Media portrays love as being almost exclusively a sexual idea; in almost every movie the “hero” falls in “love” and we inevitably get a sex scene. (This is also a line of contention with me, since I feel it does nothing for character development or plot. A friend of mine argues that every movie should have a sex scene because it shows real human emotion...)
People even have a difficult time differentiating between love and sex. I recall a girl in high-school who absolutely believed that you couldn't have any kind of love without sex. When I asked her “Do you love your father” she answered “yes”. Then I asked her if she had sex with him. She was shocked, as I hoped she was. Love and sex are very different things, and everyone should know this. If they aren't, then nun's are the vilest of evil creatures, and prostitutes are still wrong for selling something that babies die without.*
There are different forms of love, but most often when we say it (when talking about food or an inanimate object), we misuse it.
Psychology explains love as a form of phenomenon comprised of three different components: intimacy, commitment and passion.
Intimacy in this instance, is when two people share confidences, secrets and personal details about themselves. Usually in an arena of friendship, but also in more amorous or romantic relationships.
Conversely, commitment is the idea that the relationship is permanent. The last and most common interpretation is sexual attraction and passion. (Passionate love is shown in infatuation as well as romantic love).
All forms of love are viewed as having varying degrees of these components. Liking only has intimacy – infatuation only has passion – empty love only contains commitment, etcetera etcetera.
Love for me is twofold. It is not simply a feeling, but also an action.
Psychologist Erich Fromm maintained in his book The Art of Loving that “love is not merely a feeling but is also actions, and that in fact, the "feeling" of love is superficial in comparison to ones commitment to love via a series of loving actions over time”. In this sense, Fromm held that “love is ultimately not a feeling at all, but rather is a commitment to, and adherence to, loving actions towards another, ones self, or many others, over a sustained duration”. Fromm also described Love as a “conscious choice that in its early stages might originate as an involuntary feeling, but which then later no longer depends on those feelings, but rather depends only on conscious commitment.”
These ideas came as I was writing my latest book: I have two characters that are not really affected by the physical world, and I want them to fall in love. How would this love express itself? Would it be like those marriages where one is a paraplegic?
What do you think of romantic love without sex?
Writing a romance novel involving a robot is slightly more difficult than I thought. Not really for the romantic side, as much as the explanation of said story without sounding ridiculous.
On the plus side, there have been attempts to make romantic movies involving robots/A.I. (Bicentennial Man, Mr. Right, Demon Seed), usually with comedic or sinister results. The negative side of these in my opinion was how it made me go from "robots could be treated as humans" to "If this is what sentient robots are like kill em all". Yes, even Bicentennial man (especially in the novel. "He" was annoying).
What I'm also wrestling with is the convention of love stripped of scientific skepticism; love can often be boiled down to a reaction of pheromones, a chemical reaction in the brain, or hysterically portrayed as a virus in Red Dwarf. With the involvement of characters that do not "suffer" from these human foibles, I am sparring with cliched romanticism such as love at first sight.
Love at first sight could be possible in an artificial sentient being, almost more so than a biological being. For instance, there is no imperative for reproduction, so the resulting sexual union or baser instincts couldn't be later rationalized as love, or equally dismissed as love. Aside from polymers or motor oil, scent is a mitigated factor. All the things that cause a human to feel that they are in love physically is stripped away, and a more emotional, cerebral love is created.
In this way the story that I'm proposing could be a more "real" idea of romantic love than what we see on film. Or a rationalization of the love story we've seen, placed into an extra-ordinary circumstance to make it more believable.
Then there falls the idea of a being stripped of physical sensory input may not be even capable of love. We know this is not the case for humans, since sociopaths cannot feel love but they can feel physical pain, can smell, etc.
Love must be something else. Hopefully I explore and exemplify the virtue of love in the new novel I'm working on.
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