“Love is Dead”?

The statement, “Love is dead,” may only be taken meaningfully if viewed in a context. As a description of a particular event, we may utter it in reference to a specific relationship that has lost its original state of deep intimacy. The statement, therefore, refers and points to a concrete circumstance of actual human experience; something whose real occurrence is not special or unique but commonplace in a variety of conditions. It points to the fact that there is nothing persistently eternal in love. Love comes and goes; it appears and disappears. Its magic shines at one point and loses its brilliance at another. There is nothing permanent and immortal in love. But again, lest we lose track of our reference point, the context is particular–or more accurately, specific–experience and not general, much less universal.

The death of love in one particular experience does not accurately sustain the idea that love is dead as a matter of generalization for reality proves otherwise. Such is a clear case of hasty generalization that only feeds emotional exaggeration. There could be thousands of instances where we could consistently say that love has already died in the personal lives of diverse individual persons, but love remains alive and kicking in thousands of other people’s lives. As long as there are lovers, love cannot die in the experiences of these people. And in this connection, even if we stretch the scope of signification to the universal degree, love as such will never die.

In fact, even when a partner in a relationship bound by deep love as in the case of two lovers–they could be husband and wife–has already passed on (read: died), the love of the living partner for the former lingers and lives on within the lifetime of the latter. This is, therefore, an affirmation that in certain cases, love seems undying. And what could be the problem if we call this “true love”? Nothing at all, for true love is the love that never dies.

God may die as the German philologist Friedrich Nietzsche figuratively puts it in his Thus Spoke Zarathustra (in the original German: Also Sprach Zarathustra) while advancing the notion that in reality, there is no God at all since such is just a product of human conceptualization. But such formulation never applies to love since it is above and beyond a concept. In fact, the Austrian-Jewish Hasidic philosopher Martin Buber situates it in a more noteworthy location in his I-Thou (in the original German: Ich-Du) by describing love as “a relationship-between” and not “an experience-within”. Buber asserts:

“Love is the responsibility of an I for a You: in this consists what cannot consist in any feeling – the equality of all lovers. . . .”

Perhaps, appropriating the Buberian contextual configuration would lead us to infer that, on the one hand, “experiential love” which generally depends on an emotional platform as a matter of subjective feeling is the kind of love that could possibly meet its death. On the other hand, “relational love” which draws its strength equally from the energies of individual persons in love with each other is the kind of love that never dies. This notion is likewise echoed in the Lebanese philosopher Kahlil Gibran’s words “On Love” in his monumental opus, The Prophet:

Love gives naught [nothing] but itself
and takes naught[nothing] but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.

In the final analysis, we could truly say that for some individuals, love is really dead, but lovers come and go every now and then without losing their sense of love and this assures us that by and large, love is always alive.

(c) Ruel F. Pepa, 03 December 2019