Friday, February 19, 2010

Speech in Praise of Eros

Although I do not pretend to understand, in the slightest, the nature of Love, it is one of the very few things that I believe in, and I believe in the power of Love with everything that I am.

I found the realization that this belief is so strong in me to be quite startling, as I am a girl of rather few such intangible convictions. This isn't, of course, to say that I'm apathetic, but rather that the vast majority of the things I feel passionate about are very concrete, unambiguous things—that violence is a terrible thing, that the environment needs to be protected, that certain parts of the government are broken. I am, by nature, somewhat of a literalist, and have incredible difficulty putting my faith in something that I cannot see, or touch, or, at the very least, visualize.

Love, though, cannot be defined, cannot be measured, cannot be predicted; defying the laws of thermodynamics, it materializes from nothing at the most unexpected times, and often is destroyed just as inexplicably.

This mercurial quality makes it easy for those not under the spell of Love to be skeptics; I, too, am often plagued by thoughts of why. I tend to think of Love as something close to divine, yet my stubbornly scientific brain often badgers me with the rather demystifying idea that Love is nothing more than a chemical response to pleasurable stimuli, especially those that simulate the begetting of progeny—which is, after all, what we are wired, evolutionarily, to do. Our genes tell us to make more of ourselves because the organisms lacking such a drive evaporated from the genetic pool eons ago. However, the less jaded half of my brain counters this with a question: if it is true that Love is nothing more than artificial feelings synthesized by chemicals in our brains, is there anything wrong with that? Is it any less noble if there is no transcendentalism involved, if everything we feel is just mind-games courtesy of our hormones?

If the happiness a lover feels is the same either way, does the source matter?

To reconcile these two endlessly warring halves of my head, I don't believe it does matter. Even if Love is somehow made less noble by not having some higher thing as its origin, it is still elevated to such great heights by the ecstasy that it brings to two people in love.

Love breaks down even the skeptic's carefully constructed barriers against the unexplainable, against rash emotions. Love destroys your carefully empty eyes, those words you tried to memorize, and as it fills you it washes away fear, self-doubt, and loneliness, infusing you instead with a wonderfully buoyant sense of belonging that serves as a lifeline to carry you through whatever hardships you may face. It is this quality of love, this uplifting, affirming sense of peace and confidence, that makes me believe in Love, that makes me worship it above all other gods.


Post-Valentine's Symposium speech. Written at 2am, minimally edited.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Sapphic Fragment 3

always, I yearn to give
wings to words, yet of the glorious
resounding cries, of the beautiful and good, you
force me into a shamed silence of pain, stifling me
with fear, blame, regret[?]
for your swollen
[fingers?] as I let you take your fill. for though my thinking
arose all self-condemning, it was not thus
as you accused; nothing is arranged
erratically, nor erotically, though
all night long, l[a]ying anxious, I am aware
of your allegations of evildoing;
but I, in my desire-choked silence, my willful blindness,
lay blame on other souls, all those deluded minds,
those cursed, those blessed ones,
all around whom you spread your downy wings,
all whom you loved,
all whom you destroyed
I reject that you'd willingly break us,
and yet
the truth lies naked.
have you no temperance, no shame?


Creative reconstruction; bold words are the original fragment.