Love at First Sight

By Tim Butler | Posted at 11:59 PM

My good friend and misguided political pundit Jason used a song from Brandy in his Facebook status yesterday. It was a quip about the impossibility of falling in love overnight. I got a little carried away as part of my response, so I thought I'd use it as a blog post for your concern or amusement.

Objection 1. It seems that love at first sight, or at least the close proximation thereof, is not possible. For love is too deep a thing to occur so quickly.

Objection 2. It should be noted that if the thing were not impossible, past occurrences would at least suggest it unwise.

On the contrary, the thing seems quite possible and is retold throughout literature, for example, Dante's love of Beatrice and the many cases of love (often crossed with mistaken identity) in the works of Shakespeare. These cases resonate with humanity, and only that which is “the mirror up to nature,” as Hamlet says, resonate with the soul.

I answer that the objections confuse the thing's accidents with its substance. That love is complex and deep need not be tied to a particular time frame always, even if it is frequently. Neither should its most close resemblance to its ideal form be taken to imply that it cannot occur less ideally in its material realization.

And, we may add that what wisdom is with concern to this matter is difficult to discern. If it were Romeo's fate to fall in love with Juliet, was it unwise merely because it led to their mutual demise? Or was it ultimately wise since it was in accord with fate? Perhaps Romeo would have killed himself later out of depression when Juliet was betrothed to another had he not fallen in love overnight but rather more slowly. Would there have been a net gain in happiness then? Likely not, for maybe Juliet would have secretly remained an admirer of Romeo and hence would kill herself too. In any case, unrequited love would have unnecessarily been involved then, as both Romeo and Juliet would have mistaken the views of the other, heaping further sadness upon their souls before their untimely deaths. But having already married someone else, Juliet would now lead to two broken hearts rather than one.

Moreover, though the ideal form may take time to develop, the ideal form is not actually achieved even over long periods of time for, as it is written, a curse exists upon love (Gen. 3.16). Therefore, if one only considers romantic love by its ideal form, then it does not exist in the present human condition. But even the objector does not accept this premise, which is indeed flawed.

Reply to Objection 1. As we have seen, this is based upon a confusion of form with its material realization.

Reply to Objection 2. Likewise it has been shown that the wisdom of the occurence is none too easily judged. To assume the accident of unwise decision is the essence of love at first sight is a matter of confusion. It may be proverbially true, but should be taken as something to which possible exceptions can occur.

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