Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Arbritrariness of Love

I've often wondered how one person ends up coupled with another. Of all the people in the world, how does this particular person end up with that particular one? I mean, as easily attracted to other beings as we are, how do we end up friends or lovers with that one? And how did they end up with us? It can seem so arbitrary. I ask partially because I'm single, but also partially because the question fills me with a kind of wonder and marvel.

I am currently reading The American Religion, by Harold Bloom. He says that all the religous esctasy involved in big religious gatherings since about 1840 are really just charged with a bunch of sexual energy. Being a "Christian", I'm thinking two thoughts at once. One: yeah, he's right (at least partially). Two: how dare he!? How does he get off? This lead me to sort of an open-ended question with hardly even any formulation. Basically, though - so where does love come from? Rather, how do we end up in love with SOMEONE (rather than ambiguously wriggling around on the ground in "religous esctasy")? Again, I was sort of marveled by thoughts on the whole thing. I had a feeling that my question, the "answer", along with my thoughts on the matter, had something to do with God. But I wasn't sure what exactly.

Then tonight I went to see "Tristan and Isolde", recently out in theaters (1.12.06). At the beginning, as they began to fall in love, I'm thinking, "how in earth did this happen? I mean, besides all the crazy-ass circumstances behind these two peple meeting each other in the first place, much less in this way, why are they choosing to love each other? After all, both could have chosen their duties over the draw of the other's beauty from the beginning. Or they both could have waited in expatation of waiting for and falling on love with another. Anyway, then, at the end, as Tristan is lying there crying on his "death-bed", beside the river, with Isolde crying, I realized how much those questions just didn't matter for them. They were in love, and that was all they knew. Their love comprised their world. And the Love was greater than the Duty or the Death. Spurred by my recent studies of the institution of marriage in the ancient Hebrews, I had the thought that rang so true (ignoring for a moment the other un-mentioned-in-this-blog ways that this movie did not ring true with me), that the only reason two people ever love each other is because God loves us. After all, that's what a God is. Without the "god" of some-thing, that "thing" is not. Without God, there would be no love (nor anything else). And it is from God where comes this wierd and "arbitrary" stuff called Love.

What a thought. All love between people is a glimpse into God's love for us, the world, and all of creation. And God's love for creation is actually what determines all of the seemingly arbitrary love going on around here. The immensity of the world, and all the love going around. And it's all "just" a glimpse, and a revelation. Wow. I pray that I can understand and enter into that relationship of Love (of God for us) better (possibly even through the love between a woman and myself, perhaps?).


Thanks for responding to my comments.

First of all, I know a great many architects, and I can tell you that among them there are poets, attorneys, writers, painters, and city planners--but you are the first architect I have ever met who is also a serious and articulate theologian!

Ritual is an important topic to me. We are Jewish and on most Friday nights--when we are actually going to be home and sitting down to dinner and doing honor to the ritual--we light Shabbat candles and say the blessings. I also keep a very basic form of kosher: no pork and no shellfish. I started doing that at a moment in my life when I had prayed for and been granted a significant blessing and realized after a while that I had done nothing to repay the gift--and somehow approaching what I ate in a more conscious and sacramental way felt right to me. That was seven years ago now. The Shabbat ceremony, to me, celebrates the collaboration between God and Man: we don't bless fire, grapes and wheat--we bless candles, bread and wine. The ritual has direct aural, visual, olfactory, tactile and gustatory power in the life of my family when we really do it. Similarly, I can't imagine moving through the year without matzah at Passover, a booth in the yard at Sukkoth, fasting on Yom Kippur. These are the actions that remind me that all of creation is a blessing to be honored.

Take care, and stay in touch.

Thanks for the poem. Very mysterious, and there's beauty in it. And it feels like Los Angeles. What brought you here from Virginia?

I take it so for granted that Bach is played live on piano in the house. I grew up from pre-memory sitting under the piano while my father played Bach, Mozart, Gershwin, Jerome Kern. Piano lessons were as basic a part of growing up for my brother, myself and all our kids as baseball bats and tricycles. And when my wife and I were married we took all the money we got from our parents and bought a Steinway. There just didn't seem to be any other option. I'm not a musician, either, though my wife and son are--but everybody puts up with the way I plow enthusiastically through a prelude.

As for John Kaliski--I don't know him, but I've googled him and he looks like an interesting designer. Is he a teacher of yours? Employer?
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