“Nothing is mysterious, no human relation. Except love.”
– Susan Sontag
Love is all around: we love our partners, our family, our pets, our possessions, ourselves; we love food, music, games, activities, knowledge, beauty. We even love love itself.
But for such an omnipresent feeling, if that’s indeed what it is, it is awfully difficult to pin down. This hasn’t stopped us trying, or perhaps it is one of the reasons why we do: 70 per cent of all songs recorded since the 1960s have been about love (followed closely by “and/or sex”, which has jumped from 18 to 40 per cent since the ‘60s) and last year 50 million romance novels were sold in the US alone, making up almost 20 per cent of all book sales.
This is hardly a modern obsession: the Ancient Greeks had no fewer than 14 love deities, from Aphrodite, the goddess of love, sex, and beauty to Peitho, the personification of persuasion and seduction. That’s more or less a love god per million, which would equate to a crowded 8,000 love deities throughout the modern world.
Despite our ongoing obsession, we seem to be no closer to deciphering the mystery than the ‘80s band Foreigner – I want to know what love is – but perhaps that’s simply because love transcends all, including words.