fun with math https://t.co/Ftyw7ZNZ3H (3 days ago)

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Feb
14

no shoulders to stand on

I’m reading a very interesting book, Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, and it got me to thinking. I realize that usually causes most readers to shudder and brace themselves for an onslaught of stupid, a reaction I completely understand, but in this case, given the Valentine’s Day hoopla, it might actually be relevant.

So what was I thinking?

I was thinking that when it comes to math and science and technology and medicine and almost every other endeavor people undertake to further our understanding of the world around us we have people who came before us setting the table. Doing some of the leg work. The expression “standing on the shoulders of giants” comes to mind.

Not love.

Sure, there are plenty of people who have written books and plays and music on the topic but nobody has ever made any progress on understanding it. There are no shoulders to stand on.

Astronomy? Of course, shoulders a plenty. Ass-deep in shoulders (a true statement and yet anatomically confusing). At one time we thought the Earth was flat and sat at the center of the universe. Now we know, through hard work and perverseness, albeit to a limited degree, what’s going on in outer space.

Love? Not so much. Our Earth is still very very (very) flat.

I’m not discounting the insights that poets and painters have contributed to the conversation, or disrespecting the suffering they endured as they researched the the subject matter, I’m just pointing out that it really didn’t do much except encourage us to find that special person or comfort us that we’re certainly not alone when heartbreak comes calling.

In the spirit of the holiday I guess I could take a stab; Love  is a lot like when you hear a great song from a musician you’ve never heard of and you play it over and over again but never listen to anything else they did because you’re afraid it might not be as good.

Nope. A mundane observation at best. I guess nobody will be standing on these shoulders.

Psychology? Psychiatry? Any help there?

Don’t make me laugh. They might have made inroads into subconscious motivations and why we feel the need to put on our mother’s underwear after a particularly stressful day but it’s as clueless as that annoying fourteen year old with the guitar who wants to inflict their new song “I Miss You Baby” on you when it comes to romance. If you plan on going to a shrink about your relationship troubles make sure to ask them how many times they have been divorced or why they feel the need to dress up like a pirate and whip the living shit out of some masked partner every Saturday night.

Perhaps the only constant in human existence is that men and women fall in love and how it turns out, even if you’re an optimist, is a complete crapshoot.

There is no E = MC2 on the horizon for young lovers.

And if you’re going to tell me with a straight face that alcoholism and gambling addictions are diseases you’d better be ready to add ‘hopeless romantic’ to that list. I remember reading Starship Titanic (by the incomparable Terry Jones) and nodding my head knowingly when the alien guy falls in love with the Earth woman and everyone he knows feels such compassion for him and hopes he gets over it quickly.

But it really wasn’t my intention to poop on love for Valentine’s Day.

Quite the opposite.

It’s awesome that there’s something lurking out there that we don’t understand. Something that can pop up unexpectedly and turn things upside down. Something that will quite possibly be the last thing that artificial intelligence can get a grasp of.

I’m not sure that everyone has been in love. Some people talk about it casually and it just makes me think that they’ve never been on the receiving end of a healthy dose of the stuff. I’ve never heard anyone talk casually about a hurricane that has been at the center of one.

It transcends logic and laughs at our evolutionary imperatives. It swirls like a pack of butterflies around our heads, with brief stops at our stomach and chest area, and leaks out at every opportunity to cause us joy and/or humiliation. It ignores reflection and refraction and other tedious laws of physics and instead grabs all the light in the room and sticks it on the girl or boy you can’t help but pay attention to. It makes us want to be strong and it makes us comfortable with being weak. It makes you admit to yourself that you miss someone when all you want is to forget them.

And that fucking flutter in your stomach when you remember their laugh…

I know, I know…. all of this has been said for thousands of years by much better writers.

I desperately wanted to end this with a quote from Douglas Adams but he was way too smart to have something intelligent to say on the topic. Instead I will quote three brilliant scholars, Edward Jr. Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Brian Holland, who were able to capture most of the pertinent information regarding the emotion in their seminal work Sugar Pie Honey Bunch;

 

Sugar pie, honey bunch
You know that I love you
I can’t help myself
I love you and nobody else
In and out my life
You come and you go
Leaving just your picture behind
And I kissed it a thousand times
When you snap your finger or wink your eye
I come a-running to you
I’m tied to your apron strings
And there’s nothing that I can do
I can’t help myself
No, I can’t help myself
Sugar pie, honey bunch
I’m weaker than a man should be
I can’t help myself
I’m a fool in love, you see
Want to tell you I don’t love you
Tell you that we’re through
And I’ve tried
But every time I see your face
I get all choked up inside
When I call your name
Girl, it starts the flame
(Burning in my heart
Tearing it all apart)
No matter how I try
My love I cannot hide
‘Cause sugar pie, honey bunch
You know that I’m weak for you
I can’t help myself
I love you and nobody else
Sugar pie, honey bunch
Do anything you ask me to
I can’t help myself
I want you and nobody else
Sugar pie, honey bunch
You know that I love you
I can’t help myself
I love you and nobody else

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