Friday, July 25, 2003

More love labor lost.

Josh Chafez continues with his quest to understand love at first sight. Part III centers around reader comments and this phrase:
So, again, let me put the question: if we believe that love of body and soul together is a higher form of eros than mere love (I would say "lust") for a beautiful body, then why do we so idealize love at first sight? I am not saying that love at first sight is implausible, nor am I saying that people who fall in love at first sight are necessarily ill-suited to one another in the long-run, nor am I saying that love at first sight has nothing to do with the soul of the beloved. But I am asking why we seem to value love at first sight more highly than a love that takes its time, a love that develops and matures as the lover comes to more fully know the soul of the beloved. Far from positing a soul-body duality, I think I am asking that we take the connection more seriously than partisans of love at first sight generally do.

Well, I think Josh has already answered that question here:

Romeo and Juliet, Ferdinand and Miranda, Florizel and Perdita are simply lucky. It just so happened that the people to whom they were physically attracted (that is, attracted "at first sight") turned out also to have beautiful souls. But this need not have been so. Indeed, it often is not. So, when we praise love at first sight as the exemplar of pure love, are we praising anything more than mere chance?

Well, at least he posited the question. I guess my take on it is, "Why not?" Why not consider yourself lucky to have found a soul-mate and partner based on primarily physical appearance briefly glanced at? When one wins a lottery is obviously luck, and that's what makes both the elation of winning and the high stakes possible. The high stakes of expecting or seeking love at first sight are possible because

  1. there is a small supply of it.
  2. the benefits of such love, in the eyes of its seeker, far outweigh the costs.
In fact, I think analogies to gambling, primarily low-probability high-payoff games like lotto are quite appropriate and similarities are plentiful. So if we praise chance for winning the lottery, why not when winning the lottery of love? Clearly there is not some internal merit Juliet or Romeo possess that should make them winners. If one is to suppose that finding and winning love is worthwhile then it is worth careful thinking, romancing, and decision-making. Obviously, skipping this arduous steps and simply falling in love - and being reciprocated - is lucky. Nothing wrong with that.

To clarify, the luck I am talking about need not come specifically from Fortune and be capricious and random as Greeks liked it. Providence would do just as well for our purposes, I think.


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