Love and Madness
My lengthy epistle on Sunday seems to have touched a chord with a lot of people. There's some phraseology in it that would normally have fallen victim to the delete key on grounds of sentimentality but I think I got away with it because I was writing from the heart. It was something of a surprise to find I still had one.
I covered so many issues that some of them really deserved a longer discussion so I'll return to a few of them over the coming days and weeks.
That dangerous four letter word 'love' got bandied around as though it were an unqualified Good Thing. But I'm not really so sure about that. We live in a culture where we're bombarded with images of romantic love from early childhood and conditioned to think that 'happiness' is our birthright and that romantic love is the principal means of achieving it.
Science has now shown what many of us always suspected: that love is a form of madness. As I understand the research, when rendered into comprehensible form for laymen like me, physical and emotional attraction to another person produces changes in the chemistry of the brain that are not unlike the effects of some drugs. This will come as no surprise to anyone who's ever been in love. But this reaction is only short-term. One school of thought is that it's designed to last long enough for a couple to rear children to the point where they are relatively self-sufficient. This point was probably reached much sooner in pre-industrial communal societies with shorter life spans than our own, where children are regarded as dependent well into their teenage years.
This raises the question of whether 'living happily ever after' is necessarily viable in scientific or biological terms. Many people do achieve apparently happy long-term relationships. (That 'apparently' is there for a reason). Some of these people say that these relationships evolve from romantic passion into close friendship. They may owe much to Pascal's statement that the cause of man's unhappiness is that he can't stay happily in his room alone.
Some relationships survive years of arguing, bickering and mutual irritation - and sometimes infidelity - because those concerned say rather self-righteously that marriage or partnership is 'something you have to work at'. I've always thought that if you have to work at it and you're not happy, it's not worth the candle and you might as well say, in the words of the song, "let's call the whole thing off".
Having said that, I still think the experience of 'being in love' is worth having, if only to see what all the fuss is about. And because when the coup de foudre strikes me (got to use French when you're talking about love), I'm the most soppily sentimental person you could meet (typical bloody Pisces). But it should come with a Government Health Warning. The cold turkey you'll get when it all goes pear-shaped is worse than anything you'll get from crack cocaine. Let's be blunt. Many people kill themselves and quite a few kill the former object of their love or the bastard who stole them, or both. Crimes of Passion, because their neurons were off the wall on substances supplied free of charge within their own skulls.
Serious stuff. Handle with care.
Send your problems to Uncle Willie. Fucked up enough himself to make the perfect Agony Uncle.
Having twice slagged off Germaine Greer, I forced myself to listen to her Woman's Hour interview today.
She's still talking about Big Brother as though it mattered, rather than it being just a cheap and cynical television entertainment programme, and about her attempt to lead a revolution of the 'housemates' as though she'd been trying to overthrow a fascist state. That's why I think she's lost her marbles.
She also said that she couldn't live in Australia to be close to her old and ailing mother because she couldn't earn a living there. Jenni Murray missed a trick by not asking her why. Could it be because the Aussies have decided that she's a couple of cans short of a six pack?