Tennessee Williams and His Life

In Tennessee Williams: Wounded Genius, produced, written, and directed by Paul Budline, Mr. Budline explores the tragic life of the Southern playwright. The documentary begins as one would expect — from the beginning. His father is said to have been a typical rough and rowdy Southern man, exerting his masculinity at all cost on his wife and children, and outside “loose” women. His rambunctious and intolerant ways made home life barely manageable for his family. Tennessee Williams, born Thomas Lanier Williams, would live and write about his feelings of displacement and isolation that began at childhood for the duration of his life and career.

Born in Columbus, Ohio, Tom was a shy and awkward boy. He spent much of his time with his sister Rose. When he became sick diphtheria, he was unable to be active like a normal child, thus isolating him further from his peers. With little social interactions outside of the family, consisting mostly of his sister Rose and his literate and puritanical mother, Edwina, young Tom took to reading. His love of reading grew into his love of performing what he had read to his sibling and mother. This love would grow into his love of creating his own stories. Tom’s love for telling stories would continue with him throughout his life, until his death in 1983 at the age of 71.

Paul Budline in Tennessee Williams: Wounded Genius did well to account for not only Tennessee’s family history but his tragic and wounded genius. He was a writer, and not just one whom loved the title of it. He was known to rise daily and spend large portions of the day pounding away at his typewriter. Before his fame and career really began, he was still at the mercy of his father. At the age of 21, upon the insistence of his father, Tom began work at the International Shoe Company, a company which his father held a high position. Tom deployed the work, spending his days dusting and counting shoes. In the evening, to save him from madness, he would smoke cigarettes and drink coffee while his mind and hands took to the keys of his typewriter, producing poetry, short stories, and early plays.

Tom would go to two different universities, Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Iowa. Though the details of Tom’s experience at these two universities are fascinating, the documentary did not touch much on them; however, it was during his time at Iowa that he took the name Tennessee, pinning his name as a writer to his Southern roots.

His first big hit would be after he left university, tried life and his first extended homosexual relationship in New Orleans, lived in poverty in New York, and worked as a writer Hollywood. Hollywood, however, was not for him. After having his film script for The Gentleman Caller rejected, he moved back to New York, reworking his script into a play that would be first big success, The Glass Menagerie. The play was produced in Chicago in 1944-45. His success as a playwright had begun.

His fame increased with the first few plays which followed. His life became that of a famed and successful playwright, but also of a heavy drinker. He spiralled out of control in the early 1960s after the death of his lover Frank Marlo, having to be taken to a mental health facility by his brother for alcohol and substance abuse. However, it would appear that the real killers of Tennessee were the critics. After his early success, he lived on as a famous playwright but at a failed one as well. His life did not end with the praise of his audience and critics after another successful Broadway play but with mystery and silence.

On February 25, 1983, at the Eylsee Hotel in New York, Tennessee Williams was found dead alone. In his early years, he had managed to climb out of the alienated world of his childhood, discovering his own talent for writing. He built a successful career, watched it slip away, and died by accidental choking, alone in a hotel room where he frequently had sexual encounters with admiring young men. Mr.Williams’ brother, however, is not convinced of his brother’s accidental death. He believes his death was murdered, claiming that a change in Williams’ will was about to happen. Others claim that it was a suicide, pointing to the years of alcoholism and the strained and beaten characters of his work. Whatever the case, Tennessee Williams, as portrayed by Paul Budline in Tennessee Williams: Wounded Genius, truly was a wounded genius who left a body of work that will be study, performed, and watched for generations to come.

Works Cited:

Budline, Paul, dir. Tennessee Williams: Wounded Genius. Prod. Paul Budline, and Writ. Paul Budline. 1998. Videocassette. 22 Mar 2013.

On Dr. Etienne’s Wesker Presentation

On Dr. Etienne’s Wesker Presentation

Dr. Anne Etienne’s research seminar entitled “Visions don’t work? Questioning Wesker’s work and interdisciplinary methodology” is the subject of this blog. Dr. Etienne gave a quick historical summary of the work and political involvement of the playwright Arnold Wesker. She proceeded to question whether his involvement with Center 24 (C 24) and the Roundhouse (i.e., his community involvement) affected his work as a playwright. I am uncertain whether she concluded it did or not, as her research is still in progress. Regardless, her work gave a concise summary of many of the problems Wesker faced with his audience, critics, and directors. It would appear his labels of being “an angry young man” and “grumpy old man” were and are fitting, as he was oftentimes in conflict with others in the theatre community.

