By Omar Bihmidine
By Omar Bihmidine
Morocco World News
Sidi Ifni, March 12, 2012
A statement drew my attention fascinatingly as I was recently reading “Zorba”, a Greek novel by Kazantzakis. It goes thus: “If I had had to choose between falling in love with a woman and reading a book about love, I should have chosen the book.” Doubtless, the statement must be open to different interpretations, depending on one’s own experience of what love is, should be, and what’s already manifested in real life. Personally, the idea that I have about the statement is that if falling in-love with the opposite sex turns out to be a fruitful and uplifting experience for anyone, then they should opt for it, whereas if it turns out to be the contrary, that is bitter a experience, then reading a love book would be rewarding, heart-curing, and compensatory.
To begin with, a lover runs the risk of falling prey to unrequited love, to indifference, and to suffering. Alternatively, a lover may fight against this and succeed in experiencing one of the most romantic moments and memories in his or her life. Or, a lover’s heart may also experience fickle and ambiguous palpitations, pain and remorse. In contrast, a lover may dream romantic dreams and pursue them even though they are not part of common reality.
Lovers may sleep peacefully and serenely, for they are safe knowing that somebody is thinking about, and caring for them and is ready at any moment to stand by them if they happen to be in jeopardy. Sometimes, a lover may regret falling in loving at first sight if the loved one turns out to be the wrong one. At other times, a lover may regret not seizing the opportunity with someone who they once encountered. A lover with a broken heart may regret the day they met the opposite sex, especially if the latter turns out to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear.
On the other hand, readers of a love book have prepared themselves and learn through reading that love is most of the time idealized as is the case with Catherine and Henry in Hemingway’s masterpiece, Farewell to Arms. We all know that idealism is a form of escapism from bitter reality. The reader enjoys the story, though, he or she discovers the pleasure of knowing that something is amiss or lacking in his or her personal and social lives. Therefore, readers come to learn that for one to be a successful lover, they need to ignore commonplace trivialities and minor personality defects.
Additionally, through reading love stories, readers learn that there are two main sorts of love: spiritual love and physical love. Take the example of the metaphysical poem, The Flea by John Donne where the protagonist implores his lover to unite with him and drown together in the flea’s blood. The poem teaches us something about the values of sacrifice in a direct manner, whereas a love experience can usually teaches us nearly the same thing, but this usually happens when it is too late.
It is a truism that lovers may love each other very passionately, but there are times when they can’t help getting into a row. In this manner, love is instantly affected, trembled, shaken and doubted. Given that there is no perfect love, one may take greater delight in reading about it in novels, poems and stories, for example, and trying to feel how it tastes, whether monotonous or otherwise.
Nobody can deny that a man or a woman with rich love experiences have certain irrational qualms about a new stranger with romantic advances. Those who have experienced love and still do go through bittersweet moments, and no sooner does the time to get out of these moments come than lovers begin to suffer ordeals and sweet sorrows as Shakespeare once described parting. Irrespective of whether love treats lovers well or not, it is undoubtedly worth trying and fighting for, particularly that the life we are now leading has manifested many times the fact that nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Reading about love teaches us about where we already stand, when we should move and give the emotion a try, and at what point we should stop to contemplate the experience and turn our backs on love. As readers of love books, we have the chance to encounter and identify with successful lovers and fiascoes. Through reading, we precariously delve into the characters’ experiences that have led some of them, the hapless, astray and assembled others, the lucky, together.
In some realistic novels, for instance, we are taught that real love is rare or non-existent, and in other stories, we are taught the opposite. That is, we are shown that real love mainly lies in giving birth to children, bringing them up well, educating them, and providing them with all that they need, ranging from food to clothes. At other times, we readers are taught that reality is totally different from idealism in that we should never take for granted all the life experiences that we read about in love books.
Last but not least, love books teach us that love sometimes isn’t worth making a fuss about; that love experienced in life is ephemeral, while love depicted in love books is immortal and that life’s circumstances force us to fall in love, but it does not teach us how to find a way out of all the trouble love causes. As a form of escapism from the bitter reality of love life, love books help us enjoy the stories depicted even if we are acutely aware they are too good to be true. Quite the contrary, real love experiences teach us that love is a transient emotion that is too true to be good.