Can You Simulate Love with Drugs? Love is a lot of things, but when you strip all the poetry and highfalutin ideas away from it, it's just a chemical reaction in your brain and limbic system.
So it stands to reason there must be a way to approximate that feeling by putting chemicals in your brain and limbic system, right? And if love is attainable through some combination of drugs, is there any way for an average person—i.e. me—to figure that combination out? Vladimir Nabokov’s Passionate Love Letters to Véra and His Affectionate Bestiary of Nicknames for Her. By Maria Popova “You are the only person I can talk with about the shade of a cloud, about the song of a thought…” Long before Vladimir Nabokov became a sage of literature, Russia’s most prominent literary émigré, and a man of widely revered strong opinions, the most important event of his life took place: 24-year-old Vladimir met 21-year-old Véra.
She would come to be not only his great love and wife for the remaining half century of his life, but also one of creative history’s greatest sidekicks by acting as Nabokov’s editor, assistant, administrator, agent, archivist, chauffeur, researcher, stenographer in four languages, and even his bodyguard, famously carrying a small pistol in her purse to protect her husband from assassination after he became America’s most famous and most scandalous living author. The Greatest Definition of Love. By Maria Popova “Knowledge of each other, not of the flesh but through the flesh, knowledge of self, the real him, the real her, in extremis, the mask slipped from the face…” Literary history is as strewn with colorful attempts to define love — including some particularly memorable ones — as modern psychology is with attempts to dissect its inner workings.
But perhaps the most powerful and profoundly human definition I’ve ever encountered comes from Czech-born British playwright Tom Stoppard’s 1982 play The Real Thing (public library) — a masterwork of insight on the heart’s trials and triumphs in human relationships. In the second act, when the protagonist’s cynical teenage daughter probes what falling in love is like, he offers a disarmingly raw, earnest, life-earned answer: It’s to do with knowing and being known. Donating = Loving Bringing you (ad-free) Brain Pickings takes hundreds of hours each month. You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount. The Art of Tough Love: Samuel Beckett Shows You How to Give Constructive Feedback on Your Friends’ Creative Work. By Maria Popova “If I were less concerned with you I should simply say it is very good.”
If it is the duty of friends to hold up a mirror to one another, as Aristotle believed, and if true friendship is the dual gift of truth and tenderness, as Emerson eloquently argued, then it is a chief task of friendship to hold up a truthful but tender mirror to those things which the friend holds most dear — including the labors of love that are one’s creative work. By this definition, the great Irish novelist, playwright, poet, and Nobel laureate Samuel Beckett revealed himself as a true friend to Aidan Higgins — a young Irish writer living in South Africa, for whom Beckett has remained a lifelong influence.
(Beckett was also deeply invested in the fate of civil rights in South Africa and, in protesting the country’s apartheid, placed an embargo on his plays being performed before segregated audiences.) Samuel Beckett by Alain Robbe-Grillet My reluctance to comment has become overpowering. Mozart’s Magnificent Love Letter to His Wife. By Maria Popova “If people could see into my heart I should almost feel ashamed.”
It’s hardly surprising that humanity’s most beautiful minds — the creative visionaries who bequeath us with the finest works of art, music, and literature — should also be the ones who author the most bewitching love letters, that highest form of what Virginia Woolf called “the humane art.” One particularly heartwarming specimen of the genre comes from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (January 27, 1756–December 5, 1791) — doubly so for the unusual start of the romance that would become the love of his life.
Rilke on What It Really Means to Love. By Maria Popova “For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks… the work for which all other work is but preparation.”
The human journey has always been marked by our quest to understand love in order to reap its fruits. We have captured that ever-shifting understanding in some breathtakingly beautiful definitions. In Other Words" Many years ago an aging member of the house of Hanover, on learning that the duty of providing an heir to the throne of England had suddenly befallen him and his brothers, confided his alarm to his friend Thomas Creevey: "...It is now seven-and-twenty years that Madame St.
Laurent and I have lived together; we are of the same age and have been in all climates, and in all difficulties together, and you may well imagine the pang it will occasion me to part with her...I protest I don't know what is to become of her if a marriage is to be forced upon me... " Amused by the Duke of Kent's predicament, Mr. Creevey recorded the incident in his diary and preserved for us a timeless declaration. The man who made it was not overly endowed with brilliance, nor had he led a noteworthy life, yet we remember his cry from the heart and tend to forget his ultimate service to mankind; he was the father of Queen Victoria. What did the Duke of Kent tell us? Love Has No Labels.