But now shrinks the place where you stand: Where now, stripped by shade, will you go? — Paul Celan

Love and Time

Sparky in Paradise. Image copyright: Tibra Ali.

More time is not more eternity. — Juan Ramón Jiménez

What if someone or something exists only for a short interval of time? Would you be able to love them? Derek Walcott, in his essay The Antilles: Fragments of Epic Memory, says that while many travellers purport to love the Caribbean in truth they don’t. For if they truly loved the place, he argues, they’d move and stay there.

Love requires time to develop. Love is the only sacred emotion left to us. And the sacred cannot be abstract. It requires one to get to know the object of one’s love intimately. You love the particularity of that object — that is the opposite of abstraction. You can’t love a human, an animal, or a place the way you love the a certain place looks on your vacation.

[Love ennobles the profane and elevates it to the sacred.]

If love requires time to develop, it is also true that time is a test of love. For if you love someone or a place, you will continue to love them even after they are long gone. In this world shrouded in the mist of forgetfulness, love is the truest form of memory. It remembers the essence of the person or thing that has been lost. As I have said elsewhere, love is the second eternity.

Borrowing from Milan Kundera one can say, love saves the memory of our beloved from kitsch. (‘Kitsch is the stopover between being and oblivion’, writes Kundera in his novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being.)

But the other time, physical time, the first eternity, leaves behind those you loved (and still love) and lost. It leaves them behind even when governments erect statues and proclaim holidays in their memory. For the fanfare of celebration of the beloved is but the loudest forgetting of all. It is the loss of the individual under the tombstone of a symbol.

But love is a different kind of time. It is the personal time that contradicts the loud utterances of the fake love that Time proclaims.

Love is the secret and personal time in which perdures the true nature of things.

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