Leave love to lovers, love

September 20, 2012
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 4 minutes

By: Oskar Niburski

I understate many things and understand even less than that. For example, I do not understand quantum mechanics, people, administration, and legal proceedings, nor can I grasp how refrigerators work, when my dog must go pee, and what I mean when I say I love you.

I have never been in love before, maybe that is why I am unable to accurately understand the notion of love. From an overview, you seem to be taking some sort of emotional average, with it’s range being everything you experienced together and transmogrified into one word. But that is just one statistical way of looking at it. If you are like me, then you tried different things - like writing a book for them.

And when all of the 181 pages are complete, you realize you have not said enough. So then you use body language and when she comments playfully about your thrusting, you quickly switch to posting 500 post-it notes on their wall, each with a unique message regarding musicals and travels and poppy seed bagels, but when that still is not enough, you try to tell them: I love you.

She stares in your direction.

Those three words have been written on everything from tree bark to washroom stalls. This arduous graffiti makes love seem slightly trivial: if cellulose has the word engraved in its atomic structure, what makes your sentence so special? This inevitable and unoriginal thought leaves you with apologies, fumbling around your own tongue, burrowing your hands deep into your pockets, forcing you to utter three more words - I am sorry – more aptly summarized as I am sorry cannot tell you how much I love you.

The word feels recherché in your mouth, and when you used it the first time, you felt like you diffused a bomb with a paperclip. Somehow, you did, and this escapes you. It escapes many, though. Love is the world’s most known and debated subject, with major religion somehow equating God into love or that the feelings we have are connected to some seraphic order.

But I am not writing to proselytize anyone, nor am I trying to consecrate the word itself. I am more likely attempting the opposite. Maybe if I outline love’s etymology I can better understand the word myself. Love, or “lufu,” comes from the German language and roughly would translate into “desire.” It has created other Anglo-Saxon derivates such as leave and lief. Interestingly, lief is just an archaic way of describing happiness.

These definitions do not aid me, however. I remember the well quoted Sonnet 18: “so as long as men can breathe or eyes can see, so long lives this, and this give life to thee.” Yet even Shakespeare never mentions love in his poem. We only have implicit references to it, which continues to cause uproar on whether Shakespeare was in love or was trying to find it still.

This is discouraging to me, because if love cannot be defined by the world’s greatest poet, what chance does the Silhouettes’ worst Opinion’s contributor have? Shakespeare’s answer seemingly was that we can only be left with the enigmatic. But I want to tell them and her and everyone else how much they mean to me. I need to do what Shakespeare didn’t. I need to capture the word’s highs and lows in all its totality.

In order to do this, I turn to the master logician, Ludwig Wittgenstein. But logic can fail too, and so Wittgenstein’s response is more than frustrating. He says that the limits of the language are the limits of his world. Blast, what good is private or public language when our vernacular fails to define a simple four-letter word? I am in awe, and rightfully so.

Yet I wonder if Wittgenstein ever went into a paint shop? Of course, that is not to question the great man, because he surely has an answer. But I think it necessary to show the reader something they already are well acquainted with. There is a prodigious amount of colours, commensurate to the different wavelengths that exist, and only so many words to describe them.

Red, pink, reddish-pink, pinkish-red, rouge, hot pink– as one can tell, despite the wide range of spectrum between these colours, will soon not last. The number of colours will be greater than the number of words used to describe them. That is not to say those colours do not exist though, but rather there seems to be an inability to define them. So we are the mercy of our words.

And when I said I loved you, I must have been at your mercy. I wondered how you would react, when I had disarmed my olive branch, this dove in front of you, now empty-handed. This vulnerability made me squint and supine, making me wait for the killing blow. What came was a kiss, and the most striking following was, I couldn’t say a word.  Speechless could describe that… maybe.

When we try to describe the ineffable, we most likely will get frustrated. In a way this is to my advantage for if I were to tell you everything about my partner, describing them head to toe, you might fall in love with them too. Yet if I cannot describe love, even to my significant other, how can I explain the joys I am feeling to you?

I could refer to Dante’s canzones about Beatrice, or perhaps to Einstein’s famous quotes about the matter, but we would be left sitting around, wondering what they meant. Therefore although I cannot describe to you this wonderful and staggering topic, I hope you will remember this poorly written article. If you do, maybe one day you will be walking down the road, and suddenly observe two people, one with dirty blond hair and the other sporting the darkest brown you’d think it was black, laughing just slightly too loud. You might hear this elated laughter, become curious, and then note they are holding hands, smiling with off-white teeth, and their legs are swinging oddly coloured pants in unison. They are side by side, concerned with only where the next foot will take them. They’ll look up at you, nod knowingly, and then be off their way, leaving you to wonder like in a paint store: those two were lief.

Perhaps better put - those two were in love.


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