Cupid’s Erotic Meditation

domiesby Glenn Fairman   2/14/14
It is Valentine’s Day, and I must be off—sheep-man that I am—to purchase the obligatory items for my wife so that she does not feel slighted on this day that commerce has decreed should be the “Celebration of Passionate and Affectionate Love.” Not that I am counter to the Spirit of Eros mind you; I just cannot get over the image of me as a now middle aged man in the “throes of eros.” However, I am not so jaded that I cannot remember the adamantine urges that comprised one healthy set of glands calling out to another or the intricate plans and routes I traversed in consummating what I believed to be the quest for High Romance. It is just that in retrospect, much of it now appears to have been prodded by the biological rutting instinct of a testosterone saturated Lothario.

Eros, often thought of as that winged cherub armed with quiver and bow that personifies and perhaps dignifies the pursuit of romance, carries with it a deeper perspective that perhaps illuminates what the Greeks viewed as love. In its loftier Platonic incarnation, Eros is the search for meaning: for longing—for uniting disparate parts into wholes. In philosophy it is the divine medium that draws lovers of wisdom inexorably from opinion to knowledge. It elevates us in our desire to transcend ourselves—to both know and to be known. To be at one with knowing. Eros of this sort produces a tranquility of soul. It fuels the noble pursuit towards the apprehension of reality and transcends by an order of magnitude that fiery merging of bodies that rapidly burns and cools, having spent itself in a quick burst of passion.[pullquote]It [love] often requires that one puts his needs on the back burner and that one diminishes for the sake of another. Although this is not the sexiest view of love in a modern world saturated in self-absorption, it is clearly the more heroic.[/pullquote]

Now, I am not adverse to a good burst of passion mind you, but any old settled couple will tell you that the character of that love imperceptibly evolves as it ripens and deepens. C.S. Lewis remarked that: “Love is unselfishly choosing for another’s highest good.” Love of this quality ceases to objectify the other as a tawdry means to attain our own pleasure. It crystallizes into a real concern for the loved one—independent of what that person can do for us. Such a love requires the maturing organ of empathy as its noble engine. It often requires that one puts his needs on the back burner and that one diminishes for the sake of another. Although this is not the sexiest view of love in a modern world saturated in self-absorption, it is clearly the more heroic. And if the lover is great of soul—infinitely more satisfying.

This idealized love is perhaps merely the shadow of a greater and transcendent love that we understand as Divine, but that quality of love is so far beyond us we can only catch glimpses of it in fits and starts. Therefore, it is well and fitting that we should fully comprehend the fullness of human love in the aged couple who endure in caring for one other when flesh and reason fail and when no hope of reciprocation is any longer possible. It is love of this character that reveals the biblical aim of matrimony: for the two have effectively become “one flesh.” Can it be so surprising that when one half of such a loving pair passes beyond the earthly veil, they are oftentimes quickly followed by the other? The idealized sentiments of St. Valentine’s Day cards were composed for loves such as this.

If you live long enough you are bound to have your heart crushed at least a few times. Conversely, if you are blessed you may experience that great and golden love of a devoted man or woman; or the indescribable joy that comes from a child or grandchild loving you from their soul’s full breadth. More importantly, you will learn the profound lessons of love when you ultimately kiss your loved ones a final Good Bye; for death, above all things, brings to bear the recitation of love that will school us beyond measure as it breaks our hearts with a pain that we should never have dreamed bearable.

And so, as we indulge in our annual mad scramble for card, rose or candy, even the best of us may be tempted to question the entire enterprise of love’s odyssey. Once again, Mr. Lewis says it best: “Why love if losing hurts so much? We love to know that we are not alone.”
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Glenn Fairman writes from Highland, Ca. He can be reached at arete5000@dslextreme.com. • (1947 views)

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15 Responses to Cupid’s Erotic Meditation

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    That’s a terrific essay, Glenn.

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    As Glenn surely knows, there are three types of love according to Christian tradition: philos, eros, and agape.