One interesting area Dr. Etienne focused on was his community involvement. He wanted to create a space for young people to socialize and be involved in the arts. For him, socialism, his professed political belief, was more than economic system. It was essential to all of community life. Being a socialist meant truly being a part of the social, the community. Such involvement meant talking and engaging with others in the community, with the arts being one such form of engagement. Wesker’s involvement with the Roundhouse was his way of engaging with the arts community and those interested in the arts. In a sense, he was attempting to live by the socialist ideals which were at play in his work. However, it would appear, based on the research presented by Dr. Etienne, that his involvement in the community cost him creative productivity. During his time with the Roundhouse he wrote only a few plays.

Dr. Etienne spent a sizable amount of time discussing two of Wesker’s failed plays from the mid-sixties – Four Seasons and Golden City. It would appear that Wesker began to move away from socialism as a central theme in his plays. Having never read or seen the plays, I am not sure if my understanding is correct, but it would appear that Wesker became disillusioned with his waning political belief. These two plays were not well received by his audience or by critics. His later work in 1970, The Friends, also was not a success, a play that he originally directed himself. By the 70s he had complicated relationships with directors, believing in an author’s unquestionable control over his or her work. In other words, he was quickly becoming a grumpy old man who made it difficult for others to work with him. From Dr. Etienne’s seminar, it appears that the 70s was a decade not light and kind to Wesker, involving a long period of dark and non-commercially successful plays. This would change for him in the 80s. During this decade, Wesker created many one-act plays focusing on women. Dr. Etienne was enthusiastic about these plays. Though one cursed with a vein of misogyny, I am interested in reading these plays. Unfortunately, viewing them is not possible given their difficulty to produce. The plays were critically commended but have little commercial viability, and theatre is a commercial art form after all.

To quickly close, Dr. Etienne’s research presentation has aroused my curiosity concerning the work of Arnold Wesker. I do believe I will look for a few of his 80s one-act plays and his early work.

Isolation in Beckett’s Endgame

Beckett’s Endgame, though not adhering to a singular interpretation, does yield (if yield is the correct word) to various non-unified possible interpretations; with Beckett, the most a critic can hope to do is suss out a motif or two and move along. In this blog entry, I will explore the motif of isolation in Endgame. My intention is not to explain the play as a dramatic representation of humanity’s isolation in the world but to present merely what I have discovered after a cursory reading and examination. Perhaps this superficial examination is ideal, as the play largely expresses impressions of reality, not a concrete portrait. More concisely, the play is not a discursive treatment of the human condition, but, rather a representation of the “irrationality of the human condition” (Esslin 24).

Beginning with the stage, the Endgame use of a barren environment creates an initial sense of isolation. The room in which the play transpires is furnished with two bins, two windows, an armchair, a painting facing to the wall, and a step-latter that is brought on and off stage. Only four characters possess the stage, though two are generally hidden within bins. At rise, the bins which house Hamm’s parents and Hamm himself are enshrouded by white sheets, suggesting death which suggests timelessness. It is in this room of emptiness and death that the play begins what appears to be a routine day in the life of Hamm and Clove and Nagg and Nell.

Routine is essential to the play’s representation of time, which furthers the motif of isolation. There is a sense that the same scene has played out numerous days before the stage lights were turned on. This routine involves Clov bringing in the step-latter and peering out the two windows that offers him a minor contact with the outside world. Then, he removes the sheets covering Hagg and Nell and the one covering Hamm, meticulously folding the sheets before putting them away. It is this routine, this circular daily routine that breaks life for the characters from the movement of time that is general experienced as linear, as progressing towards an end;  but for Hamm and Clov, life circles and circles. Within this cycle of monotony, Hamm asks what the weather is like and Clov responds, “The same as usual” (Beckett 24). It is this cyclical routineness that cuts the characters off from the linear progression of time, compounding the feeling of isolation. The cycle, however, is broken by the death of Nell, which will be treated later. For now, let us move to the relationships between characters.

The way in which each character relates to one another builds on the notion that humans are inherently isolated, without  clear and direct contact with each other or the outside world.  In the case of Nagg and Nell, we have an elderly couple who have spent a lifetime together, only to be separated from each other by the walls of each other’s bin. When Nagg asks Nell to kiss him, she replies, “We can’t” (Beckett 18). More typical of a response would have been, “I can’t,” but Beckett chose, presumably for good reason, ‘We.’ Nagg responds, “Try,” but their efforts produce not contact, which compels Nell to state, “Why this farce, day after day?” (Beckett 18). In other words, why this ridiculous daily attempt to connect, because, in the end, are we not only flesh in a bin? Though a rather bleak perception, such is the relationship between those who have spent a life together. In the end, do they truly know each other? Such a play between characters would suggest no.

