I write about love a lot. (Just see the tag!) Of course, passion – in this case, in the sense of artistic fervour – has led me to the psychology and philosophy of emotions and natural attachment, but I harbour more than simply academic feelings about the topic of love.
Have you ever fallen in love? Have you ever understood how the world lights up beyond the colours of our human sight? Have you ever witnessed the aura behind the wilderness, the colour you know is there, but you will never observe with your biochemistry, for it journeys from the soul and by-passes the physical?
My characters have, though each in their different ways. In a way, When the Clock Broke, is my thesis on love’s affecting personality and its magic across the multiple universes; in fact, none of my other novels have ever gripped me as academically, as perfectionistically, as this one has. Even the sequel, granted only a first draft, lacks the symbolic sparkle this novel has. Then again, it also lacks the same main characters.
Of course, as a Beta once commented, familial storge is a theme well used by When the Clock Broke. But, as with most novels, I reckon, a helping of each of the four Greek loves shows:
Agape – sacrifice, as far as that of Jesus’ body for the world. In many great novels, a hero or a secondary character sacrifices at least a part of themselves for the sake of defeating the antagonist. For Peter, sacrifice is his choice – his way of helping or abandoning poor Phillip.
Philos – friendship. Every great novel has a great friendship, even before love; every good love also contains friendship.
Storge – familial love: not as important for so many novels, but, in mine, family is what keeps and destroys my characters. It is an aim, just as much as the next love is.
Eros – sexual and romantic love. The final aim of the MCs, their final victory or loss hangs on whether eros is renewed or lost.
Too, the variety of the interpretations of love are reflected through my characters. Although I never set out to deliberately portray my opinions through my characters, sometimes these things slip through… With love, though, the different opinions are just that: different opinions.
Dr. Costello is concentrated on the traditional, arranged marriage – surely, all his sons should follow his regime? Right-wing and structured, his opinion reflects his personality. If he had believed in astrology (I’ve been delving in and out more lately), he may well have been born under a fixed sign – or an Earth-sign, a Taurus like me [edit: he’s a Capricorn, of that I’m pretty sure]. Anyway, I digress. I might write a different post on that matter.
Eldest son Stuart does follow this idea; with his arranged marriage, he only fulfils his father’s theorem, as one show of how some characters are more likely to follow their society than their heart. He bore one instance of cold feet, but, apart from that, Stuart is the one who abandons his own opinions.
In fact, his wife Lucy’s absence from the pivotal Costello dinner scene symbolises the kind of absence love has from their idea of marriage – and from their appearance in society after their union. I cannot truly say if their arranged marriage was without love. But what is the true reason for their lack of an heir?
Phillip’s very expressive opinion of love, the main theme of the novel – that love survives everything when it is pure and nourished – is not so influenced by the outside world, but is also not so self-focused, regardless of whether those are the same (though, for him, they are not). His position is that of compatibilist, where our acts are something for which we need to take full responsibility; when we love, we are setting off a chain-reaction throughout not only our lives, but also those of our families.
In his view, we see a conservative attack on the age-old system; unlike his youngest brother (see below), Phillip will do what is necessary not to offend his father or brother, but, yes, he is still the champion of living for one’s self and for the love onto which one holds, instead of a predisposed choice of ‘mate’ alone.
Phillip follows his head and his heart, the rules and the heady rush amoris.
Each Costello brother has his own view of love, as do the female characters in the novel, but, though I could, I see no point in rattling them all off. A thousand essays is a thousand – after all, you will experience love a different way to me, and I hope that the book will appeal to everyone’s reflections of love – and not necessarily through the variety. A singular word about love can resonate with a person’s soul more than any collection.
Finally: Peter is the left-wing view, the true ‘upstart’ or lacerator of the Costello name in my novel: should we have complete freedom when choosing a partner and living through our beating hearts? This shows in Peter’s youth, where he follows his heart, as opposed to any of his head telling him the best course of action, including paying attention to the needs of his family and lineage, too.
In a way, it’s like the libertarianism-determinism debate. I have yet to really vote on my opinion of whether humans have autonomy on love itself like we may have more of a choice about our partners. Love is amazing – but not everyone believes from the same heart.
Does your own opinion (not only of love) affect the way you write? Or does that passion only enhance it?
More posts on love:
On the Morality of Love (Nietzsche)
Phillip’s monologue about love (September extract)