conversation with a literary critic I’ve been trying to lure into studying popular romance. He’s a scholar of what he calls “literary erotic romance,” a genre that seems able to include poetry, fiction, and film [...] as long as it concerns what he calls “the impossibility of gratifying our desire.” We want too much, and are overwhelmed; we want the wrong things, and they destroy us; we want what we can’t have, and are left hungry; when we get what we want we don’t desire it anymore, or it leaves us behind. This, says he, is “the truth about love,” or at least the truth about eros.Eric, however, sees things differently: "romance fiction also tells a 'truth about love': one that may not have the intellectual pedigree that his does, or the rhetorical grandeur, or the cachet, but that deserves a hearing nonetheless." And Eric's heartened by some recent scientific findings about love from Stony Brook University. Here's a description of them from one of the sources Eric read:
A team from Stony Brook University in New York scanned the brains of couples who had been together for 20 years and compared them with those of new lovers. They found that about one in 10 of the mature couples exhibited the same chemical reactions when shown photographs of their loved ones as people commonly do in the early stages of a relationship.
Previous research suggested that the first stages of romantic love, a rollercoaster ride of mood swings and obsessions that psychologists call limerence, start to fade within 15 months. After 10 years the chemical tide has ebbed away.
The scans of some of the long-term couples, however, revealed that elements of limerence mature, enabling them to enjoy what a new report calls “intensive companionship and sexual liveliness”.
The researchers nicknamed the couples “swans” because they have similar mental “love maps” to animals that mate for life such as swans, voles and grey foxes. (from The Times)1
1 I wrote a post last year in which I mentioned this line of research into the science of love and I've also got a bit more there about the love lives of voles.
The photo is of a "Pair of black swans with their cygnets on the lake of the University of York, England," it was taken by RobertG, and came from Wikimedia Commons. Eric prefers the foxes to the swans, but I couldn't find a photo of two foxes. However, I did find a nice photo of just one grey fox, which looks like it's tracking down something (albeit probably not the truth about love).