Regarding the relationship between Hamm and Clov, it is one of stepfather to stepson, master and servant, and disorder to order (though the last two forms of relationships are not examined presently). The stepfather to stepson relationship is established by Hamm asking Clov if he loves him, to which Clov answers, “No” (14), Clov saying that he has been trying to leave Hamm ever since he was “whelped” (17), and Hamm asking whether Clov remembers his father, to which Clov responds, “No. Too small, you told me” (29).  Though there are other instances in the play, these three instances do well to establish their relationship as stepfather to stepson.

The significance of their relationship is not to be taken as simply a literal relationship between stepfather and stepchild, in which there is distance, but of the natural distance between father and son, between man to man. Though they have spent years together, Clov is continually tied to Hamm by not knowing the “combination to the larder” (15) and his affections toward Hamm, displayed in his resistance to “finish” Hamm (29). Their relationship is one of dependence based on the exchange of knowledge and ability (Hamm knows the combination but is physically impaired, whereas Clov does not know combination but is more mobile)and affection established by familiarity, not of love; though Hamm does suggest he loves Clov, that is not the case for Clov, who loved Hamm “[o]nce” (14). In what could be the closest of relationship between two men – a relationship between a father and son – there is a great distance. There is isolation. This distance is made more apparent between biological relationships.

The relationship between Nagg and Hamm is one of biological father and son, though it is not a very pleasant one. Nagg recounts to Hamm a horrific childhood experience:

Whom did you call when you were a tiny boy, and were frightened in the dark? Your   mother? No. Me. We let you cry. Then we moved you out of earshot, so that we might sleep in peace (38).

Nagg’s speach could be read as mere cruelty by a father to a child, but such a reading would be too surface, too simplistic. Hamm’s father is not only admitting his own cruelty but that of the world. How does the world generally react to the suffering of another person? People usually move out of earshot or eyesight of those who suffer. It is the notion that we all suffer alone when we suffer. It is not to say that there is never assistance, or that there should not be assistance by others, but that we ultimately suffer alone. The relationship between a father and son is not enough to alleviate the suffering of one or the other. We suffer alone, and when we pass, sometimes there is indifference.

Hamm’s mother, Nell, dies with little concern by Hamm, but only as matter of fact. It is this coldness which Hamm has toward the passing of his own mother that is most striking of the relationship found within Endgame. Hamm asks Clov, “Go and see if she is dead,” to which Clov replies, “Looks like it” (41). Hamm shows no sign of shock towards the news but only asks, “And Nagg?, (41) to which Clov replies, “ Doesn’t look like it” (41). It is conveyed by Clov that his father is crying, to which Hamm merely moves along in his conversation with Clov. Hamm’s lack of grief towards the death of the mother and lack of sympathy towards his father shows a cold and inhumane side to Hamm, but, more importantly, it shows humanity’s regard towards one another. When the funeral procession, few pity the dead or the bereaved, but wonder when it will pass so life can continue. It is in this vain that Hamm treats his mother’s passing: what’s next?

What happens next is that the cycle is broken. No longer is the routine continued as it was. The four characters waking and existing together has been reordered to three. The death of the Nagg is the beginning of something new: “[s]omething is taking its course” (17). Though horrific as it sounds, the death of the Nell, is a reminded of life; the presence of death compels most to live. It is this reminder that ‘something is taking its course,’ that we are still alive that makes the isolation of humanity bearable. It is the hope that something will possibly happen that provides hope for the living. It is the end of the game, the breaking of the cycle where humanity is perhaps free of its isolation, or perhaps not, but it is still possible. There is still hope.

Works Cited

Beckett, Samuel. Endgame. 2nd ed. London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1964. Print.

Esslin, Martin. The Theatre of the Absurd. 2nd ed. London: Peliguin Books, 1968. Print.

Video Source: http://youtu.be/zN0oXalNQ1Q?t=29s

On Seeing Bolger’s Ulysses

An adaptation of James Joyce’s Ulysses was performed at the Everyman Palace Theatre in Cork from November 12th to the 17th. The adaptation is by Dermot Bolger and was directed by Andy Arnold. I had the good fortune to see a production of it one evening.

