Passionate and compassionate love
According to social psychologist Elaine Hatfield, one of the pioneers of relationship science there are two basic types of love; compassionate love and passionate love.
"Compassionate love is characterized by mutual respect, attachment, affection and trust. Compassionate love usually develops out of feelings of mutual understanding and shared respect for one another. Passionate love is characterized by intense emotions, sexual attraction, anxiety, and affection. When these intense emotions are reciprocated, people feel elated and fulfilled. Unreciprocated love leads to feelings of despondence and despair. Hatfield suggests that passionate love is transitory, usually lasting between 6 and 30 months. Hatfield also suggests that passionate love arises when cultural expectations encourage falling in love, when the person meets your preconceived ideas of an ideal love, and when you experience heightened physiological arousal in the presence of the other person. Ideally, passionate love then leads to compassionate love, which is far more enduring. While most people desire relationships that combine the security and stability of compassionate with the intensity of passionate love, Hatfield believes that this is rare." Quoted source: http://psychology.about.com/od/loveandattraction/a/theoriesoflove.htm
David Link, LoveLetters_1.0, dOCUMENTA(13), Love letters generated by one of th worlds first programmable computers, 1953 -1954.
Passionate love requires an idealization of the object, not recognizing him or her as he/she really is and instead projecting your own ideals on the object. From a Freudian and traditional psychoanalytic perspective, such romantic idealization is regarded as rooted in primary narcissism. Freud saw romantic love, like religion, as an illusion, and he believed the idealization that fuels romantic passion to be immature and dangerous. More recently, however, psychoanalysis have suggested that idealization and narcissistic fantasy may in fact be necessary, healthy components of mature adult life.
"For Hans Loewald (1980), Stephen A Mitchell (2000) explains, an adult reality that has been separated from infantile fantasy is a dessicated, meaningless, passionless world. . . . For life to be meaningful, vital, and robust, fantasy and reality cannot be too divorced from each other. Fantasy, cut adrift from reality, becomes irrelevant and threatening. Reality, cut adrift from fantasy, becomes vapid and empty. Meaning in human experience is generated in the mutual, dialectically enriching tension between fantasy and reality; each requires the other to come alive."
"Narcissistic idealizations and fantasies, in other words, are necessary to the experience of passion and to the ability to live an emotionally rich, creative life. What we need is not to renounce illusion or fantasy in favor of reality, as Freud would have it, but rather to hold both in a delicate, taut balance—a dialectical tension."
Quoted source: Psychoanalysis and Romantic Idealization: The Dialectics of Love in Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd, Barbara A. Schapiro, Faculty Publications (2005)
So, we seem to need fantasy in our lives. This may seem obvious and within ourselves most of us probably know that this is true. The hard thing though is the balance between the two of them, fantasy and reality. Knowing when we can let go into fantasy and when to be realistic, when we should critically observe and try to to discern some kind of reality in what we encounter in life. It's quite easy to get stuck in either of two. You may be a person who most of the time is "up in the blue", having a hard time looking beyond the beautifying (or uglyfying) filter of your mind, projecting your own meaning on life as you encounter it. Or on the other hand you can be a controlling person, callous, having troubles in enjoying life in moments where you have the opportunity to, or even are supposed to because you are busy analysing it.
So how do we manage this balance, can we consciously control when to let go and when to be realistic? Sometimes it is easy. If you go to see a fiction movie you know you are allowed to be seduced by the story, music and the images, allowed to escape reality for an hour or two. Though if you're going to see a documentary it is immediately harder. The movie claims to depict some kind of reality but does so through the cinematic medium, with beautifying or uglifying images and music, romanticizing the subjects it meant to deal with. I have two documentary examples The Cove, which I hated because the heroes of the movie embrazed in almost military aesthetics and methods (camo clothing, stealth, night vision cameras) in revealing the atrocities of japanese dolphin hunters and secondly, Searching for sugarman which I enjoyed but as an romantic movie which I felt had little to do with reality. Maybe those two movies will generate an own article in this site in time.
Partly yes and partly no, we cannot and probably should not always try to consciously control when to let go into fiction. Because if we tried too the magic would disappear, the fantasy is dependant on a certain amount of belief. In the case of passionate love for instance, we probably don't want to risk killing these arousing sensations by analysing the other too much.
These texts about passionate and compassionate love are the closet to a justification of the tension between reality and fiction which have been occupying me in my artistic work for quite sometime. The kind of conflict between the two that exits in many of my works. On one hand encouraging to escape reality into romantic fiction and on the other hand reminding the viewer of the "ugly" reality behind the fiction, cracks, monsters, elements of chance etc. I say ugly reality but I don't really mean that because in most of the cases I try to find new beauties in the reality of life. To find beauties in things that at the moment is not generally considered as beauties.
Where do you want to go next?