A Valentine’s Day Program Note:
Why celebrate Valentine’s Day—why a day for “romantic love”? This is the question the GS had to face, in a time of increasing anti-Valentine’s Day cynicism, when he decided to devote a radio program to this romantic lover’s holiday and risk losing listeners because of yet another typical maudlin, “hearts-and-flowers” program, so prevalent these days, from your hopelessly romantic DJ playing non-stop, overly sentimental pop tunes for “sweethearts.”
But undeterred, the GS—hopeless romantic that he is! but not quite your regular “DJ”—took the risk this last Valentine’s Day, using it to kick off a series of musical essays he entitled “The Troubadours & The Beloved.” So he’s putting it out there for your entertainment—and your edification, since he hopes to justify such a questionable decision with some substantive ideas about the age-old theme of “romantic love” (—and “love and death”—in the Western world). (No, not a radio Valentine featuring chubby little Cupids blessing the lover’s saccharine “box of chocolates and a long-stemmed rose,” but a wounded and bloody, lean and mean, Cupid/Eros shouting “Where’s the fucking beef?”)
Okay, the GS exaggerates! Yet he can promise that in these musical essays he will explore the highs and lows, the ecstasies and agonies, the innocence and obscenities of the serious game that has been known as “romantic love.”
So, again, as to the challenging question about Valentine’s Day—Why be at all interested in the phenomenon of “romantic love” at an intellectual level?—, the GS would counter with his own basic questions.
Has the kind of “love” we recognize today—and take for granted—, “romantic love” (or “erotic love”), always existed in human culture, or was it “invented” and, if so, when and by whom? Is this kind of “love,” which our contemporary singer-songwriters sing about, older than just the modern historical period? Are there artistic ancestors who enabled these modern singer-songwriters to be what they are? Is this “profane love” (from a theo-historical perspective) the opposite of what has been normatively recognized as “sacred love”? Is the sui generis phenomenon “romantic love” (either hetero- or homo-sexual) restricted to the realm of the human heart and its affairs, the subject of psychology, or is it involved in the larger realms of cultural, socio-political, literary, philosophical, and even spiritual affairs? When Dante—as an Italian troubadour—beheld the crowning heavenly vision of his quest through Hell and Purgatory, one bequeathed to him by his beloved, Beatrice, and declared the “love that moves the sun and stars,” does he mean the kind that we declare today as the “love that makes the world go round”?
If these questions at all interest you, the GS invites you give these “Troubadours & The Beloved” musical essays a try!