Today is Valentine’s Day and I find myself reading Alain de Botton‘s book Essays in Love. By chance, instead of being on one of the less love-y chapters, such as ‘Romantic Fatalism’, ‘Intermittances of the Heart’, or ‘Romantic Terrorism’, this morning I was at the chapter ‘Speaking Love’ where de Botton analyzes the difficulty his experience of first trying to articulate sentiments of love for his girlfriend Chloe.
There seemed to be no way to transport love in the word L-O-V-E without at the same time throwing the most banal associations into the basket. The word was too rich in foreign history: everything from the Troubadours to Casablanca had cashed in on the letters. Was it not my duty to be the author of my own feelings? Would I not have to fashion a declaration with a uniqueness to match Chloe’s? I felt disconcertingly aware of the mundanity of our situation: a man and a women, lovers, celebrating a birthday in a Chinese restaurant, one night in the Western world, somewhere toward the end of the twentieth century. No, my meaning could never make the journey in L-O-V-E. It would have to seek alternative transportation.