"Falling in love again, what am I to do? Never wanted to... can't help it"

Kate Hoolu

As the Marlene Dietrich song says, we really have no control over that most basic and eternal of human processes; falling for someone. And it's not just a man-woman thing: gay men and lesbians have exactly the same phenomena; and bisexuals too, so it may be one of those elusive items that make up a purported "human nature". This, as the rather cool French philosopher Sartre said, must apply to all of humankind, everywhere in the world, and for all time. So a lot of modern phenomena such as the "vodka-swilling drunken yob culture" can't be human nature as they could not have occurred in the Stone Ages as if they did have spirit alcohol (debatable, but it looks like the Chinese invented distillation, and the West got it only a few hundred years ago), there were still no laws against riotous behaviour, and no nightclubs and traffic islands to wreck in any case…. And it would not occur in civilisations elsewhere on earth today that do not use alcohol- I suggest you do not try getting publicly hammered on Stolly in a Middle-Eastern country, unless you want to see why.

Other, more rock solid candidates for components of a human nature include the basic survival needs of shelter, air, water, warmth and food. Personally I think that aggression in defence of kin, and/or aggression to repel strangers who are perceived as threatening is another: which psychologists like Lorenz put forward nearly 50 years ago: if you threaten a mother's child anywhere at any time then you're going to get some memorable trouble for sure… Anyone got any other possibilities? Stick 'em in the forum [in the Comments below] please, this could be a really good topic for discussion/ranting about. Someone might put in religious celibates as the exception that disproves the rule, but on closer examination I think they are in love with their Deity, so it still counts- for example a lot of the mediaeval devotional religious writing from monasteries and nunneries of that time is profoundly emotional, loving and very moving. For all such literature, by substituting a person's name for that of the God or Goddess concerned it reads like anyone's terrestrial love letters, and is made all the more poignant for being unrequited- or one assumes so -not having the Deity's reply letters to see if they felt the same way or told the devotee to "go away you creepy stalker". As an aside, Dave and I are co-writing a short piece on stalkers as we've both had one- although not the same person stalking us both….. that would be too much…..article coming soon to a weborama near you.

OK, let's get to the point, and into gossip mode:- Dave's been gossiping in the forums about me… and narrowly escaped with his life due to some extremes of grovelling, so time to come clean- I've just met someone new. But this is not going to be (entirely) a "Just 17" style article. Instead it's an attempt to clear my head a little via a quick overview of science and medicine and talking about falling in love, and it relates to Dave's article on Delusion which I have read several times in a broader topical mindset, i.e. beliefs and reality, after meeting this new person, and I've had Dave laughing, not totally unkindly, at me on the phone for an hour, mostly about my idealising of the situation: one of my "talents for disaster", but it seems everyone does it in these situations… maybe that too is a part of human nature? We can't know, as we have no psychological profiles of prehistoric WoMan, so it falls though Sartre's conceptual net.

I've just realised I've instinctively typed that old 70's Feminist version- "WoMan"… interesting; had got out of the habit of using it years ago (awkward to type if nothing else), but there will soon be a piece here on gender titling and Tim Leary's combination personal pronouns: She and Hir for he/she and his/her. Oops, can't concentrate- see symptoms below: back to the topic:

The new person was a complete stranger, but on an opportunity for lengthy conversation (via a serendipitous meeting, that was highly charged with both feelings and symbolism of 'fate'- a concept I detest, by the way, but what the heck) they turn out to be witty, intelligent, open-minded, possessed of soul and spirit, capable, Mercurial, both a good listener and confident talker, extremely physically attractive…… oh gods yes, gorgeous! (and this is mutual feeling, it seems, unless I'm being a total dumbass at reading signals-wouldn't be first time), deep shining eyes that betray an inner light and unfathomable wisdom, face of a Michelangelo artwork and a smile you could die for -or at least melt, swooningly at their feet; in the hope of being picked up afterwards in those arms…. Jeez, this is starting to sound like some appalling Mills & Boon novel… (and no, you don't get a weblink to that kind of trash), vivacious, caring, of compatible age, same height- so there is no implied physical superior-inferior stuff, we have masses in common, are geographically accessible to each other… and a whole lot of other things not listed here for brevity's sake (and so as not to make readers make puking signs too much) that would fit my fondly and long-held ideas of an ideal partner.

