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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

That's Longer Than I Thought

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Italian researches have concluded that the feeling of being "in love" only lasts about a year. Take that, Hollywood.

Normally I would regard a study such as this with skepticism; as if contemporary science can measure such a thing as "love." There. Did you catch it? It's the association of the feeling of being "in love" with "love." My own instinctive association of the one with the other is why I'm positively gleeful over this study. Because they're not the same thing. Yet our civilization is awash--positively awash--with the expectation that they are the same thing.

Now it's entirely possible that I internalized all of those movies and pop songs growing up to a much more unhealthy degree than any of Not Prince Hamlet's readers did. In fact, that's quite likely. But, even so, the cultural landscape that we all inhabit operates largely on the false assertion that love involves, ever and always, those Nerve Growth Factor molecules in abundance. And it further asserts that when those molecules become scarce, then "love" is no longer the thing that you are dealing with, and so you'd best go get in love with someone else.

Think of the overwhelming amount of the popular articstic canvass given over to the "love story" or of a "love song." It's tremendous. And it makes paradigmatic the experience of being "in love." Being in love is, of couse, great. As far as it goes. And I'm just as much of a sucker for a love story or love song as the next guy. The problem is that there are just so many love stories and love songs, so many different expressions of the same experience, that our imagination has short-circuited when it comes to years two, three, four and beyond of a relationship. Our imagination has no trouble at all connecting with the cinematic or the musical expression of year one, but after that the pickins become quite slim. And what pickins there are seem to be overly concerned with re-creating the experience of being "in love," with going back to that state, with remembering it and somehow reclaiming it; it's the misty water-colored memories of the way we were.

Would that there were more of this:

A decade

When you came, you were like red wine and honey,
And the taste of you burnt my mouth with its sweetness.
Now you are like morning bread,
Smooth and pleasant.
I hardly taste you at all for I know your savour,
But I am completely nourished.
Amy Lowell
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 5:36 PM

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