Love Will Make You Do Crazy Things

Each month, we explore a theme through weekly MythBlasts, curated works, quotations, etc. This month's theme is The Trickster.

Hamlet statue at Gower memorial to Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Photo by Flickr user Sheep Purple, 2008. CC by 2.0.

Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said. I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things.

Will Smith

Although what the world witnessed on the stage of the Dolby Theater was a most disgraceful spectacle, the mind-boggling violence of the slap and subsequent shouts, it would be better to say here that life imitates Hollywood—or that Hollywood imitates Hollywood. But despite the shameful explosion of his violent arrogance and jealous rage, Will Smith was right on one point alone: he is living proof that love will make you do crazy things. 

We see a similar crazy love in Hamlet, for instance, in the scene where he confronts Ophelia (Sc1 Act III)—the closest they ever got to a love scene—which is also full of hate. Although the object of this hate is ostensibly the prostitution of beauty to dishonesty, there is more to Hamlet’s words than he can say. So when Ophelia responds to Hamlet’s probing questions, whether she could be both honest and fair, she asks in return whether beauty herself could “have better commerce than with honesty?” To which Hamlet replies:

Ay, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than the force of honesty can translate beauty into his likeness. This was sometime a paradox, but now the time gives it proof. I did love you once.

(Lines 1798 – 1808)

Here again the time gives proof to the apparent contradiction of Love in mortal affairs. It is a paradox in which “hate” can be the flip side of Love’s coin. The paradox of Eros embeds sexuality and violence in what is lofty and sublime as well as in what is vulgar and crude—even murderous. For in the tragic annals of “the power of Love,” we are not far from the catalog of “crimes of passion” carefully curated by the criminal justice system.

Continue Reading the Mythblast

This is an interesting fact. The very legal definition of a “crime of passion,” in contradistinction with “premeditated murder,” implies an act of violence committed under the influence of a certain compulsion or psychic force, a spiritual power which drives individuals to “act out” the violence they could not dream of. The perpetrators of such crimes are literally in an altered state of consciousness at the time they commit their murderous deeds—often regretting it deeply afterwards. The offender is in every case “triggered” by an immediate event or “cause” for which they seek to satisfy an overwhelming desire for revenge or possessiveness.

So it may be a little unnerving to learn the fact that, outside of wars and pandemics, most homicides in the world are committed by people who once loved one another very much: family members, spouses, or sexual partners. As we can read in the current statistics the shocking results cited by the legal dictionary: “crimes committed in passion comprise most of the total homicides out there. Needless to say, crime of passion statistics can be pretty unsettling.” The part that’s unsettling is the knowledge of the fact that you’re far more likely to be killed by a loved one than a total stranger. It’s unsettling to know of the existence of so many lovers-turned-killers, all of whom could say to their dead victims, echoing the words of Hamlet and Will Smith: “I did love you once. But Love will make you do crazy things.” 

Campbell touches on the paradoxical nature of Love throughout The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Nearing section 5, Master of the Two Worlds, for example, he writes: 

“The encounter and separation, for all its wildness, is typical of the sufferings of love. For when a heart insists on its destiny, resisting the general blandishment, then agony is great; so too the danger.” (196)

This danger is real, however, not simply a metaphor. This God is not a “master of two worlds” either. Despite the domestication of Eros, Love is ultimately out of our control. As Sappho of Lesbos expressed it in a beautiful fragment: “Eros, looser of limbs, tosses me about, bittersweet, overmastering creature.” 

Sappho brings us to the heart to the Ancient Greek conception of Eros which is the topic of the Symposium, the famous platonic dialogue dealing with the virtues and wonders of Love. Put in the mouth of Diotima of Mantineia, a wise woman who instructed Socrates on the art of love, Plato’s exposition of Eros becomes the highlight of the famous banquet. 

“What then is Love?” [Socrates] asked; “Is he mortal?” “No, [Diotima responded].”  “What then?”[said Socrates.] [Diotima:] “As in the former instance, he is neither mortal nor immortal, but in a mean between the two.” [Socrates:] “What is he, Diotima?” “He is a great spirit (daimon), and like all spirits he is intermediate between the divine and the mortal.” (Plato’s Symposium)

Thus Diotima attempts to teach Socrates the dialectical or intermediated nature of Love as a thing that occupies a space between good and evil, between ignorance and wisdom, between mortal and immortal worlds.

Join us in this week’s Conversation of a Higher Order to discuss further the mysterious ways and natures of the God of Love!

Yours,

Norland Tellez, PhD

Norland TellezNorland Tellez is a visual artist and teacher as well as writer and mythologist, combining the art of story-telling with the power of philosophical thought. He is both a visual development artist and a writer, as well as a story analyst in the realm of Mythological Studies. He attended CalArts and graduated from their character animation department in 1999. Norland went on to pursue his masters and doctorate degrees at Pacifica Graduate Institute, graduating in 2009 with a dissertation on the Esoteric Dimensions of the Popol Vuh, the Sacred Book of the Quiché-Maya.

Find more at mythistorian.com.


Weekly Quote

Love is the burning point of life, and since all life is sorrowful, so is love. The stronger the love, the more the pain. . . . the pain of being truly alive.

Featured Work

The Masks of God™ Volume 1: Primitive Mythology

In this first volume of The Masks of God — Joseph Campbell’s major work of comparative mythology — the preeminent mythologist looks at the wellsprings of myth. From the earliest expressions of religious awe in pre-modern humans to the rites and art of contemporary primal tribes, myth has informed humankind’s understanding of the world, seen and unseen. Exploring these archetypal mythic images and practices, Campbell examines the basic concepts that underlie all human myth, even to this day.

Book Club

“What happens when you pair an intelligent but selfish and crafty trickster with an embodiment of loyalty, compassion, and care? Get to know Loki and his wife, Sigyn, from the Norse mythological world in a fascinating dive into this unlikely coupling—Lea Svendsen’s Loki and Sigyn: Lessons on Chaos, Laughter & Loyalty from the Norse Gods. Svendsen approaches her subjects with vibrant storytelling, scholarly insights, a keen eye toward the tradition of heathenry, and always a healthy dose of humor as befits a trickster devotee. Please join me as we laugh at, learn from, and marvel at the lies and love of Loki.”

Scott Neumeister, PhD
Editorial Advisory Group
Joseph Campbell Foundation

Monthly Gift

Dialogues – Excerpt from Mythic Worlds, Modern Words

Our gift to you this month is eSingle. Access this download for free until the end of the month.

This is an excerpt from Joseph Campbell’s collected and transcribed lectures Mythic Worlds, Modern Words: The Art of James Joyce.

Arranged by Joyce scholar Edmund L. Epstein, Mythic Worlds, Modern Words presents a wide range of Campbell’s writing and lectures on Joyce, which together form an illuminating running commentary on Joyce’s masterworks. Campbell’s visceral appreciation for all that was new in Joyce will delight the previously uninitiated, and perhaps intimidated, as well as longtime lovers of both Joyce and Campbell.

Dialogues is a Q+A portion where Campbell answers questions about James Joyce’s views on didactic art.

News & Updates

Shavuot continues through June 5 and 6. This is a time for Jews to remember not only the reception of the Law itself from the hand of God but also to read from the Book of Ruth. She was a Jew by choice and not by birth.

Núr, the fifth month of the Bahá’í year, begins June 5.

Pentecost (June 5), or Whitsunday in some Christian communities, celebrates that moment which came fifty days after the Easter resurrection when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles in the form of “tongues of flame.”

Featured Video

Joseph Campbell – The Mythic Symbology of Release

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