the lost man chronicles
book two: the art of love
Your Love is Like the Tallest Building (a cheeky history of love)—part one
You can tell what's informing a society by what's the tallest building in the place.
When you approach a medieval town the cathedral is the tallest thing in the place. When you approach a 17th century city, it’s the political palace that's the tallest thing in the place. And when you approach a modern city, its office buildings and dwellings that are the tallest...
And if you go to Salt Lake City you'll see the whole thing illustrated right before you. First the temple was built right in the center of the city. That's the spiritual center from which all flows in all directions. And then the capitol was built right beside the temple. It's bigger than the temple. And now, the biggest thing is the office building that takes care of the affairs of both the temple and the political building.
That's the history of Western civilization. From the gothic through the princely periods of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, through this economic world were in now.
~ The Power of the Myth, The Hero's Adventure, Joseph Campbell
Love has long guided us much like the tallest building upon the horizon.
Over the centuries, the object or our "sincerest" affections has evolved with the affective focus of our society's aspirations.
Love, like the cathedrals of Notre Dame, was once quite canonical, and for most intensive purposes, theological. In order to love, there was a certain architectural plan that one had to follow, and the love you had—had to be given up entirely to God. As the sole reserve of He who created and creates everything, the expression of love was narrow minded, and subsequently begot all kinds of limitations in the wake of its evolution. The limiting constructs included sin, the duality of good and evil, morality, the hierarchy of spirituality, the inquisition, and even the ideas of tradition, rite, ritual and righteousness themselves—all of them inherently and purportedly divinely inspired delimiters of human thought and experience.
As the spires of the ecclesiastical order abused this principle in order to subjugate the world by means of professing their manifest destiny (with guns to empower its true meaning), and as the city-state evolved alongside this imperial expansion—love too became quite political.
Everyone who was not a waif, wench, slave, serf or a minion, starting asking themselves "Whom might I hook up with to my worldly advantage?" And thus, came the foolish notions of assessing others for all their prospective worth. How will my association with him benefit me in the future (or actually, how will the betrothal of my daughter enrich me)? It was not really a matter of who we married, but rather what group we married into.
And now, with the advent of industry, as Ford's black model Ts began rolling off the assembly line at the beginning of the last century, love continued to evolve and adopt itself with the changes in our society. For it became quite pre-assembled and commercial.
Hence, now we like to ask "what are you worth to me here and now? how can I consume you? do you have an annual report you can share with me? what were your last quarter's results? Do you have a good job? DO YOU HAVE A JOB? How will you provide me with all the material luxuries I've been taught to believe I need, want and desire?
And as the global economy blossomed, so did love. And as they grew together, they began to reflect one another more and more. Until love was just like what every parent is pressured to eventually do with their kids—take them to Disney!
Emerson wrote quite sagaciously, "A person will worship something, and what you are worshipping you are becoming." Thus, it is quite facile to conjure a million and one examples of how the enterprising aspirations of love have become entrenched in the goals of enterprise. Hallmark, FTD, Godiva, Tiffany, Chanel, you know quite well what I'm talkin' 'bout. The affectations of affection are clearly objective these days.
Although, the way we love has changed recently. Because, when some of the greatest symbols of our society were leveled, so were the targets of our love.
the art of living the list