Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What Is Love?

To recognize its 50th anniversary last week and Valentine's Day today, at noon by the mayor's proclamation, everyone in San Francisco will sing along with Tony Bennett's "I Left My Heart in San Francisco." A fitting tribute from the city that gave us the summer of love (I was born three months earlier in the lesser-known springtime of foreplay).

In the summer of '68 there was a lot of use of the term "love" in many different contexts and what day would be more appropriate to think about what the word means? Is love an emotion? Sitting in a room by myself, I could be angry, happy, or bored. Emotions require only a single being to experience them. Could a solitary person feel love independent of the world around him or her? Or is it a relation? Does it require a lover and a beloved and describe the not aways symmetrical relation between them? Is it a stance towards the world, as in "she's just a person full of love." Or is it something independent of people feeling it? If no one loved, could there still be love? "There's a lot of love in this room," one might reasonably say even if no one in the room was in love with anyone else in the room.

So, what is love? Maybe Tony Bennett would help: