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Beware of Love

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By means of posters, advertisements, lectures and serious scientific books, people are taught how to avoid or cure flu, smallpox, a broken ankle, and mumps; at the same time the major part of the world’s literature (which is not to be confused with world literature), almost all the films, magazine stories and radio plays persuade you in an indirect way to catch a much more dangerous disease than any illness, universally known under the name love.

The main symptoms of the disease are these:

1) The germ – a charming young lady in some cases, not so charming and not so young in others – makes the silliest and most commonplace remarks and you consider her wittier than Oscar Wilde, deeper than Pascal and more original than Bernard Shaw.

2) She calls you Pootsie, Angelface and other stupid and humiliating names; you are enchanted and coo with delight.

3) She has no idea what is the difference between UNESCO and LCC (London County Council) and you find this disarmingly innocent.

4) Whenever she flirts with others and is rude and cruel to you, you buy her a bunch of flowers and apologize to her. If she misbehaves seriously, you buy her jewelry.

The overwhelming majority of novels, short stories, films, etc. teach you that this dangerous mental and physical ailment is something glorious, desirable and romantic. Who are you to question the wisdom of this teaching? You are expected to take the lesson of these high authorities to heart and believe that the world is mostly inhabited by lovers who commit murders and murderers who fall in love.

The least intelligible thing of all is the fact that love is constantly confused with marriage. Even if we accept the thesis that love is all right because it is a “natural thing” we should, I think, insist that it should be kept out of marriage. You are supposed to choose your future spouse when you are absolutely incapable of so doing. You have to choose her or him when you are in love, i.e. when you think silliness wisdom, affectation real charm, selfishness a good joke and a pretty face the most desirable of all human attributes. You would never send a deaf man to buy gramophone records, a blind man to buy you paintings and an illiterate man to choose you books; but you are expected to choose the person whom you are going to hear more than your favourite records, see oftener than any of your pictures and whose remarks will be more familiar to you than the pages of your treasured book – in a state of deafness, blindness and illiteracy. You may be fortunate: there are a great number of good records, pictures and books around and even the deaf, blind and the illiterate make a lucky shot. You may discover that there is nothing much in your choice, except that you bought a rousing march instead of a pastorale, an impressive battle scene instead of a still life, and a copy of War and Peace instead of The Ideal Husband. Or else, in two years time, you may realize that silk stockings and the films she likes – or the game of billiards he is so terribly fond of – are not the only things that excite you and that to be called “Pootsie” over the age of 35 is slightly inappropriate. You may wish your wife knew that Vladivistok is not an illness of which Napoleon died after the siege of Sebastopol. But then it is too late.

I suggest:

1) Any propaganda inciting to love (in films, short stories, novels, paintings, etc.) should be made a criminal offence. The author of such a piece should be sent to a desert island with his beloved for five years.

2) Any person falling in love should be sent to quarantine in a similar way.

3) Love should be abolished altogether.

5) Comment on the author’s view of love and marriage.

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