26 April 2009

A Short Post about Love

Apropos of a conversation I had last night, I attempted to find out the price of a blow job by using the internet.  Using basic logic, I typed into Google, "how much does a blow job cost" (I sometimes worry that the police will confiscate my computer for some reason: my search requests suggest a bizarre and unsettling group of preoccupations on my part, and in a police search I fear I would come off very badly indeed.  But that's a story for another day).  Well, it turns out that the price of a blow job varies widely, and not just from level of prostitute to level of prostitute.  In Los Angeles, apparently, prices start
at $300!! (I wonder if Hugh Grant paid by credit card? Does he carry that much cash?)  Whereas in Glasgow, according to a website, a man got one for £7.50 by bargaining down from £10.  Who bargains down to £7.50 for a blow job?  First of all, even at £10 you gotta question the quality of the workmanship.  But £7.50?  You have to scrabble awkwardly round for the 50p, or ask your mates, which would be rather odd.  On the other hand, if you are a man who bargains a prostitute down from £10, pays £7.50 for a blow job, and then tells your friends that tale with pride (which is how it got on the web in the first place), I suspect asking your friend for 50p to make up the price is not a problem.  Which part of that story is most vile?

I know:  not the way you expected a post about love to begin.  But there you are.

ANYhoo, the point of this post is to reflect on the sad deficiency of the English language when it comes to love.  Indeed, there is a sad deficiency in most languages.  Spanish has two forms of love, "quiero" and "amo," I know, and one of those is for friends, while the other is for lovers (and sometimes family).  That's a good start, because in English you can get into horrible trouble telling people you love them:  the best we can manage is "love" and "in love," and even there the difference can apply to romantic love as well as what one might call amicable love (love for a friend). 

Umberto Eco has an essay in which he discusses the inadequacies of the expression, "I love you," arguing that its overuse has made it nebulous.  When we mean "I love you," as in "I love you romantically," he says, we should perhaps say something like, "As a Barbara Cartland novel would say, 'I love you.'"  But even that wouldn't cover it for me.  Here are some kinds of "I love you" that I think we should have separate words for:

  • I love you as a friend. (this one is obvious)
  • Your selfhood delights me.  That is, your unique "you-ness" gives me immense pleasure.
  • You have increased my pleasure in an already-pleasurable experience (this one is rather odd, because the love here is not really for the person, but rather for the increase in pleasure.  So you love them as a facilitator.  Hmmm).
  • You make me laugh.
  • It makes me immensely happy to be with you.
  • I love performing this specific activity with you.
  • You make me want to nuzzle you.
  • I want to kiss you (not friendly kissing, but not anything more than kissing).
Then I think we ought to have separate words for all the sensuous pleasures, so that "I love the way this smells," and, "I love the way this tastes" would have their own separate words.  And I also think we should separate words for increasing levels of love, so that "I love this," and, "I really love this" would get different words.

As it is, all we have at the moment is expressive phonology, so that if we want to tell someone we love them romantically, we say, "I love you," but if we want to tell someone that their unique selfhood gives us delight, we have to say something like, "I LOVE you."  Let down by language yet again!

So let's see...What if friend love were "frove"?  "I frove you, man!"  And what if the smelling one were "smove"?  "I smove that," or, "I smove you."  But the unique pleasure one is tougher - there doesn't seem to be a way to add letters to love to express that:  "I yove you"?  You sound like a crazy baby-talker.  "I enove you"? (enjoy+love)  You sound like you're mispronouncing, "I enough you."  

I see I have some work to do here.


Incubus said...

Perhaps there are more variants in Portuguese:
- Amo: deep love, for sure with sex, unless you say it to family.
- Adoro: love as a friend;
- Curto: you are a funny person, delightful to stay with. No sex intended.
- Gosto: just simpathize, although a potential firs step to reach "amo" level; it is a just a "crash".
- Quero: totally sexual. Means that you want the person as your possession.

Vespertina Quies said...

These are very useful, especially curto. Boy, I wish we had that in English!

Anonymous said...

Apparently Hugh Grant only paid $45... >:-)

Rosasharn said...

S and I have our own formulation: "I grelove you." Great love + a bit of 'grrrr,' baby.

In a similar vein, I recently told the kids that we don't love pancakes, we enjoy pancakes. Love, one way or another is for something that can love you back (including dogs, but not including chickens. Chickens love no one.)

And, for the record, I take pleasure in your unique you-ness. There, I've said it.