Monday, July 7, 2008

All you need is LOVE

Love conquers all.

Recently I read a rather lengthy and rather bitter statement by Lentyne Bennett on the statement ‘Love conquers all’ (originally written by Virgil.)
Basically Bennett shits all over one of society’s most treasured, cliché, and poetic sayings.

“For centuries upon centuries we have been misinterpreting this famed trio of words. The uninformed masses breathlessly hold up this dwarfish phrase as a justification for snogging in public squares, abandoning wives, cuckolding husbands, for the escalating divorce rate, for the swarms of bastard children begging for handouts…when there is nothing remotely encouraging or cheerful about this oft-quoted phrase.”

Bennett goes on to stress that the Latin poet did not write ‘Love frees all” or Love liberates all.”

“…therein lies the first degree of our flagrant misunderstanding. Conquer: to defeat, subjugate, massacre, cream, make mincemeat of.”

It is quite interesting to think of such a popular turn of phrase in this fashion. Generally the ability to say “Well, love conquers all” is a powerful thing; it means that you have an instance in which love is the ultimate and deciding factor. No doubt your statement will churn up some sighs from those around you and those far off wistful looks of ‘oh I wish I had some instance in which love conquered all.’
I have never used the statement in a negative light. But wow does it apply. Love conquers all, including reason.

example: Did you hear about that mother who abandoned her kids to run off with her boyfriend? Well, what can you do, love conquers all.

example: What about that peace prize winner guy who murdered that chick’s boyfriend and wore his skin like a suit so that she would be reminded of him?
Well, ya know, love conquers all.

Leave it up to us to take a phrase such as this, so heavily laden with meaning, and associate it with something beautiful and light. And I am not slamming on love by any means. I love love and am lucky enough to be in love. But we all know what love is capable of. Love is visceral; it can make people physically ill. It conquers reason, and there is no rationality in love. You could be the best Jewish daughter in the world, but if you fall in love with a black Arabic woman, then no amount of cajoling from your parents about that nice lawyer Shlomo will change your true feelings. Love is passionate and love is unbelievably violent. Love of self, love of another, love of your children, love of God… we have seen all of these result in unbelievable violence, both in history and in our daily lives.

But in violence there is another type of beauty. All worthwhile tales posses some element of violence.

We take much more notice of those who overcome obstacles to get where they are today. Living a blessed life and completing the NYC marathon is great. Having had both your parents die in a tragic accident and then running the NYC marathon is news worthy. Through violence there is victory, and no story is a good one without conflict.

As a society we hold great respect for violence and the aftereffects. Perhaps this is why we so embrace the “Love conquers all” mentality. There is respect in the face of violent acts. There is a level of understanding in the irrational movements powerful emotions can force us to make. “I know my stalker was crazy but wow do I wish I felt as strongly about something as they did.”

"...we risk the massacre of the things we hold most dear, including our sense of self," Bennett says.

Sounds pretty awesome though.

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