When we hear people speak of the words “love” and “hate”, or the phrase, “I love you” or “I hate you”, what do they really mean? It seems to me that the word “love” is so beaten down upon, corrupted, and misused that it really makes the word trivial, and ultimately, meaningless.
But can we really use a single word like “love” to define, categorize, and quantify a hugely complex spectrum of qualitative emotions that we arrogantly dub the word “love” to? The way I see it, words are abused too often and are too arbitrary to describe human conditions at their deepest levels. Is it even justifiable to use a couple of the same words to describe emotions that are dynamic and are constantly in flux without undermining their presence and essence? What exactly is the relation between formal symbols in natural language and the private sensations of inner life?
Words like “love”, “like”, and “hate” carry many presuppositions that I want to try to overcome and think beyond. The word “love” is a word in language that designates a humanly construed, radial category of immense complexity. In this extraordinary complicated radial category, there is no single definition or of necessary and sufficient conditions that covers and defines all the cases, feelings, and sensations of love.
Phrases like “I love you”, or “I hate you” are universal and meta-narrated, where intensities and desires are heterogeneous, temporal, and fragmented. Therefore, words cannot contain the free flowing of life energy – energetics of desire that is circulating, flowing, drifting, and intensifying.
Words and language consequently freeze, immobilize, and paralyze the flow and intensities of desire and feelings due to their physicality. There are thousands of imperceptible and micro-intensities and desires that escape and overflow out of the physicality of written/spoken words in language. A word or two can never capture the break-flow of desires that multiplies in lines of escape.
When people throw around the word “love”, and abuse it to meet their means, they are presupposing that the desire they are trying to convey and communicate is a single, unified entity or phenomenon existing objectively in the world. But desires like “love” [or any other types of feelings] that we conceptualize and feel, is anything but unified, universal, or quantifiable. Sensations and emotions of any kinds do not simply designate an objectifying existing category of phenomena, defined by conditions that operate within a single logic or sets of universal representation of words and metaphorical concepts in our mind-independent world. In other words, the way we normally conceptualize and express the sensations in our inner lives is inconsistent with what language itself can provide.
“Love”, in itself is an idealized and synthetic terminology within a sign system that we point to in order to match a particular sensation with when we try to make other people feel what we feel while presupposing that the person we are speaking to has also agreed to use it that way.
But no two people can ever come to an agreement of what the word “love” feels like to the person speaking the word. Not to mention that only I can really know whether or not I feel a particular sensation, the other person can only assume to know how I feel based on a word I utter out. The concepts that are connected to a particular word are distinct from the concept of that same word in your head. When I speak of the word “love”, I am pointing to and throwing a word out there into the world so that you can match it with the concepts that exist in your mind. However, even though we share the same language and can both speak of the same word, we can only superficially understand and agree upon the meaning of that word “by principle”.
The way I look at it, feelings and sensations are different in kinds, not in degrees. Sensations and feelings are qualities that can be shown, but they cannot be said. If love or the understanding of love is to be conveyed, it cannot be done in literal language in the same way that scientific knowledge or empirical evidence is conveyed. We have to keep in mind that what we really want to say or stated is ineffable, therefore, it has to be conveyed another way: it has to be shown and felt.
When I mechanically express my sensations using the words “love”, “like”, and “infatuated”, I am presupposing that these emotions are quantitatively different in degree that is measurable (“how much do you love him?), when in fact, it is not. We tend to think that we can produce a particular sensation in succession of spatially divisible “states” that can be truncated from a larger spatial spectrum of immobile, distinct, and juxtaposed sensations that is still and could never be modified.
But phenomenologically speaking, our inner and intuitive realities are distinct in ‘kinds’, in a mobile and indivisible habit and effort that is constantly modified and becoming. Mobility and duration is inner reality itself. But because it is the habit of the minds to methodically divide the absolutely indivisible and think in a discontinuous series of psychological efforts, we tend to dwell on individual words by corresponding them to a discontinuous spatial substance; as if the presence or the change of our inner life needs a linguistic support to be felt and understood. But I always have to keep in mind when I use these words that these different words are merely artificial tags within sets of framework that we use to categorize degrees of differences and intensity of a vast spectrum of human experiences and sensations. That experiences and sensations are different in ‘kinds’, and are inconsistent and always changing.
By dubbing and matching a word to quantify a qualitative ‘kind’ of feeling that is always in flux, we are assuming that feelings are universal spectacles that are objective, mechanical, and could be logically represented using sequences of written symbols.
Again, people are used to assigning “fixed points” to their mobile spectrum of indivisible inner broadband to which they can attach thought and words. And by doing so, we are simply giving in and falling into the trap of linguistic rules, constraints and limitations. When people use language to quantify, objectify and categorize subjective feelings by spelling them out, they are in one way or another, undermining, distracting and subtracting from the rawness and authenticity of the private intuitive realities of the first person perspective that could hardly correspond to symbols or things in the world.
That’s why I think to take a single word “love” in order to try to communicate your feelings by lumping together all “kinds” of idiosyncratic sensations that are in states of constant flux into one big and static category is a violent, inconsistent, and inadequate gesture.