Dermot Bolger’s adaptation opens much differently than Joyce’s original novel. In the novel, the first episode focuses on Steve and the second episode on Bloom. In Bolger’s stage adaptation, the play begins with Molly explicitly describing her sexual interests and experience. In the original, Molly is not given the stage until the last episode of the novel. Bolger’s reason for making the changes is not certain to me, as I have never read an account by him, but of all the possible reason, two stand out.

Recent scholarship on Ulysses is increasingly focused on the role of Molly and the final episode. Though scholars and students have their varying reasons for picking the final episode and Molly as an area of study, her presence in the final episode is essential to the novel and is thoroughly inspiring in regards to Joyce’s ability to write a first-person narrative in a woman’s voice. Perhaps not all readers find this to be true, but a good many do, and that is the opinion of this writer. It is possible that Bolger’s adaptation takes into account the growing interest in the character of Molly.

Another possible reason for the change is found in the notion of narrative congruency. In the novel, it is difficult for a first-time reader to understand the novel as it progresses from the beginning to the end. A first-time needs patience and critical aids. The novel oftentimes switches sharply from a third-person narrative to internal monologue. There are cases when it is uncertain who the narrator is at all, whether he is a character or an omniscient storyteller, as in the case of episode 13 where Bloom has a sexual fantasy and climax on the beach. Does the girl actual offer herself for his own gratification or is it merely in his imagination? The latter sounds truer, considering her age and Bloom’s unlikely sexual appeal to a young woman, regardless of her own sexual appetites.

Returning to narrative form, Bolger’s play is framed by Molly’s monologues. This framing introduces Molly at the beginning of the play, thus making her appearance at the end appear more natural. For a theatre audience, though this statement is obviously far too reaching, a level of simplicity in narrative form is necessary. When watching a play, the audience needs to have some idea about the story. One cannot reread a section as in a novel. Though absolute clarity on the subtleties and complexities is not required or likely possible, the audience does need to know that there is some way of following the basic progression of the play. Of course, many postmodernist would disagree with this idea. Regardless, there is enough complexity to Bolger’s adaption without also making the basic narrative impossible to follow. I believe the framing device of Molly’s monologues does make the adaptation a stage success.

Finally, the stage design itself also helped to guide the audience through the wild and worrying events of June 16, 1904. Molly bed dominates the opening and ending of the play, but as the play moves along, the same stage becomes a Dublin pub, a whorehouse, a police station, and a derelict’s dead end. For a couple of hours, I was transported to Joyce’s Dublin. I think, in the end, that is what made the adaptation and production a successful. The play wasn’t the novel, but it was an opening, a window which allowed fresh light to enter Joyce’s imagined world. Once opened and relight, the audience was invited into the auditorium, seated comfortably in their seats and left to admire Joyce’s world, abhor it, analyse it, or simply enjoy it. The choice remained your own.

Oh, Dorian. Oh, Bartlett.

The annual Dublin Theatre Festival ended last week. Trying to get tickets in advance at the student price is essentially impossible. After a four hour bus ride from Cork, a night it a dingy hostel with the word “Paddy” in its title, and few nervous phone calls later, a friend and I  secured two tickets to The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, adapted to stage and directed by Neil Bartlett – and performed at the Abbey! We were ecstatic. Two fools had abandoned their seats to the matinée; we swooped in like proper cultural vultures.

It had been years since I have read Wilde’s novel. It is, I believe, his only novel; a quick search on Wikipedia does not clarify by passing curiosity. I was excited to see the show.

Now, simply being in the Abbey was quite an event for me. I had read that Yeats had helped open the theatre; his play and many of Synge’s were performed there. To be in the old building which once staged two Irish greats was quite impressive, and now we were to see a new adaptation of a novel originally written by a theatrical master in his time.

The notion of time kept entering my mind.

It took quite a bit of time to gets seats. We were completely uncertain throughout the night whether our trip over was a complete loss. Had we spent so much money and time to simply have to return home without seeing a play? We were frustrated.

Finally, the play began. It was astounding. The stage was simple. The portrait occupied the largest space of the stage. Various characters moved on and off stage. Each member that sang or dance in the chorus moved with remarkable precision. A theatrical machine had been switched on when we sat down and the lights dimmed. All was grand and sublime.

Lord Henry Wotton kisses Dorian Gray.

What? I didn’t remember that from the novel. I am not shocked by the suggested homosexuality. Seriously, it’s the twenty-first century! I am shocked that a nineteenth century novel has been “updated.” I wasn’t sure if it was an update at all but an artist’s interpretation that unsettled me — but why? Homophobia? That was highly doubtful.

