I WANT YOU, BUT I WANT YOU TO WANT ME
Marvin Gaye in his comfy grey sweatsuit lying on a couch. It is 1981, a rehearsal, somewhere in a basement music studio. The singer's voice is strangely emotional as he sings his love song a confession of his burning feeling, seemingly unrequited. Gaye lies on the couch, in his gray sweatsuit, stabbed by the arrow of eros – emotional, vulnerable, obsessive, dreaming "of finding a reason to want to live an hour longer" (William James). Love is the solution to this problem.
Those who experience love are lucky to have felt its richness. Those who fail to win/find love, not only suffer the lack of it, but are also haunted by the painful thought that without love, they’ll never experience life’s great mysteries.
Which is why Gaye sings, “I want you.” He wants his love to be reciprocated – to experience that ecstasy, feel that deeper heartbeat. But what the hell is love? Does it really give meaning to everything or is it just a word, a sign? Like Magritte’s drawing, which humbly presents a pipe, but then states, “This is not a pipe.” As Michel Foucault wrote, “This is not a pipe, but a drawing of a pipe," "This is not a pipe but a sentence saying that this is not a pipe," "The sentence 'this is not a pipe' is not a pipe," "In the sentence 'this is not a pipe,' this is not a pipe: the painting, written sentence, drawing of a pipe – all this is not a pipe.” Take Foucault’s words and replace “pipe” with “love” and you’d get the general idea – that love is almost impossible to explain or quantify. But then, on the other hand, Gertude Stein seemed to spell it out quite easily when she wrote that a “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose”. Simple. Everything is what it is. A is a. Love is love.
And a heart is a heart, literal, like a dot at the end of a sentence. But a pipe is still not a pipe – and a heart is still not love. A heart seduces with its shape and transforms into a symbol of love, a social fact, a linguistic sign; transforms into iconography, passive reaction model, and unicode. A heart is the little chocolate, a heart is the balloon, a heart is on the wing of the pigeon. And while the pigeon is the symbol of Aphrodite, a pigeon is not a pipe. Nowadays, the heart is used to sell the most ephemeral and trivial products; the heart is a sweetener for commodities. And so, in our perverse world, we feel actual emotion when we open up our wallets. Meanwhile, restlessness is growing and we are clinging to each other trying to understand if what we feel is really love.
If words name what is, then language controls our understanding of what we feel. And if, as some theorize, language developed from early human song, then singing is our simplest and most honest emotional expression. In his song “Heart,” the Polish singer Grechuta sings, "Well, but it is only a bouquet of mere roses. Yes, it is... So what shall I give you? I will give you a golden heart." So love is love. But love is not a pipe. Love is that heart-shaped puddle that we clumsily fall into so as to “intertwine in the cycle of eternal farewells and returns, the cycle of birth, maturity and death…[and] know that man is part of this cycle, part of his sorrow and his song” (Rollo May). Wanting to live...love is the solution to this problem, and so, Marvin Gaye, lying on the couch in his grey sweatsuit, sings:
Don’t play with something you should cherish for life, oh baby Don’t you want to care? Ain’t it lonely out there?
Yeah, like, real fucking lonely.