“Absurdity is king, but love saves us from it.” – Albert Camus, Notebooks 1935-1942, (June 1938).
Last time we explored some of the thoughts of great thinkers on the purpose of romantic love in the understanding and experience of the meaningful life. Today I wish to express some personal views on the metaphysical implications of true love between two people. While infatuation with another person offers some clue as to these principles, people who have been deeply in love know that they are fully realized only in its pure form.
We start with Kant who declares that a key a priori proposition of reality is that all events occur in space and time, which is to say that no matter the truth of any statement about any event, we know that at a minimum it will occur in space and time. But love transcends space and time; thus time with one’s beloved passes quickly while time apart passes slowly, and no matter how recently you first met, internally you sense you have always known each other and time before that meeting becomes attenuated. This kind of love never wanes, in fact, one cannot imagine an eternal afterlife without the one we love.
Likewise transcendence of the spatial dimension is the reason you can never be close enough to the one you love and why no distance diminishes your love for them (making love in this sense stronger than any force in the universe). There is another way in which love violates metaphorically the laws of space that most come to experience; what I call the two world theory. That is, lovers live in two worlds: the large world of family, society, occupation, politics, and humanity; and the little world – a world of just two – a world where lovers sometimes find themselves unexpectedly, and the one they to which they learn to retreat. Purpose then comes down to prioritizing the little world over the large one. All of these transcendental qualities of love then are a powerful means to escape the material reality encased in space-time.
Free will, fate, and fortune also are amplified in the realm of romantic love. On the one hand those in love feel an inescapable force willing them to love the other, while on the other hand, true love permits complete freedom as no actions by one of the pair diminish the love of the other. Meanwhile most persons in love feel their love is fate or destiny, while simultaneously being awed by the incredibly good fortune to have met their soulmate.
Love includes other remarkable features. For example the sudden falling in love is an accessible instance of the Zen concept of the grasping of reality; at thunderbolt speed, one loves without full knowledge but with complete knowing. Also love is a spiritual pairing an affirmation of the dual nature of reality (material and immaterial), a powerful example of the enigmatic deconstructed soul. In profound moments some may experience dissolution of identity, as one’s identity is inescapably altered by merging with another’s.
Regrettably some never come to know metaphysical love while others choose to forego it. I suspect a meaningful life is possible in the absence of romantic love, but it is a purpose not to be missed lightly.