This person gets the kind of stellar high score on a criteria match you think you'll never get, regardless of the 6 billion+ people on the planet: like, it's never going to be that good a match to an ideal you construct yourself, not based on real people, is it. Is it? That kind of thing only happens in fiction, surely?

Oh yeah, and they're SINGLE! Lucky, Lucky, Lucky! It's not often I'm tempted to shout: "So there is/are a god/gods/goddess(es)!" Will make an exception this time.

So, my head's going batty- but what's going on from a scientific viewpoint?

The initial phase of falling in love is a complex mix of physiological, mental and emotional events, many of which could or would equally fit the symptomatology of physical and/or mental illness if you told your Doctor what was happening to your mind and body, but WITHOUT mentioning the 'lurve thang'. Your heart flutters with no warning (panic attack?). Your legs go wobbly and you feel faint (anaemia?), your jaw seems locked in a permanent and unshakeable grin (Tetanus?), you have unrealistic optimism (delusory symptom?), your attention span dwindles and you often can't string a simple sentence together (Alzheimer's? Vitamin deficiency? Stroke?), you are withdrawn and a slight smile plays on your lips (substance abuse?) as you contemplate the most positive idyllic possibilities for the future and live out potential scenarios of variable likelihood in your head, often oblivious to what people are saying to you (catatonia?). A second or subsequent meeting is mooted, your heart races as you prepare for it (cardiac arrhythmia?), you see stars and colours in the air and there is fluctuating pressure in your head (epilepsy?).

Your mind constructs complex, convoluted and often completely wrong, if not totally paranoid webs of what a single and usually only slightly ambiguous word or phrase in a phone call or letter might "really" mean (schizophrenia?). A letter or phone call doesn't arrive when it should, or when you IMAGINE it should, with no external referent to the other person sometimes, and this tiny disruption of scheduling and order can bring on surprised hurt, extremes of panic and an overwhelming desire to put everything right, and back on track (some forms of autism?). A tiny event with some tenuous similarity to an event in a previous relationship that went sour might trigger all kinds of unease, if not blind and disabling fear about "what if X is going to happen again" (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?), and if, like me, you have recognisable cyclic patterns for why relationships destruct in "…. partner from Hell" ways, and similar things have happened several times, then that leads back to both paranoia and rapid swings of emotion- elation and gloom - about maybe whether this possible relationship with this person one will be "the one that breaks the mould" and "works" (schizophrenia again, and/or bipolar depression), which again might be an unreasonable hope (delusory?).

No way of knowing which (if any) of the above it is- in love, sick or just lovesick? Maybe more than one of the above, and largely dependent on the context you yourself, or rather me myself with this person, put on it.

As the mighty, or at least mightily weird Robyn Hitchcock put it, if a little tautologically: "So you think you're in love?… Well you probably are". To misquote another French philosopher: "I think (I am), therefore I am". In Love.

Signing off now, grinningly, and enchantedly "yours", in the letter-writing sense, but THEIRS otherwise, I hope, unless I'm just making a fool of myself… again. If I am being an idiot here you'll know for sure, because the next few articles will be about all sorts of dark stuff, like retrospective Sisters of Mercy and The The album reviews, accompanied by the repeated thudding of my head onto my desk in time to one, two or several of: the music, the peaks and troughs of my own despair and the ironic laughter of the universe. If I'm right there will be a series of, uncharacteristically for me, 'hello trees, hello flowers!' -esque essays. Watch this space…

Dedicated to "T", with love, light and supreme hope and anticipation for the future. This was written some time before going on-line, for reasons that are not for public consumption.