27. 11. 2020

English Version | Love today what you can hate tomorrow

by Nuno Miguel Dias


It is often said that love and hate go hand in hand. And even those who don't like made up sentences will have to agree that they exist for some reason. It may be that this reason is the observation of the world that surrounds us. Not bad. The hard truth, however, is that each of us has experienced, at some point in our lives, this dichotomy. Some more lightly, others more blindly.  Let us assume, then, that love and hate do not go hand in hand. But there is a bridge between them. Its extent though, is variable.


We can't deny it. Because it was Carl Sagan, the Master of the Masters, the Poet of the Cosmos, the Biographer of Evolution who said it: love is a capacity that every mammal has. Science, which he loved, explains it: love is a mere biological mechanism that is determined by the limbic system, this region of the brain responsible for memory, attention, alert, breathing, orientation, even by mere food intake and, of course, by emotions. Thus, don’t feel special, my dear love birds. In this very moment, there is farmhouse mouse capable of loving. An marine elephant, a tapir, a colugo or a babirussa (please, do not leave this text to google it, leave it for later) that is falling in love. Hate, on the contrary, is the most human of capacities. It's funny, isn't it? No. Actually, it's not. is not funny at all. But it explains a lot. Maybe the whole History of Humanity. Made of inhumanity. Sometimes, of the most barbaric monstrosity. As if someone would let go of hate saying to him, "Go, my dear, be free and full."

A few years ago, when I learned that The Life of Pi (one of those books that relegate any erudition mania to the background and transport us to an adolescence that we miss so much), would be adapted to the cinema, almost all the other goals became unimportant. And there I was, eyes on the screen so that I could drop that absolutely boring cue: “Bah, the book is better". Nothing. I still can't say it to this day. I know the Canadian Yann Martel has a wonderful imagination and this is a human quality that I greatly appreciate. In the movie, this I can guarantee, there is a conversation that does not exist in the book. Something to do with the fact that the writer is too busy writing a book about “the high mountains of Portugal.” And, a few years later, this is the title with which I come across in a small bookstore that I thought was for tourists: The High Mountains of Portugal. I bought it and devoured it, just as I had done with the novel about a shipwreck that ends up on a drifting raft shared by a boy and a Bengali tiger. In The High Mountains of Portugal, Yann Martel tells us three distinct stories that are interconnected. One of them has to do with an elderly Canadian who falls in love with a chimpanzee. The descriptions of the animal’s behaviour only leave us two hypotheses: either the novelist has monkey as a pet or, as I did, watched all the documentaries, from the most extensive to those who usually air on generalist channels of Portuguese television. Either way, we have caring chimpanzees, funny (especially when related, in gestures, to humans) and, to use a very fashionable expression, cute. But it was precisely in one of those mini-documentaries on a weekend morning that I became aware of its most ferocious aspect and, therefore, surprising. A hunt. Very organized and obedient to the social scale that governs the group, they chase a monkey through the treetops until one catches it and, in a continuous act, divides him in two, trunk to one side, lower limbs to the other. All of this unfolds in an immense frenzy and shouting. It's dreadful, but there's a reason ... Chimpanzees, omnivores like us, sometimes need animal protein. They hunt out of necessity. And they choose an easy prey. Without considering it a “lower race”, without competing for food or territory. That is up to humanity.

Since immemorial times, we have been capable of the greatest atrocities. Worse, we make the most tattered excuses. Wars over resources, over land, in the name of religion? Bullshit. We give way to hate, period. When Marco Pole made the Silk Road and was attacked, in the region that today corresponds to Afghanistan, by vile robbers, what was the real reason? The valuable items ​​he carried with him? Yes. But the unprecedented savagery with which “hashish consumers” (Haxaxins) attacked made the term “murderer” eternal. When Hitler started the anti-Semitic speech, blaming Jews for Germany’s economic disgrace, did he really believe what he was saying? No. Similar to what some politicians today decide to do, because they know it works, just instill hatred in people. Be it against an ethnic minority, an entire country, a country a thousand kilometres away, it works. It justifies all the atrocities that may occur later. Authorizes them to the only ones whom need that authorization. Theirs. Those who swore to love and therefore they need to stand up for. With what? With hate. When the Inquisition used, in addition to the bonfires in the autos-da-fe, in dungeons turned into torture rooms, instruments such as the oral, vaginal and rectal pear (which widened by swivelling a screw ), the giant wheel (which crushed knees and elbows and whose reports of the time account for the tortured ones moving like octopuses on the floor, trying to get up) or the Lady Iron (a sarcophagus with iron spikes inside which, when closed, pierced the victim's body without hitting any vital organ, so that the tortured agonized for days in a row), they did it in the name of God? But isn’t God all about Love, as the Apostle John attests to in his first epistle? No. The Ti Torquemada, Chief Inquisitor seconded by the Papacy for the Iberian Peninsula, was driven by pure hate. It was what we call today a serial killer, just like that role that Javier Bardem plays in the movie No Country For Old Men (2007), the expressionless Anton Chigurh, whose ferocity only the brilliant Cormac McCarthy, author of the book that inspired the Coen Brothers, would be able to put on paper in such few words. Just like when the man who hires Carson Wells, role played by Woody Harrelson, to murder Chigurh, asks him, "How dangerous is this man?" and Wells replies, “Compared to what? Bubonic plague?” Speaking of Javier Bardem, let's take Em Carne Viva, movie by Almodóvar from 1997, as an example. As only the master succeeds in, we get a happy sneak peek inside a relationship of pure love and enviable companionship that, despite being paraplegic and unable to sustain a conventional sexual act, David de Paz has with beautiful Elena Benedetti. Until the day that David arrives home from a basketball game and, because he misses it, tries to engage with her in the usual and possible oral sex, Elena replies: “Not today that I'm sore, I was f.. the whole night… ”. She had cheated on him with Víctor Plaza, the young man who shot David, then a police officer, condemning him to a life in a wheelchair. It's one of the most revolting scenes of cinema history. As spectators, we transition immediately from the warm commotion of that seemingly untouchable relationship to a feeling of… that really, hate! Since we are in a movie kind of agenda, andassuming that you saw Marriage Story (2019), what was the scene (or sentence) that you retained? Mine was when Charlie (Adam Driver), faced with his wife’s cheating, Nicole (Scarlett Johansson), says: “You shouldn't be upset that I fucked her, you should be upset that I had a laugh with her”. This is the timing that dictates when a couple puts all love aside and starts nurturing for each other pure hatred. It is not divorce itself that dictates the end of love. Hate comes when all memories end up being less important than all the sorrows acquired over the course of the relationship. If we take love as an emotion or feeling that makes someone wish someone else well (yes, that simple), without worrying about his own well-being, maybe even cancelling himself around him/her, then hatred comes from selfishness which means thinking only of ourselves. In a relationship between couples, this happens when our personal projects are eternal frustrations and, for that, we blame the other person. It is a grudge that feeds itself until the day it explodes. When this explosion occurs, things are said that never before crossed our minds, not even about our worst enemy. It is literally a vision of hell, taking into account that the Devil is Evil (and Hatred) and his other side is God, Good (and Love). The problem is that Lucifer was just an angel who coveted the light and, therefore, in a hateful act of God, was condemned to Eternal Darkness. Think about it.

