The Love Irony
Updated: Jun 14, 2022
It’s no revelation that we live in uncertain times right now. (I’m not sure times have ever been certain). As I watch the daily press announcements about covid, media bias, and possibly the cruellest exchanges I've ever witnessed between lovers, I see people arguing vehemently about words. Semantic specifics form battlegrounds every which way on social media. While this is frustrating, and frightening, it’s also rather curious for a writer.
Given I’ve been gifted plenty of time to ponder this, it’s hit me anew that language is rarely precise at all. In fact we are rather poor at the act of deciding what something is, and what it is not. Yet this is so often the demand – of ourselves and of those around us.
‘What am I?’
‘What are you?’
These questions come at us with a desperation, a panic, prompting volatile reactions rather than considered responses. For example, I’m often mistaken for a man on social media (I think it’s my name). I receive messages fairly frequently asking simply “what are you?” I’m not offended by this, but my response is always the same: I’m Me.
I don’t intend to be facetious, nor difficult nor flippant. This is the only answer I feel is honest. It’s the only one of which I’m certain. This desperation for definitions seems to be all about certainty. The world, so indistinct and nuanced, reaches for footholds in clarity. Demands them, denying the truth of how rarely such fundamentals exist. This truth is acceptable to some individuals. It’s group-think that flails at the idea that words fall short.
Truth and Nuance:
Categorisation is designed to fail. In the words of a far better writer than I, "there are more things in heaven and earth" that were dreamt of in this philosophy of certainty. The idea that if we name it, we own it or control it is centuries old, and it’s not about order or organisation. It’s about Power.
Our commitment to ‘knowing', ‘defining’, and fitting things into set places seems to be more social than human. Labels feel like fear to me. ‘How similar is this being to me, or not?’ I suppose such ideas once helped us define threats to our clan and our person, but have we not moved beyond such xenophobia? Given the rush to judgement that follows so swiftly on the heels of applied labels, this seems doubtful.
With anonymous online spaces as the new colosseums, judgement is the bloodsport of this new millennium. Voices everywhere demand you declare yourself, state your loyalties, and defend your position. The modern day equivalent of ‘who goes there?’ It's thoroughly medieval, and utterly unforgivable. ('Never Fear Truth' artwork by Johnny Depp)
Love Is Love:
It’s society that demands you choose a label. Lately I’ve been asking myself why we ‘must’ be defined. I mean, is boxing oneself - and others - into a previously defined space, a loving act?
Releasing our fear-fuelled attachment to judgement frees us from the need to categorise each other. We find we can be ourselves, for us and those we love. When the ‘why’ is love, the ‘what’ seems unimportant.
The Love Irony is that love itself is a concept, a feeling, a state, an idea – all these things and still more. For centuries, writers have attempted to define Love for a society that claims everything must have a place. Love eludes precision. It defies control and power plays, and Just.Is.Love.