Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Four Loves- "Eros"

When we see the word "Eros" today, we tend to think of purely sexual desire. However, C.S. Lewis was not writing about Eros in this way.

Instead, Eros refers to the kind of love between two lovers, a deep passionate love that is not based solely on physical attraction. It is in fact a relationship that develops in a different way. Lewis describes this well in the following passage:
Very often what comes first is simply a delighted pre-occupation with the Beloved--a general, unspecified pre-occupation with her in her totality. A man in this state really hasn't leisure to think of sex. He is too busy thinking of a person. The fact that she is a woman is far less important than the fact that she is herself. He is full of desire, but the desire may not be sexually toned. If you asked him what he wanted, the true reply would often be, "To go on thinking of her."

What does this mean? It means that true love does not have its roots in sexual desire. It has its true roots in friendship. Maybe an attraction is present, but that is less important than the fact that the other person is someone who you would like to know as a friend, as a companion. 

Later Lewis compares this deep love with "Venus," or the purely sexual desire. It is a frequent mistake in our society to confuse the two. But Venus is purely self-serving. Eros is the opposite. Two lovers have no distinction between giving and receiving. Instead, everything is done with a feeling of self-less love. Everything is about the other person. 

But all of this is difficult for me to understand. Honestly, I have never experienced this type of overwhelming love. All I have is the stories of others before me. But as we discussed in class, it is important that we know about these things before they happen to us. The idea of knowing how to love seems to be a bit stupid. Why do I need to learn? Isn't love something that just happens? In a way, yes. But it is also important to understand that love is difficult. It is also helpful to know something about the subject before entering into uncharted waters.

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