As an avid reader, I find that Russian novelist, Vladimir Nabokov, has a fairly accurate view on love. To him, love is “madness and transformation, outrage and hallucination.” He illustrates this view in his novel, Lolita, where he depicts the story of a middle-aged man in love with his 14-year-old stepdaughter.
By now, most of you are probably thinking that Nabokov is a sick and twisted individual, who is just “madly in love” with the thought of deviating from the social norm. But to him, love isn’t hearts and teddy bears. It isn’t holding hands on a beach watching a beautiful sunset. Love isn’t beautiful at all- it’s dark.
This is why I envy this writer. The words he writes about “love” make you uncomfortable. He reaches into the depths of this emotion and finds the aspects that are not attractive, but real. It seems these days there are more occurrences proving the notion that love is not necessarily a beautiful thing, compared with ones that portray love as an amazing entity.
Take the recent scandal in the astronaut community. Lisa Nowak didn’t drive to Florida from Houston wearing adult diapers to tell her lover William Oefelein how much she loved him. She made that 15-hour drive to confront and possibly harm the “other woman” in a complicated love triangle. This certainly was no love story.
Even the great love stories of the past were based on tragedy. Sure Romeo and Juliet were in love with each other, but they also betrayed their families, lied to those around them and killed themselves in order to “be with each other.” If that is what it takes to make a one-month-long relationship work, then count me out.
The concept of love is also found in many of the world’s major religions. People all over the globe find peace and comfort practicing these religions, but no one can deny that religion has been the topic of bitter dispute for the last 2000 years. No one can agree on the interpretation of religious texts, people are constantly fighting over “holy lands” and many die as the result of their different views. If religion is based on the concept of love and love is supposedly a beautiful thing, then people should not be fighting each other and dying over it.
The American divorce rate should also be noted while discussing all of love’s shortcomings. I used to think vows meant something. This is probably directly related to the fact that most Americans marry for money or appearance, mistaking these things for love. Or maybe this is what love has become for most people.
Of those who are now divorced, marrying that middle-class, not-so-attractive person 10 years ago probably doesn’t look so bad now that they have had four more failed marriages and a $20,000 child support bill every month. If love was so wonderful, it wouldn’t allow for situations like this to happen.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, or astronaut for that matter, to deduce that love brings out the worst in people. Just like Nabokov has- expressed in many of his novels, ‘love isn’t what it seems.’