    Agape is the unconditional love that originates from God. Eros is sort of the equivalent of lust. And Philos is a sort of familial or brotherly love. I think there are other formulations of that a well. But the real point is, apparently the wizards of smart at what Jonah Goldberg calls “Satan’s Urinal” (Facebook) have just announced 50 new kinds of gender love.

    Rick Moran has a blog entry on that today.

    Happy Valentines day from….well, I’m still deciding on what to call my gender. But it changes from one hour to the next so that adds an element of difficulty.

  3. Glenn Fairman says:

    If one reads the works of Plato closely, eros means far more than that primal lust. Socrates is known as the Great Erotic not because of any carnal dalliance, as we learn in The Symposium, but from the tenor of his mind and thought. Instead of the merging of flesh, he was concerned with combining wholes from discrete parts…….his quest being the object of truth

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I suspect that there was some evolution in the meaning of the words over time. For example, my recollection is that Ptolemy Philadelphia was so-called for being the first of his line to follow the old Egyptian pharaonic practice of marrying his sister (Philadelphia referring both to brotherly and sisterly love).

    • Glenn Fairman says:

      BTW, the two elderly people in the hospital are my parents, who passed away very recently, close after one another. They were married for 55 years.

  4. Glenn Fairman says:

    An American Thinker comment from Chestertonian that says it all:

    “I am now a middle-aged (i.e. old) man myself. I recall the days of passion and its recklessness, and while not completely cured of the madness, I now have the upper hand and can deploy passion as my servant rather than my master.

    As I type, the object of my passion and devotion lays on my couch suffering one of those miserable mid-winter respiratory things, bad enough to induce fever and chills and general misery, but not so bad as to require medical intervention. I make her tea, rub lavender and peppermint oils into her temples, measure and re-measure the right amount of water and essential oils for the humidifier, which soothes her discomforts and sends her back off to sleep for a while.

    I sat here after waking, watching her turn and toss, moan and whimper, and all I could do was gently touch her hand and say, “rest easy, my love.” This, oddly enough, does calm her enough to rest at ease for a short while.

    In the scheme of things, she will be well in a day or two, but I shall never recover from the sight of her, which moves me to lay down even my life for her, if necessary. I can think of no more apt way to spend this day than serving her in her time of need.

    Love has redeemed my reckless passion and even it’s oft-wasted youth.”

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Yes, I read that. There are some great comments over there. Your readers (and AT’s readers) are consistently intelligent, wise, and insightful. I have AT in mind when it comes to creating the kind of atmosphere for commentors. Somehow they are able to weed at the obvious mindless contrarians and trolls.

      But for every yin there is a yang. I think I’ve grown somewhat past sentimentality…or have been just habituated to its absence. Women are far too much drama for me. May you all have your heart’s desires….and keep desiring until you are 95. But I’ll take my books, hiking, and computers any day of the week. No, they don’t return much love but neither do they manipulate you or play head games (although I’m not so sure about the computers in that regard).

      Love is great. I’ve been in love. But it’s just one of life’s aspects. John Lennon was wrong. Love is not all you need.

      I think many people are in love with the idea of love. But if love in a marriage can grow deeper (and I’m assuming it can and sometimes does), so does just an orientation toward life that becomes more and more satisfied without the roller coaster ride of various things.

      Love is great but, let’s be fair, it also drives a significant portion of the population to destructive ends. I’m hardly St. Thomas (or was it Augustine?) who prayed to god to be release from concupiscence. But there is something to be said for that.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        “I’m hardly St. Thomas (or was it Augustine?) who prayed to god to be release from concupiscence.”

        As I recall, it was Augustine, but be added a postscript “just not yet” or something very like that.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          LOL. Yeah, I love the “just not yet” part of it. I forgot about that. Very funny. Augustine could be a real hard-ass, but he showed he had a sense of humor…unless he was being completely serious.

          I will be today’s designated Valentine’s Day cynic. I think love is grand. But love is over-rated. And women — yikes — as they say, if they didn’t have vaginas, we would hunt them for sport. The irrationality of women is amazing.

