In Julian Barnes’s History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters, the “1/2” chapter is a treatise on love. I adored every word of it, and here was my favorite part:
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not recommending one form of love over another. I don’t know if prudent or reckless love is the better, monied or penniless love the surer, heterosexual or homosexual love the sexier, married or unmarried love the stronger. I may be tempted towards didacticism, but this isn’t an advice column. I can’t tell you whether or not you’re in love. If you need ask, then you probably aren’t, that’s my only advice (and even this might be wrong). I can’t tell you who to love, or how to love: those school courses would be how-not-to as much as how-to classes (it’s like creative writing—you can’t teach them how to write or what to write, only usefully point out where they’re going wrong and save them time). But I can tell you why to love. Because the history of the world, which only stops at the half-house of love to bulldoze it into rubble, is ridiculous without it. The history of the world becomes brutally self-important without love. Our random mutation is essential because it is unnecessary. Love won’t change the history of the world (that nonsense about Cleopatra’s nose is strictly for sentimentalists), but it will do something much more important: teach us to stand up to history, to ignore its chin-out strut. I don’t accept your terms, love says; sorry, you don’t impress, and by the way what a silly uniform you’re wearing. Of course, we don’t fall in love to help out with the world’s ego problem; yet this is one of love’s surer effects.