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Love's Idolatry


For the sleek black cat


"The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return."
The Song "Nature Boy"


What does it mean to truly love someone?

Can love even be talked about or learned or known to begin with?

For 'to love' easily means to be loved. Hoping to be and being loved in return is just about tantamount to loving the Other -- the other side of love's token or coin. For what kind of love is this if it passess through a 'one-way street;' when it sacrifices its self to an idol on a pedestal which does not gaze back (it never can), does not see the lover (it never could) and refuses to receive the gifts or offerings the lover bestows on its feet (it never will)?

The idolatry of love: looking at and loving that which does not receive one's gaze and love; or more so, being unable to re-flect light (like a mirror) for the lover to at least experience being seen as well as to finally be loved as well.

Yet is the idolatry of love -- the inability of the idol to not see and love in return -- the fault of the beautiful yet hollow idol? Can one blame the frozen statue for not being able to see with its eyes cast in stone, to walk by the side of the lover with its long legs and feet cemented together and planted to the ground?

Love's idol can only reflect the lover's self-love; it can only give back what the lover bestowed upon it; it can only mean something, anything as much as the meaning that was imparted to it. Its eyes could not see for they are not eyes, its legs could not move for they are not legs. True, they seemed to me true eyes and legs; yet the idol never presented itself to be true, never willed to be alive for it never could will at all. I thought it could see me and walk by my side because I willed it or wished that it could do something that it never could to begin with.

I thought it could love in return because I willed that it could. But stones and wood remain the stones and wood that they are. They are but they can never be; love is but it could never love, that is, love in return.

Thus the idolatry of love does not begin with the idol who does not see; love's foolishness begins with the I who thought and wished that the stone love me, that the wood embrace me. Love's idol is the terminus, love's final and crucial end point; but it begins with the lover who may perhaps have loved the idol -- giving it sight, wishing that it could walk with him, bestowing upon it the free gift of the self -- for the simple but self-ish reason that it, the lover, be also loved in return.

The origin of the idolatry of love: self-love's idolatry of its self.

(This perhaps why Pinochio was made.)

I loved my self in wishing that the idol love me as well; and when it could not love back (how could it?), the idol finally shows what 'all that loving' was all about: like a shattered mirror, it reflects the pieces of the self that was given because it could never carry as to buttress the weight of a freely given and whole self even when it was a piece of stone to begin with.

The shattered self: shattered because given whole to an idol which could not even open its arms to receive.

Why did I not see?

This is why "the greatest thing you'll ever know is just to love" not the idol (the cat, the statue, the tree) nor the I but the wholly Other upon whose arrival and return finally sees me.




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