What happens when you fall in love?
Your world becomes electric and focuses on a single face.
I can’t get enough of looking at pictures of her. I see new features in photographs that would have looked identical to me just a few months before. My heart is radioactive. What is happening to me?
I know of many answers. Neuroscientists tell me that particular chemicals populate my brain and have a half-life of about 18 months which would mean this feeling will be replaced by more companionate hormones in a short while.
That might be true but it doesn’t help me much since I don’t believe that I’m the result of chemical processes. I know that chemistry runs parallel to experience but it doesn’t cause them. I’m not a philosophical materialist. I don’t believe that the world is a machine-like organism in which matter causes our experience. I’m a radical agnostic, by which I mean that I fundamentally don’t have the faintest idea how things work. Any conscientious scientist must agree with me. Acknowledging quantum uncertainty we have a mere statistical idea about the quantum world; we know very little about micro-organisms (about 1% of their species are known to us); we don’t know where most of the matter in the universe hides out that must be there to cause its gravitational effects; and all our laws of physics contradict when we arrive at the first quantum time unit after the Big Bang. Therefore people who call themselves realists and purport to know how things truly work basically are shoddy thinkers. They hold their beliefs to be objective truth.
So since I know nothing about the true foundations of this world, thus being more realistic than a so-called ‘realist’, I return to my question: what is this being in love?
Socrates — my ancestor in philosophy who also was convinced that he truly knew nothing– calls love a Daimon. A Daimon is a presence that exists between what we call psyche and matter in an embodied world akin to dreaming. Daimones have bodies that are not physical, just like that of my beloved who I adored last night in my dream. In that perspective being in love is a form of possession. I’m possessed by the Daimon of love (usually called Eros) and what I believe to be my feelings are actually Eros’ presence: a storm blowing through my soul with the force of a gale. This wind enlivens the pictures of my beloved on my phone and makes her akin to a Daimon, my Angel. She actually is the embodiment of love. That’s how I can understand the most private love poetry from people long dead in cultures I’ve never visited: Love, while feeling so excruciatingly personal, is not. I’m possessed and I love it! Give me more!!
Where does Love live?
Some say she lives in my heart. But they are not referring to my physical heart solely. This is a heart inside of which I live. I live in a world of heart that pounds out my song to the one I love. Nothing feels more real than this passion. This heart itself is a Daimon that causes the weather and the climate of the world in which I exist. When my heart breaks my world disintegrates because this heart was the shape and the substance of my world. Thank heaven we can grow new hearts!
So if love lives in the heart, if when I’m in love I live in a world of heart, if my heart possesses me, where does this heart live?
My love-heart lives in a world where imagination is palpably real. Here nothing matters more than love because love is the very substance of this world. Many have lost their way in Love, like in a jungle where each vine is an invitation to climb to greater heights or hang yourself. This real jungle of love is dangerous because its ground of being pulses and nothing remains set, perspectives shifting constantly.
Many people wish to live inside a more stable force field. They prefer other Daimones, like Power or a lovely Home and Hearth.
But I embrace wild love. I’m ready to have my heart broken for Love, because without this readiness I gain no entry to her rain forest.
Willingness for heartbreak is the ticket to the land of Love.
May the current heart inside of which I now exist not break…
Robert Bosnak, PsyA, is a Jungian psychoanalyst who graduated from the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich in 1977. He pioneered the Embodied Imagination method, and his current interest is focused on exploring Embodied Intelligence (MQ). Robert Bosnak is a Core Faculty Member at Jung Platform.More Posts by Robert Bosnak