Sunday, February 23, 2003

The other important thing about Grammar and "love"

When one means "I have love for you" (instead of "I love you"), the indirect object of that love stays indirect. The "love" only exists by reference to the lover. In other words, though it also refers to another, that other is important only insofar as it allows the lover to think he is bigger than himself. "Daisy" in the Great Gatsby is the best known exemplar of this sort of love. Her real existence actually interferes with Gatsby's self-referential having of love for her.

On the other hand, active loving that takes a direct object modifies the object, and exists even after the lover stops. It is love whose self-referential nature is limited only to the fact that the lover must act at least once. Having acted, the action's effects continue independent of the lover, and the other is forever marked.

Not surprisingly, this is the kind of love we are called to. It is the love that pulls us out of ourselves, and even causes us to be in one sense irrelevant. But the Christian paradox continues, because in transcending ourselves, by literally going outside ourselves, we guarantee at least a part of us--the love--a kind of immortality. If our love alters someone in even the tiniest way, the ripples of that continue into the future forever.


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