Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What is Love?

This post is going to be a bunch of randomness. My committee has my thesis to look over one more time for approval, so I am studying without ceasing for my comps. What is that? It is where the three professors on my committee, whom I greatly admire, quiz me for one hour on a reading list we have come up with together. Did I mention I really look up to these people? I am freaking out because I do not speak as well as I write. Give me a pen and paper any day of the week, please. Really, no matter how much I prepare for this I am still going to be freaking out until its over. If you happen to see me between now and then just shove a cup of hot tea in my hand and tell me that I will be okay.

Anyways, the point of this post is I wanted to share a passage from one of the books on my list. It is The Romance of the Rose by Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun (the first guy started it and the second guy finished it). This is a 13th century work about a courtly love affair, told through allegory. It is fabulous, but not for the faint of heart. This passage is Reason's definition of Love. It is so striking I had to share it. Also, I really, really want to know y'all's thoughts on it. I think some of it is very insightful.

"Love is hostile peace and loving hatred, disloyal loyalty and loyal disloyalty; it is confident fear
and desperate hope, demented reason and reasonable madness. It is the sweet danger of drowning and a heavy burden that is easy to handle; it is perilous Charybdis, disagreeable and gracious at the same time; it is a most healthful sickness and a most sickly health; a hunger abundantly satisfied and a covetous affluence, a thirst that is always drunk, an intoxication drunk with thirst. It is a false delight, a joyous sorrow and an unhappy joy, a sweet torment and an unkind sweetness, a taste at once pleasant and distasteful; it is a sin touched by pardon and a pardon tainted by sin, a most joyful suffering and a merciful cruelty. It is an ever-shifting game, a state which is very firm but also very changeable, an infirm strength and a strong infirmity that sets everything in motion through its efforts, a foolish sense and a wise folly, a sad and joyful prosperity; it is laughter that sobs and weeps, repose that toils unceasingly, a hell that soothes and a heaven that tortures, a prison that offers no relief to prisoners, a cold and wintry springtime. It is a moth that refuses nothing and consumes purple and homespun alike, for lovemaking is no better in fine clothes than in homespun."

This is why I love the Middle Ages. Do you agree? What are you favorite parts of the quote? This is so much better than any modern romance writer could do. The fullness, the complexity of love is captured so perfectly, in my opinion. If it wasn't so dang long I bet it would be the next tattoo trend.

(This quote comes from the Oxford World's Classics edition, translated by Frances Horgan).