“What’s love got to do with it?” Sang Tina Turner
“What’s love but a second hand emotion?..
What’s love but a sweet old fashioned notion”
There’s a new club on campus, just a handful of kids, who are dissatisfied with their learning bundled into neat little courses, and seek the wisdom of looking at the spaces between the disciplines. The kid who started the club was my student last term, one of those brilliant, curious, inspiring young people it’s just an honor to meet! Anyway the topic he wants to explore is a classic: “Love”. Originally for Valentine’s Day week, it’s been postponed to now, early April because their life “stuff” got in the way of the planned schedule. But now it’s spring, a time we traditionally read from Song of Songs, and it seems just perfect timing.
I’m one of the two presenters, and I am hoping that because of the interdisciplinary theme, they won’t mind if I merge the science with music and a children’s book!
Back to Tina Turner:
Love’s definitely a first hand emotion, strongly controlled by several hormones, for the various types of love
Oxytocin: released by the pituitary commands a new mom to fall helplessly in love with her newborn, and facilitates breast feeding.
Sex hormones for eros, of course.
Dopamine for the type of love which is addictive, that spurs uncontrollable desire.
Definitely a first hand emotion.
As for the “sweet old fashioned notion” which praises lust and belittles love in Tina’s song, consider this: Many animals, Tigers, for example, mate and separate, leading a solitary lives, but lone humans and our infants are helpless. Humans are very social, and our young require an enormous time commitment compared to other mammals, the kind that requires love and altruism for family and group survival.
In a song called “Love will show the way” Dave Wilcox presents a fabulous argument that love is far more than a sweet old fashioned notion.
You say you see no hope, you say you see no reason to believe
that the world could ever change, you say that love is foolish to believe in, ’cause there’ll always be some crazy, with an army or a knife, to take away your daydream, put the fear back in your life…” Then David riffs off of Macbeth: all the world’s a stage…
“It is love that mixed the mortar and it’s love that stacked these stones, and it’s love that built the stage here, though it looks like we’re alone. In this scene set all in shadows, like the night is here to stay, there is evil cast around us, but it’s love that wrote the play, and in this darkness love will show the way”
And David’s right – love has built us. It may seem inadequate at times, but it did get us here!
And love is one of those things that exists in the space between, more than the sum of its parts, right up the alley of this club. In a sweet children’s story, the Velveteen rabbit, the love of a child turns a beloved stuffed bunny real. The bunny becomes shabby from use, and is finally consumed in flame because it’s a mass of scarlet fever germs. It only then becomes real. Life consumes us too. Perhaps love’s the more powerful reality which transcends our “flash in the pan” lives. Though insubstantial, it can make our lives real with meaning.
Finally, the musical “Rent” is playing on campus this week. In Rent’s most famous song, Seasons of Love “how do measure a year in the life? In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee, in inches, in miles in laughter in strife, in, 525,600 minutes, how do you measure a year in the life? How about love?” Suggests Larson. A good question!