MEN FALL TOO
By William V. M. McAllister
I found these distinctions fascinating, not so much because we don’t have the concepts in our modern culture, but more because of how clearly the different terms distinguish between these fundamental and sustaining emotions, ideas that we in the modern era seem to house under, or force even into, one overarching term: love.
When writing Malee: A Tear in the Ocean, I was writing from the point of view of this more modern concept of love, of Eros, equating the Greek’s six definitions of love to our English concept of love that we let encompass these many expansive emotions. It is not that I was surprised to find my definition of Eros challenged, having thought of it as a more overarching term, but more so that I was surprised how the Greeks had defined the different categories of love and affection and how closely the characters in my novel move though and come to terms with these defined yet fluid boundaries.
In Malee, I had worked to explore how loneliness and love affect one’s life. This work became a deep dive for me. In this exploration I had, in my own way, written about each of the categories of love as I began trying to convey the kinds of affection that have moved me as a person, pulling from my own experience as well as my observations of others and my imagination. These filled the lives of my characters.
There is Michael, our hero of the story, who is coming off of an unexpected separation from the wife whom he had loved very much, Helen. As Michael struggles with this loss over the course of the book, the theme of Pragma, the love between long-married couples, swings back and forth with the now lack of this substantial relationship. This unexpected nose-dive leaves Michael vulnerable and hurting, and as he buries himself in his work, he finds that the unexpected happens.
While on a business deal in Thailand, he is confronted with the sweep of a more playful love as he meets a younger woman named Wan. While Wan begins to think more seriously on their days together, Michael is enthralled by the new, in the excitement of that flirting and play that characterizes young love. For Michael, this is a very real love, innocence mixed with the thrill of new experiences, but it is not sustaining. It becomes clear that, while momentarily captivating, it cannot last.
Leaving Bangkok for another part of the country, the farthest thing from Michael’s mind is another chance at real love, but then he meets Malee. It is love at first sight as the two fall madly and deeply in love or as the French would say: a coup de foudre, – that moment where you feel you are falling off an emotional cliff, and life will never be the same. It is this falling, this possibility of folding back all six distinctions of love into one relationship that thrills us and keeps us all hoping for deep and sustaining love, a modern experience that encapsulates our era’s definition of Eros – true love.