by Kleitia Vaso

A short meditation on love, the only emotion that matters, the one that makes everything else come alive: the no-longer distant sky, the stars, now forever belonging to Van Gogh, borne of his excessive and fatal love for the world, the life and light-giving sun, the beautiful and solitary moon that one feels like kissing when looking at it, perfectly round and pale.

Every ache and every joy, its derivative. A stomach ache, a headache, a cramp, a twist, a rash, an irritation, signs of love missing, insufficient, misplaced, avoided, overindulged. The body turns on itself because it has to supplement the absence of feeling, thought, happiness and suffering. Or, rather the brain turns it against us with its diabolical machinations. But, the physical discomfort brings relief anyway and although we complain, we discuss it, cling to it, play with it like a cat with a toy while it distracts us from the real disease.

Passion about social causes, faces distorted from anger about injustices, protests about something or another, all channels of love, deviated.

The same deviated love that breeds the unhappiness which the aforementioned reactions aim to remedy but, usually, simply mirror.

Hikes, bike rides, love of food, its restriction, shopping, dedication to your job, worrying about countless and equally meaningless details only mimic the effects and symptoms of love, its exhilaration, the craving it creates, the anxiety accompanying it, its both beautifying and uglifying effects.

The only emotion, other than love of work – a calling, not simply a job – that makes one really feel, in certain moments, the overwhelming wonder at being alive in your own body. That and works of art might approximate what is commonly considered a religious experience which, regardless of the personal deity, seems no more or less than the short-lived but unforgettable grasping of what it means and feels like to be alive.

This kind of love, however, does not come at a bargain price, try as one might to outsmart life and others. If you’ve made a deal, check the quality.

I remember one of those cases of reading something only to fully understand it later. Specifically, when Adorno with his scalpel-like mind wrote in Minima Moralia that public life has invaded the private sphere and everything has assumed the traits of commerce, to paraphrase it roughly, I remember nodding knowingly but not really, profoundly understanding.

Well, now I know exactly what he meant. Transactions have invaded every sphere, even love which should remain pure. I am not referring here to monetary transactions which, in terms of love, would only include prostitution and marriage, linked here simply by the contractual aspects of both. I mean love treated as a practical good, as a service in which one gives and pretends the same in return, with every sacrifice made with the aim of receiving something equal in weight. But, these rules do not apply here and neither are they welcome. Where if one lowers one’s guard, the other immediately seizes the opportunity to lower the price or reduce the quality of service.

At the point in which these maneuvers begin, reason and insincerity enter the picture and there goes love. When one, the other, both, all begin to offer lower prices, detract from their offerings, add a demand here, subtract a gesture there, then the feeling, greater than all of us, escaping every definition, able to elevate or destroy us, has been captured, bottled up and become a product, a service, bound, limited and, above all, useful.

And useful it shouldn’t be. It is extraneous, a luxury good if pushed to use the language of tradesmen and merchants. The irrational is what keeps it alive, the unmediated gesture made corresponding to the desire inside, the only profit being the happiness or emotion created in another. The unnecessary is what nourishes it and that is why when one tries to explain or understand where it all went, one must account for the x factor, the incalculable element, necessary as the air we breathe.

by Kleitia Vaso