Is geographical proximity important for true love? Some might think no. For example, the kind of love described at the opera: l’amour de loin (Love from Afar). It is the first opera by the Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho from a five-act French libretto by Amin Maalouf. The opera, that was given its world premiere performance on 15 August 2000 at the Salzburg Festival, relates the story of Jaufré, a love-struck young poet who wrote to a faraway lover in Tripoli, Lebanon. Now the most important element in this story is that the two lovers barely meet because Jaufré is so apprehensive of this meeting that he becomes sick during his trip and dies just as he arrives in Tripoli. The woman he loves enters a convent.
So this kind of love is a form of what has been called “platonic”, where imagination plays an important role and the two lovers never touch. But they don’t even get a chance to know one another, talk, have a fight, reconcile. There was no internet at the time, and impossible to see each other from Afar.
Now, is it easier to fall in love with someone from Afar? For certain people, yes. The advantage, you can idealize the object of your affection, and even suffering because of the distance has something noble in it. On the other hand, it is a quasi-imaginary relationship, that you can also have with a fictional character. Though very poetic, I am not very sure it is different from falling in love with a well-known actor in your adolescence.
I am talking about this because I have an experience in this kind of love and its pathologies. And I would like to change that. The love from Afar could be romantic, but it is for cowards. If the lovers don’t dare to meet, then, they are chicken. They don’t have the guts for a love-story in this time and space.
The charm of the love that is near could be more discreet, less easy to idealize, but so REAL!
I was looking for something to illustrate my point, and fell on this song, in english :”How near is Love?” performed by Engelbert Humperdinck, a British singer I have just discovered.