Chemistry and Choice

Huh. I guess I did finish the first ‘issue’ tonight after all. (Though the first half was taken from earlier correspondence, and the thoughts may be a little jumbled as a result.)

I’ve never had that romantic chemistry between two people. Oh, sure, I’ve had a spring in my step for an affection, and I’ve even had a few people casting meaningful glances my way. But never have these events coincided. For all that I have, but little, tasted love, I have never seen that fairy-tale state of mutual attraction. Does it really even exist? Or is it just a story the troubadours told to a hungry audience to make a buck?

I haven’t even had all that many one-way admirations. There was an interesting note on LJ a while back. The idea is that the feeling of love was based on what one thought of the other as a provider of offspring. The entry pretty much dismissed the idea, but it is kind of interesting given my worldivew.

There are too many people in the world. Many starve for want of food (and the people who have the food giving a damn) Meanwhile, we are stripping the natural resources bare to provide toys for the better off few, and starting wars to control those scarce resources, or even just land to put all of the people.

So. Subconsciously speaking. I don’t think we need too many children. So I don’t necessarily see the need to produce my own. So I don’t need a mother for them. So I don’t need anything to draw me to a woman.

As I said the theory may not be all that credible, but it’s a thought I had.

So. No chemistry, Does there need to be chemistry? Is love a choice?

An interesting bit in the ’7 Habits’ tapes:

“I don’t love my wife anymore.”
“So love her.”
“But I don’t love her.”
“So love her.’
“But that’s the point, I don’t love her.”
“So just love her.”

Certain points are certainly quite believable: to honor and respect. Arranged marriages were held for some time. I’ve heard of people maintaining a strong family until the kids were gone, and then quietly separating on good terms; all their obligations were met but there wasn’t really any reason to stay together.

Then there are people who, say, take out a personal, and things start going along nicely with the first person he really meets. And you wonder. Did he give up? Decide to just love the one he’s with?

Maybe I’ve been raised on too many fairy-tales. But it does feel like giving up to me. Sure, I could give my total commitment to someone. But if it was a purely rational choice, there would always be that kernel of doubt down deep. And what if something magic did come along. Well, what if it did? You’ve made the ultimate kind of promise to someone, and all you can think about is this other person.

In Atlas Shrugged, there is an oft repeated principle which goes something like this: “There are no contradictions in nature. If there appears to be contradiction, examine your premises. One of them is surely wrong.”

One of my premises here is that chemistry is an external event. You are walking along minding your own business and then WHAM! the light from above hits you and everthing focuses in on that one person.

The opposite would be internal. Could chemistry really be a switch waiting to be flipped? If it is, what has been flipping it so far?

I’m sure the internal versus external motivation debate has been occupying philosophers for ages. I don’t know if it will ever really be resolved.

Well that’s all fine and good, but what do I think?

I”m afraid to answer that question.

This is the kind of question that gets down deep; yanks at the roots and finds a lot connected. On one hand, I think I’d like to believe in volitional love; I’ve always been a pretty independent person; sometimes the best way to make me not do something is to try and convince me to do it. But it opens up problematic questions. For instance, volitional love might appear to the ultimate expression of reason; evaluating the candidates and dedicating yourself to the best one. Yet it offends reason in the manner of it’s arisal.

I don’t believe that anybody believes that animals go around consciously choosing their mates. Yet we are evolved from animals. At just what point does one go from “WOMAN!” to careful calculated discretion?

Well, that’s not quite right, is it? We are EVOLVED from animals; human beings exercie rational thought all day, a facility not generally attributed to lower life forms. Some humans even make the rational choice to commit suicide. If rational thought can exercise itself over fear of death, why not love of another?

So, it appears that love SHOULD be a matter of choice, if only we realized it. So what about Romeo and Juliet and all the stories like it? For that matter what about war? What about poverty? There are a lot of things that wouldn’t be in the world if every person were exercising rational thought all the time.

So where does that leave me?

That leaves me afraid to answer the question. What am I afraid of?

-Admitting that I have been living a good chunk of my life the wrong way. That a great number of my actions, all that I have to show for myself so far, could now be classified as mistakes.

-The prospect that the theory will at some point be tested. What if I make my rational choice and chemistry doesn’t follow? Is the theory wrong or am I just not strong enough to execute it? (A rather more immediate concern when I first proposed the question to myself.)

-Lost romanticism – ‘being swept off your feet.’ Or, reliance on external events to provide your happiness. And ceding of responsibility to do something about your current situation.

Of these, only the second point seems to be a real concern. And what good is a theory if you don’t test it? Not that I expect a real test any time soon. ;^)

One Comment

  1. I admire you for thinking about it so much, and I applaud you. I wish more people would think about it this much. Specifically, one of my boyfriends from Cornell…but nevermind.

    I must admit, though, that this made me shriek with laughter ::

    I don’t believe that anybody believes that animals go around conciously choosing their mates. Yet we are evolved from animals. At just what point does one go from “WOMAN!” to careful calculated discretion?