Schopenhauer, based on his reading of Calderon De La Barca (and as an answer to him), though of love as the human version of the most important instict/pulsion on living creatures: the one of reproduction (different from mere replication), or prevailing trough breeding. For him, love would be inseparable from (heterosexual) sexuality, as the strongest drive we came set with: to become one with someone else, that gets fullfilled partially on the coitus, but becomes fully effective only in the act of breeding, by which two beings literally merge into (a new) one. In that sense, love would be the most important affair for any given person and any given society at any given time; the choice of the partner is the moment when the most personal problem meets the most public of all, concerning the entire species: it's what may or not allow us to extend ourselves beyond death and into the future; the canon of "lovely" held by a given generation, gives nothing less than the formula for the next one [NOTE: even today, indeed, occidental marriage is conceived as a contract not to "love each other" and shit, but to legally assume shared responsabilities on the upbringing of infants]. In a way, the first movie of GITS and Saya no Uta kind of echo this notion of love...
However, Rimbaud, who though as well of love as the most significant bond between two souls, find it always inexistent within domestic (heterosexual) relationships, since they respond to material needs rather than a true demostration of a person inner drive or will (with volition as the very mark of what truly constitutes a psyché, anima or soul). So, and in consonance with his own homosexuality and life lasting admiration towards the classics, he aimed to "Re-invent Love" with fellow poet Paul Verlaine, returning to their primal state of "children of the sun" (refernce to Apollo) by following the ancient greek ideal of homosexual love (existent between an eromenos and an erastés as complementary beings). Needless to say, just like his entire aesthetic viewing, this project failled pathetically: he eventually became fully aware that they were merely emulating the very same gender roles, with Veraline as the needy woman (or "vierge folle" -crazy virgin- as Rimbaud called him in his opus magna Une Saison en efer). So, if he was right about the current inexistence of love and the need to re-invent it, neither homosexuality seemed to help pulling it on...
In the realms of literature, in Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë offered us a very interesting perspective on the problem. When Cathy (who is about to marry what can be easily seen as an ideal man and husband) is asked about her feelings for Heathcliff (the brute, the worst possible match), she answers not that he is the one she loves but, rather, her very own love and self... in her own words: "I am Heathcliff!... So don't talk of our separation again: it is impracticable"; on the other hand, in a latter chapter, Heathcliff prays to dead Catherine to never rest, to never live him, because she is his own life fuel as well... as he says: "I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!". So, as we can see, althought the nuclear meaning of love as merging/becoming one is still present, it is now explicitely stated the incompatibility of this with not just social/conventional so-called "love", but also with even one's own desires: that love isn't necessarily about breeding, finding the best match for one, or even about one's good and happiness; rather, it is often a very destructive force (Like Hideaki Anno would say). Hence: why is it so important? If, when authentic, it apparently gives nothing but misery, why we keep on striving for it? Is it a mistake? The answer, althought complex, can start to be grasped within the same novel and examples. You see: Catherine and Heathcliff didn't always know each other; their meeting wasn't really fate, but merely a (disastrous) coincidence; but the thing is, since it ever happened, they were always animically together, troughout absolutely everything; in a way, we could say that is not even that they made each other's heart happy (or miserable or anything), but, rather, they were each other's heart...
Finally, Villiers de L'Isle Adam has A HELL OF A LOT to say about this as well in L'Eve Future; so I'll only leave a few quotations for you to search upon:
"Does the body exist at all? Does one ever resemble oneself? [...] To resemble! Such prejudice belongs to the lakeside days, or troglodytes!"
"You said it yourself (continued Edison): the being that you love in the living one and who, for you, is the only REAL one, it's not the one that appears as a walking human, but the one of your desire. The one that does not exist and, moreover, that you know as non-existent! since you aren't fooled by that woman, nor by yourself. [...] It's only this shadow what you love: it's only her what you're now willing to die for [...] and wich is nothing else but your own soul unfolded on her. Yes, there you've got it, your love."
"My being in this low world depends, for you at least, only on your free will [said Hadaly]. Attribute a being to me, affirm that I am! Reinforce me with your self. […] If you question my being, I am lost.
-Villiers de L'Isle Adam
In any case, it all converges around love being something that some contemporary psychologists apparently identify with a pathological state of mind... And so, here would come my idea of it:
In abstract, love would be a process of splitting/depersonalization, by which one's identity is translated/merged/turned into one's own concept of someone/something else, that thus becomes the object of one's love. In other words: love is a phenomenon by wich one comes to re-organize and re-understand oneself entirely, by the means of an alleged otherness that is, ultimately, nothing but one's own invention.
About the relation of this with the waifu (or the love between parents-children, a hobbie, or a Deity), that's for you -and only you- to think about.
Post edited on 3rd Jun 2012, 3:10am