"Let us not be ashamed to speak what we shame not to think."
-Michel de Montaigne

Friday, July 30, 2010

Why We Love What We Love

Writing love poems is harder than you'd think.

Let me clarify that: writing honest love poems that do NOT make me gag is harder than you'd think. I abhor sap. I dislike love poems that don't sting just a little. Anyone who writes those kind of love poems has failed to capture the astounding range of love. Their 'violets are blue' sentimentality does the reader a disservice.

I'm in the process of writing my second book of poetry, Desir, a volume of love poems based on the four loves as understood by the ancient Greeks, and later redefined for modernity by C.S. Lewis: storge (affection), philia (friendship), eros (erotic love), and agape (unconditional, God-like love).

I find that writing about love is some of the most challenging writing I've done because of the amorphous nature of that emotion--the erotic melding into the platonic, or the platonic yielding to the erotic. Soaring, iridescent love as impressionism of the senses, fruition of memory, desire, and psychosis.

Why do we love the things and people that we love?

In writing about love, this question is almost more important, or certainly more interesting, than the expression of love itself. The apertures of erotic love, for instance--the yearning, the kiss, the embrace, the explosive desire--are universal. But why him or her? There is nothing more individual or singular than the trajectory to the beloved. How is it that two people with so much in common could find absolutely nothing to love in the other? How is it that two people with nothing in common can bind their lives together without much consideration?

I don't care about expressing how love makes an individual act, per se; I'm interested in reading and writing about how love melds the mind. I'm interested in exploring why we love the things and people we love in the first place. Is our choice of partner merely an expression of out "desire-mapping" through past experiences, media images, familial models, or is it more?

I don't know if I can believe in something as delicious as fate. I don't know that I can get behind something as idealistic as soul mates; and that really says something about me, doesn't it?

What I can believe in is this, at least: when we say 'I love you' or 'I love ___,' it says more about the person saying it than the object(s) of affection themselves. We are what we love. This can be both a wondrous and terrible revelation.


  1. Hi there, I found your site online while searching for something else. Excellent post, very thought-provoking. I'll have to check out more.

  2. This is deep. I will not be able to fall asleep now. I'll have to spend the whole night wondering why I love what I love (and who I love). E-Harmony seems to have it all figured out: it's based on 29 characteristics of compatability. Clay and I would have never been matched on E-Harmony.