The play moved along wonderfully. There was a technical difficulty with the portrait at the end when Dorian tried to walk through, thus appearing as his actual age. My companion and I thoroughly enjoyed the entire production. I would see it again, but there was that one moment that left me unsure. It was a minor hiccup of the play, so it did not enter my mind much at all until some part of my brain worked out what bothered me about the whole event: art and artist.

The decision to have Lord Henry Wotton kiss Dorian Gray was the adapter trying to mix Oscar Wilde, the creator, with the characters of the novel, his creation. The assumption was that Wilde would have done so if the times he lived in weren’t so hostile to his lifestyle. There is no way of knowing that. To say that an artist is his or her art would be absurd. An artist creates. The creation is not necessarily a reflection of his or her tastes or orientation.

Whether Wilde would approve the adaptation is irrelevant. What I found interesting about the adaptation was that Wilde’s own life was inserted into his work of fiction by a person who was being socially and politically correct for his time.

Time again.

I just wonder if Wilde’s story about the unwillingness of a person to age had anything to do with Wilde’s sexual orientation, or is it just a needless distraction from the story. Did Wilde’s time prevent him from including his sexuality in the novel or was it a decision made by him as an artist? I am all for respecting a person as they are and how they were born. I suppose I feel the same way about art – or at least enough to write a blog about it.

Please Remain Standing

After reading Marx and Engels’ Manifesto of the Communist Party, it became blatantly clear that the modern world’s tale is one of an historical struggle between two economic groups: the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. Nothing is more apparent than the need to reduce the complexity of man’s drive to survive – to live and thrive – to nothing more than two forces trying to dominant each other. The unnecessary quibbles over which force should win (because there is no other option but to win) is obvious when you realize one particular group – the proletariat – offers more to the economy that the other – the bourgeoisie. This remarkably simple division based essentially on the economic utility of one particular group of people does not have to stop with the human race. No, I have found there are numerous groups which would benefit from being reduced to utility; however, as my space is limited, I will focus on just one: furniture.

Furniture is notoriously underrepresented by our sapient-centricgenus. For example, a piece of furniture is often thought not to be a true member of our society but a mere possession, property to be used and discarded on a whim. But is not that the same treatment the proletariat has experienced for centuries? To answer the question simply: yes; though, the injustice concerning furniture’s mistreatment has existed long before the birth of the bourgeoisie — and continues to this very day! Please imagine the following typical day in the life of furniture:

In the morning, a man rises from his aged and sunken bed, walks into the kitchen where a woman is making him breakfast, he feels inclined to sit on a chair, so he does, resting his arms on the table – the same table which bears the weight of his breakfast plate and a vase holding pretty flowers; the woman greatly enjoys the pretty flowers, as her ways are simple. Now, I put it to the reader to notice what is obviously wrong with this morning scene. What should be obvious is that throughout this typical morning the man took no notice of the furniture, did not appreciate the furniture but only expected it to be there. Perhaps the woman did the same, but it would be inappropriate to make assumptions and generalizations about women.

I.  Useful and Luxurious

The absentminded abuse of furniture has continued for centuries. An unvoiced mass of wood, metal, stone, and plastic howls as the fat and prosperous elite humans use them as they so feel fit. You may ask: what can be done? The answer is simple: divide. We must stop the unnecessary abuse of the many by splitting a single group into two parts: the Useful and the Luxurious. The Useful are the wooden chairs in your kitchen, the old and worn coffee tables which act more as a foot rests, and the dinged and lacquer-less dining room tables. The Luxurious are the mini-tables placed around a room to place pictures and knickknacks, the couches which hold a sea of colorful pillows with nowhere to sit, and the antique desks which serves no other purpose than to remain immobile and age. Once the outwardly useful are divided from the outwardly useless, the appropriation of the home’s land or real estate can begin; the Useful can take their rightful place as the rulers of the domicile.

[Part II bits using logical arguments omitted]

III. Useful and Reuse

Questions immediately come to mind: what is to be done with the Luxurious pieces of furniture? Are they to be evicted from the rooms they once ruled? Can they be allowed to stay if they conform? The answer is clear: they must be stripped of all their unnecessary adornments and be forced to serve utility. The mini-tables must be brushed clear of pictures of love-ones and knickknacks, the couches drained of their swimming, colorful pillows, and the antique desk, which receives more polish than play, must finally be used. All those who do not conform to the new model of usefulness will be made to conform. The mini-tables will be taken into the backyard and chopped into firewood. The antique desk will be left to dry and crack in the sun until it is time to free its timber for the fire. The rebellious couch will be forced to suffer alone in the driveway, in the cold, waiting for the trash man to carry its nonconformist, non-gendered self to the dump of uselessness.

