The following are approximately the first 1000 words from Chapter 5 of Jonar Nader’s book,
How to Lose Friends and Infuriate Lovers.
What you heard is not what I meant
If love were a country, what language would they speak there?
For some strange reason, I am often asked about my hobbies. People want to know what I do when I am not working. I tell them about my physical activities; which are not so unusual.
What I have never told anyone is that I have obscure mental past-times. These are invisible hobbies that take place in the dark-recesses of my mind. I have a great time when I allow my mind to ponder the whys and wherefores of nature, the magnitude of the cosmos, and the quirkiness of the human race. I observe and query how the human animal, as a species, has evolved. In so doing, I rarely arrive at conclusions. Instead, I sink deeper in doubt about our chances of survival.
One of the most fascinating of all human faculties is that of language. Not just the fact that we communicate through vibrating our vocal chords, but that we have invented so many languages. Thousands of languages have become extinct, and still, we have thousands of languages that hold this world together (or keep it apart). As I think about this bizarre situation, I can’t get past the roadblocks in my head. Such as, how did humans, as animals, first start to make utterances as a form of expression?
If we gathered one thousand babies at birth, and isolated them in a commune, would they form their own language? How many generations would it take before they create their own alphabet? How long would it be before they start singing? And when, on the evolution dial, would the first citizen expel that inexplicable, universal, and perhaps the only real human expression that transcends all language — the scream?
At which point will the citizens of the new isolated generation invent a word for greed? And when will they all appreciate the universality of love and hate? Or, would they harbour dozens of feelings in private, not daring (and perhaps unable) to express themselves, for fear of ridicule? Would they presume that everyone must labour under the same set of feelings, or do they soon learn that what they like and dislike does not resemble what others deem to be normal? Would it be at this point that the thought of lying crosses their mind for the first time? Even so, who’s to say that our experimental isolated generation would cast judgement about lying? Maybe it would not be taboo to lie? Maybe no such judgements would enter the equation. Perhaps morals and ethics take centuries to develop.
This chain keeps me agog for hours at a time, until someone notices my intense, pensive expression and interrupts me with, ‘What’s the matter? Are you alright?’
What can I say? How can I say it? Invariably, I just tell them that I was ‘thinking’. Indeed, the burrows are many. One of them leads me to wonder about the language of love. Sorry, I don’t mean the language of love. I mean the love language. If so many people speak a different language, and some speak more than one, then could it be said that each of us speaks a different love language?
A crowd of one thousand people can be partitioned by their physical make-up, their wealth, education, points of view, heritage, race, and culture. Naturally, the more columns we add to the database, the messier it all becomes. But at least most categories are easy to query. Demographics, psychographics, geographics, and dispo-graphics (a word I invented to describe one’s disposition) could be documented, because each question can elicit an answer. When it comes to languages, it’s not unusual for someone to say that they speak English, they read Arabic, they understand French, and they write Latin — notwithstanding their basic understanding of the language of music and that of mathematics.
But has it ever occurred to you that the column that has neither rhyme nor reason is the one that tries to capture the love language? You see, generally speaking, people congregate. It is not unusual to find Jews living together, or Chinese people sharing the same suburb, or the rich at the same social functions, or the ravers at the same parties, or Puccini buffs at the same opera house. In small measure or en masse, people come together and then go their separate ways — in and out, in and out, just like the tide. They crisscross daily, or maybe once in a while. People, who might have nothing else in common, gravitate together to watch an event that captures their imagination. For that short time, they are co-witnesses. They are co-spectators. Then they depart. But for that brief period, we can collate the data and say that they have (or had) one thing in common, whether it be football, the Olympics, a celebrity wedding, a bloody war, a natural disaster, or a public protest.
All this, to explain to you that human activity can be categorised and classified.
He is a communist.
She is a Catholic.
They are rich.
We love chocolate.
But, but, but, not so with love. Round them all up: the chocoholics; the Catholics; the communists; the co-spectators; and the co-witnesses, and put them in the same room, then bring in the statisticians. Somehow, at some point, they will slice the room into the good, the bad, and the ugly.
But, but, but, one division that will never work, is the division of the heart. There is no way to group people together by how they love, who they love, what they love, when they love, how deeply they love, how intensely they love, how weirdly they love, how selfishly they love, how amazingly they love… if they love at all. And even then, those who don’t know what you’re talking about cannot be lumped together because some love neither deeply nor intensely, and neither intentionally nor consciously. No two people are the same. No two hearts flutter in synch. No two lustful thoughts are… are… are… I can’t say it, because no single word can completely satisfy what I am trying to say. So here’s the question: if no two people speak the same love language, how do they communicate?