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Valentine’s Day is Upon Us

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W riting about love is such a drag. But ’tis the season, so I’ll give it a try. Love, in some ways, is a terrifying thing. With all the images of violence we use to think about love, it’s hard not to give love it’s due as a rather absurd experience. If there is anything that love and empire have in common, it is the desire to conquer another’s heart:

Licence my roving hands, and let them go
Before, behind, between, above, below.
O, my America, my Newfoundland,
My kingdom, safest when with one man mann’d,
My mine of precious stones, my empery ;
How am I blest in thus discovering thee !
To enter in these bonds, is to be free ;
Then, where my hand is set, my soul shall be.

To His Mistress Going to Bed” by John Donne, 1633.

My favorite metaphor for the pangs of love is the aching heart. Does anyone of you reading this post know what an aching, lovesick heart suffers? Mind you, the pain is not figurative. The heart really aches. It’s a strange kind of pain. It travels diagonally from the heart to the frontal lobe and back. At times, breathing may become irregular and strenuous. Some sufferers have reported slight stomach discomfort. Others a phantom hunger. But the shudders, shivers, forgetfulness, and feelings of being lost are mostly universal.

The Gandhi Cure: Look at your feet when you walk in daylight and up at the stars at night. I have it on good authority that it does not work.

In any event, Valentine’s Day is upon us. Be nice and give love to a heart that wants one.

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Ainehi Edoro is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches African literature. She received her doctorate at Duke University. She is the founder and editor of Brittle Paper and series editor of Ohio University Press’s Modern African Writer’s imprint.

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