          So is the typical vulgarity and violence of men, so it’s true what Dennis Prager says that both sexes have their stuff to work on. But the older I get, the more I prefer peace over the various human (and often petty) dramas.

          Love can be a great thing. But it’s also a strange and volatile thing. Isn’t it amazing that one can go from love to absolute hate in a relative heartbeat because of a betrayal or some other thing?

          Glenn is mostly talking, of course, about a selfless love, a love that exist not for one’s own pleasure but for the benefit of the other. And that’s a very nice thing…in theory.

          I suspect that in this narcissistic age, such love is relatively rare. But we have become very enamored as a culture with the idea of love. It’s almost become a marketing slogan. And the rather sterile and cold acquisitional habits we have developed for it have developed into quite an industry on this day.

          But, in the end, who can argue with Mary Tyler Moore:

          Love is all around, no need to waste it.
          You can have the town, why don’t you take it.
          You’re gonna make it after all,
          You’re gonna make it after all

  5. Glenn Fairman says:

    Yet, what inside our beings makes us value the selfless over the selfish? And why should the standard not be the other way round? And why are the sufferings that bind us to the love of another praiseworthy, and not merely pathetic? Why should we, indeed, aspire to be the hero of love rather than its villain, if our souls are in truth mere material spinning out from the cold congealed detritus of chance?

    Any one that has ever been around me can attest to the self will and fire that attends me. And it has taken a great amount of suffering to bring me to 31 years of marriage, much which have been, as they say, “difficult.” A deeply dividing family crisis nearly severed my marriage, but through the grace of God we rode it out. When the physical lure of flesh is spent, then one must learn to deal with a being that is often totally unlike oneself, and this often can resemble hell- with “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” But the feeling that “I could have done better,” has subsided and our children (and hopefully grandchildren) have become the reward for our endurance, prayer, and fortitude. Watching helplessly a year ago as my wife battled stage four uterine cancer and overcoming it dropped the scales from my eyes. Now I am a little more tolerant, thoughtful, and thankful, but much more needs to be done.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Ahhh…you wife is surely a very lucky woman.

      You remind me of just how much work a relationship is. Yikes. But it sounds as if you’ve soldiered through it with nobility and perseverance.

  6. Glenn Fairman says:

    some marriages I understand are idyllic and effortless. I do not know of any though. Marriage was my battleground and the means to my salvation. I do not want to say that it was all heavy lifting, but I divide those years as pre-crisis and post-crisis, and the latter have stuck in my head while the former feel as they were another man’s existence.

  7. Gloria R. DeForest says:

    Glenn,
    Whenever time permits, I enjoy the challenge of reading material derived from a true master-mind in writing!
    Utilizing philosophical content intertwined with simplicity, but yet written with an extraordinary set of writing skills … I think… broadens the interest of a bigger audience.
    Thank you for referencing this link as means to read more of your written material. I see it as an opportunity to enlighten the very skills I hope to possess myself some day!
    You have come a long ways since high school! Keep up the great work!

    Gloria DeForest

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Whenever time permits, I enjoy the challenge of reading material derived from a true master-mind in writing!

      Glenn receives a lot of good-natured — and sometimes not so good-natured — ribbing about his writing style. I’ll admit it gets a little thick. But, physician, heal thyself, I tell myself. Maybe I’m a little thick.

      I like stretching myself by reading Glenn’s writing. And that’s not to say that his text is always four layers of impenetrable. I think he often marvelously hits the nail on the head as concisely as anyone, if not more so.

      But the main thing is, he thinks and is not afraid to do so. He’s not afraid to call a spade a spade. He’s not afraid to have a strong opinion. He’s not afraid to notice if the emperor is strutting around buck-naked. He’s not namby-pamby. (I can forgive the sin of being wrong or even obtuse, but not of being namby-pamby.) And he often disrobes and bares the foolishness going on all around us like few others can.

      Welcome to the site, Gloria.

  8. Glenn Fairman says:

    Gloria DeForest was a cute girl in High School who it seems writes very well herself. Thanks Gloria for the kind words, dear. The only exercise for writing is to write. The only thing that can hold one back here is oneself.

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