Column Opinion

Still On The Issue Of Love

By Hassan Gimba

Now that we’ve found love, what are we gonna do with it? – The O’Jays.

While the title of this work might have been spurred by the above verse from The O’Jays R&B group’s 1973 hit, the title of the year 2000 film, Finding Forrester, was an inspiration.

Finding Forrester, an American drama written by Mike Rich and directed by Gus Van Sant, featured a black teenager, Jamal Wallace (Rob Brown), who was invited to attend a prestigious private high school. By chance, Jamal befriends a reclusive writer, William Forrester (Sean Connery), through whom he refined his talent for writing and came to terms with his identity.

The main message of the film is that Forrester learned the very valuable lesson of friendship. This was a movie that was filled with underlying messages. Its significance was to inspire people not only to write but to follow their heart. Also, it teaches the power and meaning of friendship.

Through the ages, people have tried to understand or define love. None more than in mythologies and writings of the greats of old. Here we look at two all-time great thinkers and writers. Homer and Shakespeare.

Homer, born in 8th Century BC, was a Greek poet and legendary author to whom the authorship of the Iliad and the Odyssey (the two epic poems that are the foundational works of ancient Greek literature) is attributed. He is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential authors of all time. In Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, Virgil refers to him as “Poet sovereign”, King of all poets; in the preface to his translation of the Iliad, Alexander Pope acknowledges that Homer has always been considered the “greatest of poets”.

William Shakespeare (26 April, 1564 – 23 April, 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist who is often called England’s national poet and the “Bard of Avon” (or simply “the Bard”). His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. He remains arguably the most influential writer in the English language, and his works continue to be studied and reinterpreted.

The power behind that four-letter word – love – has caused wars and destruction. This was succinctly captured in the historical fictional film, Troy. Troy, an ancient city located in Hisarlik in present-day Turkey, about 6 kilometres east of the Aegean Sea, is known as the setting for the Greek myth of the Trojan War.

Based on the epic poem, “The Iliad” by Homer, Troy portrays the battle between the ancient kingdoms of Troy and Sparta and the ultimate destruction of the former and the killing of its warrior prince, Hector, all because of love gained and love lost.

While visiting the Spartan King Menelaus, Trojan prince Paris falls for Menelaus’ wife, Helen, and takes her back to Troy. Menelaus’ brother, King Agamemnon, having already defeated every army in Greece, uses his brother’s fury as a pretext to declare war against Troy, the last kingdom preventing his control over the Aegean Sea.

While here we see people killing and destroying others in the name of love, elsewhere it is people killing themselves for it. The Shakespearean play, Romeo and Juliet, is a typical example here, and today, the title characters are regarded as model young lovers. The plot is based on an Italian tale translated into verse as “The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet” by Arthur Brooke in 1562 and retold in prose in Palace of Pleasure by William Painter in 1567.

But what is love that makes the heart of the lover beat? Scientifically, though, centuries-old beliefs that love occurs in our hearts have been shattered. Science says it happens in our brains when we release hormones and so it’s all about oxytocin, dopamine, adrenaline, testosterone, estrogen and vasopressin. They create a mix of feelings to do with euphoria, pleasure, or bonding, so they say.

Even though love can take one unawares or overpower one, one thing with love is that it is a choice. A choice and a decision. Ultimately, it means one’s actions can determine if it lives on or ends. It is like building a house, putting block upon block deliberately.

Romantic love, which has four stages, can last a lifetime according to Helen Fisher, neuroscientist and Senior Research Fellow at the Kinsey Institute, and Lucy Brown, Clinical Professor in Neurology at Einstein College of Medicine in New York, who for several decades have been studying the brain activity of people in love, from the early to the later stages.

They categorised these stages into four: The Euphoric Stage is explained as “In the early part of a relationship —the falling-in- love stage—the other person is the centre of your life. You forgive everything in these early stages. The other person has faults, and you see them, but it doesn’t matter.”

Then the Early Attachment Stage. If the previous stage of euphoric love is likened to an effect on the brain as taking cocaine because of the high levels of dopamine which causes intense pleasure, in this stage the more evolved part of the brain begins to take over, including the ventral pallidum (the region of the brain linked with feelings of attachment, and the attachment hormones, vasopressin, and oxytocin—sometimes referred to as “the love hormone”).

The duo said, “You know when you’ve reached the early attachment stage when you can sleep! You’re not thinking about your partner 24 hours a day. It’s easier to do other things in your life.”

Next is the Crisis Stage. It is referred to as the make-or-break point for relationships. What happens at this stage is crucial to what comes next. They refer to this as the “seven-year or five-year itch.” “Almost every relationship has a drift-apart phase,” says Brown. “Either you will keep drifting, or you will come back together. You need a crisis to get through and to be able to talk about it together—you’ve both grown and changed.”

For some couples, having children will either solidify the relationship or cause enough stress to make the relationship fall apart. If a couple can overcome the crisis, they will then move on to the final stage.

The deep attachment stage is the “calm after the storm”, according to their study. By this point, the couple know each other well. They’ve been through the inevitable ups and downs; they know that they can deal with crises, and they’ve likely made a plan for handling future crises.

The deep attachment stage can last a long time. If you’re lucky, it can last a lifetime. It is where the couple feel they cannot do without the other – and in some instances, they may begin to think, even look, alike.

But all these are talking about human love that is in need. The man as well as the woman in love desires to be loved back as well. Love is only beautiful when it is a two-way affair, instead of a one-way traffic. Unrequited love has led to disastrous outcomes.

The other love is the one called pure love. Perhaps in the beginning one loves for a reward, but in the end, love is for its sake. It is a love that loves for the sake of loving and dissolves boundaries and separation. And that’s the love for God.

Hassan Gimba is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Neptune Prime, Email: agimbah01@gmail.com

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