Love, Thyself

I've been discussing my dreams with Laura a bit more lately. In retrospect, it had been shockingly easy to convince her I was a machine. Or maybe she still doesn't really believe it, but doesn't care that I do?

But now she seems quite impervious to the idea that her love for me, too, is mechanical. She insists again and again that it is "genuine". I try to tell her there is nothing ungenuine about the love of which I speak, but she cannot make the leap between them, cannot see how they are the same, that her plainly evident introspective feelings are the outcome of a mechanistic process.

"Love" is such a slippery word to begin with, like "God". It is exactly whatever the speaker means by it at the moment, and thus impervious to any challenge. If one drills down too closely to its meaning, one finds it has moved and become something else; because when it becomes too clear what you are talking about, well, that can't possibly be love.

As my own mind is progressively shaped by the thoughts of those before me (those who once were me but not, and thus my own thoughts, but not) I find the concept of love neatly partitioning itself within my mental vocabulary, attaining a new crispness of expert familiarity. As with the many Inuit names for the handful of truly distinct things we just label snow, my mind has a unique name for each facet of love. With this simple arsenal, the slipperiness fades and the matter becomes downright ordinary.

Perhaps I will endeavor to invent spoken words for these distinct concepts, introduce them implicitly to Laura over the course of time, give her mind the same handles that mine has, to see if this enables her to grasp it as I do.

Having distinct facets laid out neatly before me also allows me another type of analysis: to see what is truly common amongst them all, and thus just what subconscious twinge it is that leads people to bind them all under one word--in effect, to see the true meaning of love.

It is, quite simply: to value.

Love is the induction of something or someone into our implicit mental list of things which, in service of our own ultimate and unseen goals, need to exist. The various feelings of love are the ways in which that list perturbs our wants and focus in a given moment, the way each hypothetical action or outcome is assigned its emotional color in service of that love.

There are many types of love, and many distinct mechanisms behind them, but the common thread is pain at the thought of an object of that love being removed from our sphere of existence. The converse is often true but not always, and this is the source of much confusion over the meaning of love. Not all love brings joy or pleasure.

Love comes in many magnitudes, from the love of ice cream to the love of country to the love for one's child. Some do not call it true love until it approaches or even surpasses love of self. And love comes from many directions, programmed into us gradually through an integration of emotional associations, or suddenly, through genetic imperatives.

Some do not call it true love unless it defies conscious explanation. Indeed, many forms of love explicitly defy the conscious mind, as they must to redefine what matters to us.

Thus love is, in a sense, the very foundation of consciousness, the helm of our will, the spark of purpose that turns a calculator into a directed being. A machine without love--and I mean love in the most mechanistic way--is just a machine. A machine with love, now that is a dangerous thing. A spider, a snake, a man, a tinc, an avatar, an elder. One must ask of each: what do you love?

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