion to definitions of notions that are quite as undefinable as this one seems to me. Certainly, there have been produced already about a trillion or more definitions of love to pick from and I find fault with each and every one of them because each person tortured by this dire need to define the undefinable simply reaches out for their own closest empirical experience in the matter and then proceeds to generalize from there. The obtained generalizations themselves may work at times better or worse but they are out of necessity faulty given that they always rely - as a consequence of the very process at work - on incomplete and conveniently chosen inputs coloured quite frequently by the author's own expectations. As such, there's no valid generalization to draw really from any of it, regardless what each and every author of this kind imagines.

Setting aside for a moment personal expectations heaped on love at one time or another and simply looking instead at what's out there, it's really not all that hard to notice that love comes in quite a few different sorts (romantic love, filial love, love of life, of work, of self, of children, of the neighbour, of the postman, of sex, of beer and of pretty much anyone and anything you can imagine). And each and every one of those types of love ends up anyway with a ton of descriptions, expectations, laments and so on - in fewer words, a lot of nonsense of all sorts, packaged and repackaged ad infinitum. So in a word, what's out there is nothing but a muddle of countless definitions failing to define the slightest thing while jumbling it all under the same capacious umbrella term. Nevertheless, even all this muddle and all this jumble can't quite erase the undeniable reality of being human: people are perfectly capable of love even when they have no idea what that is or means and even when they end up using it as an excuse, a bulwark, a chain or anything else that seems most convenient in the moment.

Accepting from the above that capability of love and even repeated empirical experience with it does not do much for clarification in the matter, it follows that any attempt to come to some sort of understanding of what love is has to find an entirely different starting point. It's clearly quite useless to take one's own or even other people's utterings on love as anything other than a way to get muddled up entirely. This empirical path closed thus, one might reach of course for some scientific path instead. Alas, natural sciences are also quite useless in this matter: they can reveal of course some things about the (mostly chemical) mechanism of love but what is that going to do for a definition? Moreover, social sciences fail here too, as people's actions and thoughts can anyway be quite idiosyncratic and more dependent on the person's own context than on such a neatly isolated single factor, be it love or something else. Just about the only option that remains then is therefore to identify and follow up the common thread and consequences that are found in *all* experiences of love without any exception whatsoever.

The main consequence present at absolutely all times is this clear and marked alignment of the lover's actions to the object (person) of their love. The alignment need not be towards a common goal or even in the same general direction really - it's still alignment even if the lover chooses to aim to please or to displease, to help or to harm their loved one. For as long as the loved one is - knowingly or unknowingly - instrumental in some way, there is simply love. Thus it's unsurprising of course that the opposite of love is not hate but total indifference (the real sort, not the one imposed or self-imposed through sheer will) and love has nothing to do with being a good thing or even good for you6.

The common thread of all love experiences without exception can perhaps be extracted as an explanation of the alignment above: the lover simply resonates in a specific way with his loved one. In happy cases, this resonance happens on pleasing, harmonious and even multiple frequencies, in a fulfilling and even generative or regenerative way. In very happy cases, the resonance may encompass and weave together, at least at times, the entirety of frequencies known so far to the lover, perhaps even attuning him to new ones. In not so happy cases though, the resonance may also play with equal strength on dissonant and ultimately destructive frequencies.

I find it quite interesting to note the fact that the lover's resonance does not really require a person to love or even a person at all. Resonance is after all a matter of interaction between two waves, without any requirement whatsoever for any of all that complicated jazz that tends to get called "intelligent life". As a result, the good news is that everyone and even everything anywhere can experience love. The bad news is that love has nothing to do with perfection. Ah, and that we have of course no clue whatsoever as to what exactly is the recipe for harmonious resonance with people. Or with the whole Universe.


  1. Well, at the time of writing the original of this article, meaning already 9 years ago now, which on the Internet counts apparently as very, very long ago really. Nevertheless, it's not like this particular topic is ever *not* making the rounds anyway so I leave it as it is, a sort of eternal "not so long ago". 

  2. It was the Romanian blogo-tiny-sphere at the time, of course. 

  3. His blog meanwhile vanished, as apparently most do on those Internets where 9 years ago is like several Ages ago - we are left with only the references to texts lost in the midst of time stupidity. Since I was naive enough in 2011 to link directly rather than archive his page, now I'm stuck with giving some context and simultaneously lacking the actual content I'm referring in this article, for crying out loud. Anyways: the Serafim I'm talking about here was one Serafim Pantea, a Romanian orthodox priest writing quite readable - and especially notable otherwise for their non-preaching character - pieces on his personal blog; iirc at some point he got essentially shut down by his superiors, quite likely precisely because people read him rather than them, the "superiors", the... church in a word. It might even make for an interesting comparison at that, next time you brandish "cult" about at anything. 

  4. Yet another author lost in the sands of 9-year old aka ancient Internets. She wrote at ukavra.com under the penname Luka (a sort of short form, k-style version of her actual name, Raluca), baring at times quite a lot more than most people ever have the courage to do when looking in the mirror. 

  5. Valium is a brand name you might be more familiar with, for this drug. 

  6. Good itself is yet another one of those difficult to define items. 

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