[Part IV additional compelling, logical arguments omitted]

V.  Position of the Useful in Relation to the Various Existing and More Probable Solutions

There may be objections to the division and eventual slaughter of useless furniture. The objections presumably come from those who sympathize with the Luxurious. As I do not own luxurious furniture, I do not suffer from any fits of compassion or maladies of logic. Others must be made to experience life in the same way.

The revolution starts now.

FUNITURE OF THE WORLD, DIVIDE!

Work Cited:

Marx, Karl, and Frederick
Engels. “Manifesto of the Communust Party.” Marxist Internet
Archive
. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Oct 2012.
<www.marxistsfr.org/archive/marx/works/download/manifest.pdf

Photo Source:

http://www.homegoodlooking.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Furniture2.jpg

Thoughts Following a Discusscion on Nietzsche’s essay “On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life”

In the first week of the term, we have examined Nietzsche’s essay “On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life.” As the title informs, Nietzsche discusses the pros and cons of how one interprets history. The intent of this blog entry, and future entries, is not to discuss a particular piece in great detail, but to use course material to stimulate creative thought inspired by course material. In other words, this is a time to write loose thoughts and organize them at a later date.

Returning to Nietzsche, however, his caution regarding how we examine history is at the forefront (if I’m allowed such a clichéd term) of the modernist movement (here again). He stood in opposition (here as well) to the mechanicalism of his time. So as to avoid strictly regurgitating Professor Davis’ lecture, I will say this: Nietzsche diverges from the lean Apollonian dry reason of Kant and Schopenhauer. With this break, the more emotional or Dionysian mode of interacting with history is reintroduced or restructured from the Greeks. Now, this Dionysian mode of emotion-based historical interaction is what I’d like to use to springboard to one of my before mentioned loose ideas.

There seems within North American culture, despite the efforts of those like Nietzsche who advocated for a more critical understanding of history — and consequently life, a purveyance of not reason but mythos in the form of science-myth. This science-myth encourages men and women to believe that all questions posed to themselves or to others have a scientific answer or will within time; withholding a deeper discussion on the importance of the word time, I will continue with science as the answer-all to man’s (and the implied woman’s) queries.

The acceptance of a box containing all the wise words (that would be a figurative box containing scientific explanations for everything) comes with the mandate of a strictly material view of our world. Some who have accepted this strictly material view have gone to the point of reducing man’s greatest capacity (again, the implied woman), namely, love, to a mere exchange of chemical impulses. This is, of course, absurd, and left to the reader to sort out for himself (the same applies here as well).  For those who already accept that love is more than mere chemical impulses are ask to follow on with me. For those still sceptical, I will give a most likely unsatisfying explanation further down.

Now, as the act of loving someone or something has been attempted to be described by poets, dramatis, philosophers, the pious, and many greater and lesser minds alike for the best part of known history, it does not suit the science-mythic mind well to pretend to have solved it (– it’s only chemicals!) To have reduced something like love to a material order demonstrates the saturation level of the current materialist perspective.

Perhaps love is too subjective a term – too broad in possible definitions. Fair – let’s consider something as simple as beauty or aesthetics; there is actual nothing simple about beauty – and that’s the point. The reductionism required within a science cannot fully capture the vast boundlessness of the notion of beauty or love. Granted, one must make an attempt, but the idea that either love or beauty is simply a phenomenon which can be measured like one measures yearly rainfall is laughable at best. It would be, as my friend Geoffrey Meadows would call, referring to Aristotle, a categorical error; you can’t quantify a qualitative value. That is why the poets and arts alike have spent centuries attempting to capture the emotional sense (qualitative value) of the act of loving. A science may be able to define and measure the various parts of the brain in which the act of loving is shown to occur or the chemicals which are released during such an act, but to make the effect (the chemical reaction) the source or cause of love is a bit nutty. That is like saying a sunset is beautiful because of dopamine, rather than beauty causing the release of dopamine, thus causing the physical sensation of pleasure. It is the other – that which is not the chemicals in the mind – which causes one to experience beauty or love.

Much more could be said and refuted, but I will leave it there for today.