We could be here, page after page, discussing something that is a psychosomatic issue. Therefore, it’s better to ask an expert. That’s what we did. Doctor Dina Somsen, specialist in Clinical and Health Psychology at USLA (Local Health Unit of the Alentejo Coast), leaves no doubt as to what the definitions are: “Love and hate are feelings, that is, they are sensations that are related to an emotional experience. Which means that these experiences cannot be conceived without the creation of a bond, the existence of a relationship. So love is the investment that one person makes in another and the ability to receive the same feeling in return, to be loved. Coimbra de Matos [psychiatrist] says that love is not theorized, it is made and lived in a relationship. It has its genesis in the first relationship, of the baby-mother. Proximity, caring, the look from mother to baby, are development, confidence, security and, inevitably, creativity promoters, because the baby feels safe to explore the environment that surrounds him, playing, looking, experimenting”, unveils, reinforcing what was written at the beginning of this text, proof that we’re not joking around here. As for the antipode feeling, he clarifies: “Hate is related to love. Insofar as it is a feeling that arises when the person feels threatened to lose what is important to her (for example, the relationship, the love of the other). The hate can have two dimensions, a destructive one where you want something bad to happen the other (often because of how much pain it caused you) and another protective (self defence against pain, the suffering). There are those who talk about the loving hatred that arises after the loss as a way to maintain some contact avoiding the pain of absence”. We can therefore suggest that, if it turned into hate, it was once love.

But we want to go further. Find out if there is, in the approach from a professional to his patient (or a group of people), the definition of love? Or if it’s about identifying what it means to a certain person, but it can be some kind of obsession, mere sexual desire or even esteem. And how does it work in terms of professional methodology, so that a “problem” can be identified and subsequently solved. Dr. Dina Somsen interprets it as follows: “In Psychology, the question of the bond or relationship is paramount. Not only the relationship between the psychologist and the person looking for him, but also the relationships he has with those around him. At the birth (of the first relationship), love becomes your relational pattern, that is, you learned to love and be loved that way and that is the way that you tends to reproduce it, regardless of what society considers to be right or wrong. Thus, each person feels and lives love differently. When a person talks about love and love relationships, it is important to understand what love feels like for that person, that is, her definition of love, which can be different from the psychologist's representation of what love is for him. Depending on what the person says and feels, this may be the focus of help. I've had situations of people who considered that the love relationships they had were the ones they wanted and, as the support process went on, they felt that they were not happy and that that relationship was not the best for them. Relational patterns are not fixed, they can be altered, but through a psychotherapeutic process, in a new relationship (psychotherapist-person) of respect, growth and knowledge (of oneself and others)”. With regard to loving relationships and how love lies so close to hatred, there are very important details: “We are dynamic, constantly evolving and biopsychosocial beings, that is, under the influence of our body, our mind and the social environment in which we live. Today's feelings are not necessarily tomorrow feelings. Change is part of life and this is not wrong. Considering our ideal person of today not the same one of tomorrow may have different meanings, some good, others bad. Relationships are built by two people and imply involvement and desire for continuity. But, sometimes, in life, withdrawal occurs. For example, in couples who lose children, each experiences the loss differently and this pain can either bring them closer together or move them away”, she illustrates. And she goes a little deeper: “A breakup or the assumed end of a relationship is always painful and difficult. Starting from the idea that we are relational, social beings, we want proximity, contact, feeling love, receiving love, the loss of another person is always painful. Internally, that is, within our heads, loss usually feels like mourning, but with the particularity that the person remains alive. It being a process, it takes time and feelings vary because it depends on who that person is (how they think, feel and act) and how are his relational patterns”. And she concludes: “Currently there is a lot of discussion about abusive, toxic relationships, in which any form of power and/or control could be seen as violence. But I would like to focus on love, feelings and relationships that make us feel good, where we like to be. This is very important for us, to look for what makes us happy and well and the fact that we can do good to others, reciprocity, giving and receiving, respect, life”. In other words, it seems to us that love, or to create conditions for it to be irremediably far away from hatred is the cure for everything. And if your feeling at the end of this text is “All of this to reach this conclusion? I knew it”, that is a very good sign.