THE FATALISM OF DICHOTOMIES: “Why height?” The Politics of Love

THE FATALISM OF DICHOTOMIES: “Why height?” The Politics of Love

The Fatalism of Dichotomies is a collection of 8 essays written by Onkarabetse M. Mokgatle**, a Motswana writer with roots in South Africa too. The collection of pieces is framed to be objective, in that it endeavours to explore the New Black Conscious through the scrutiny of some of humanity’s most prevailing dilemmas.

I’ve been in love and loved quite a few times. The feeling is amazingly is a contradiction of emotions and ideals. But I would love to address something that I’ve experienced about love that I feel has taught me a great deal about myself and love; that it’s the cliche that is usually true about love. I have a particular taste in women, an affinity to a certain type of woman. But whenever I’ve been in love I’ve come to realize that it was never with that type. It was always with someone who was mostly the opposite of my preference with maybe a few attributes that I prefer. This has in turn made me realize that types are constructing because I have skipped many opportunities. And that is love, it’s at its best; open!

The way we love is a reflection of more than just our individual nature but an extension of our environment. Our generation is plagued with rewriting and undoing many wrongs brought upon by love. We are burdened with unleashing the many ways which were forced upon us by oppression, therefore denying our humanity thus we failed at love. Past love was without freedom, it necessitated a unity that deprived us of a love for self. It required us to turn a cheek to the devil in the house to be able to face the devil awaiting outside together. But now although the devil outside still lurks, we have made enough progress such that we can no look away from the devil in the house. We must clean house! We must with the most vehement voice address the malady of this love and with the most succinct of actions attack the devil in the house. We have no tau for this new love we seek, only the aspirations we conjure in our hearts and souls for it.

Love is as political, if not the most political of human emotions and human experiences. Love is the only true sacrosanct human experience. It is the pendulum that moves athwartly between the realm of reason and emotion. Love is tacit and esoteric despite the multitudes of people who experience it– very few are able to capture its essence in the common tongue. The argot of love is one that is found in tacit moments– Words need not be spoken but only felt through silence. But as stated love is the very nature of politics, whatever the reason, love is the reason for the reason. The Greeks had 7 words that categorized the types of love; 

  1. Agape; this is a spiritualistic and altruistic love. It is the love of charity and benevolence. It is this love which we use to bestow good fortune upon others. It is the love we have to see others do good. A love that allows in the most dire of times to sacrifice ourselves for the benefit of all. This love is most political of all. This is universal or the love for all.
  2. Pragma ; this is a  longstanding love. A love for reason.  A love that seeks understanding and nurtures it. This is the love that seeks to give reason to our emotion. 
  3. Philautia; or simply put self-love. This a love which in today’s world, where ‘here‘ mentality is persistent, many struggle with.
  4. Storge; this is a primitive love, an instinctive love. An unconditional love. A love by parents for their young.
  5. Ludus; or a playful, flirtatious love.
  6. Philia; or a love of friendship. A deep love among friends.
  7. Eros; this is a physical love, usually rooted in sexual desire.

Each love represents a branch of our political awareness and depravity. With each love, we can either allow the political system to surrender to our will and service others or, take advantage of others and their naive nature to either further our own political discourse within the context which we and it exists. Or we will inadvertently, grow hungry for power as we attain each love without reciprocity on our side. 

Hate is not necessarily the inverse of love because even in hate, one must have the passion of love to hate. Love even in hate, unites those who hold their love for a hatred of either a people or any other institution they may wish to establish and maintain. Many works have been produced to argue this very same point, some succinct and some quite extensive and effusive but both filled with tautology. The intention is not to necessarily argue for or against any of them but to show through a tableau of words how love is the universal parlance for both nurture and destruction. For you see, in order to loathe anything you must first love it. It is very oxymoron that imposes a rather convulsive grimace because we are not socialized let alone conditioned to understand life in itself is but a contradiction– for you only live to die, whatever lies in-between is subjective. The only defined indisputable and undebatable objective of life is to die. That is to say, however macabre we may find it, the opposite of life — death — is the only purpose of life we have proof of. Love serves the same purpose. You need not the allayed by any other means but the mere fact that every hatred movement sees itself as a true love meant to protect whatever ideology it may be. And we, in our rational minds will protest that there is no reasonable explanation for this to be love. But nothing is truly with its distemper, love being not the exception to this rule. As previously stated, love is sacrosanct and it is for this very reason that it is a grave danger. It is for this reason as is the reason for God, that love is a political instrument which wills and subjugates any of us who fail to recognize its plight because we seek a haven for the ennui that befalls our hearts.

Ceteris paribus, let us fully explore the forespeech to this piece. The narrator says the feeling of love is an amazing contradiction of emotions and ideals. This is, in the context of this writing, our first introduction to the idea of love being both an evil and a virtue. It is by admitting to this principle he begins to understand the politics of love; politics by their nature are a love-hate affair. However, love will always precede hate because as already mentioned, one must first love in order to hate. And love produces consternation far more reaching than hate. If you are, by any mystical mishap, to understand politics you must first understand love. The paradox is that love is meant to be understood but cannot by its very genus be understood. Have you watched a politician move followers with a speech? I mean not an insult to his opposition but when a politician speaks something almost otherworldly, the crowd becomes credulous, allowing him to rise to a demi-god status. Swaying to his word, hanging to the convictions and invocations, all their ailments allayed. How does that differ from how you feel when in love? Because love will above all else move you from whatever crude or elegance embraces of your life into a world so unfamiliar you almost lose who you are. And that is, it’s power. And this is what the narrator meant– that the feeling of love will set you upon a peregrination devoid of your true north. Yet it is this very alteration that sets you on a journey of discovery towards your true self; your true north.

Cliches are cliches for their truth; this is in itself a cliche about cliches. And that continues our theme of paradoxy. But to continue focus on the narrator, he speaks of how love taught him cliches will always best you when it came to love. In his case, the cliche is that of being open-minded when it came to love. There is no crime in having a particular taste, an affinity to only a specified arena of indulgence. Actually, it is one of the joys of life, to uphold a code to which the indulgence is kept. However, love is precarious. It is not bound by reason and therefore it is for this reason that many who often seek only to uphold their eros find it improbable to find and experience any other love. And it is for this reason that party association and affiliation is an incredibly horrid ideal. By subscribing to membership of a particular party, you forfeit not only your freedoms but your ability to experience the full spectrum of the ideals which you wish to uphold. Yes, compromises and sacrifices are part of the love story– but the end can never justify the means if the means mean nothing to you. Is it not magnificently malevolent how life is but what it supposes not to be? That it is seldom not what is but what is not that truly dictates things? 

So, much like love, politics demand an open mind– it requires one to interact with new ways of thinking of the old. And much like politics, love is a movement– it requires us to move in unison, to set aside our personal plight in hopes of an altruistic virtue for those we love in hopes that by taking their plight as our own we will find if not ways, at least a way to allay our own. But this by no means implies that love and politics are synonyms nor does it imply that they are different sides of the same coin. They are, at the best, volumes belonging to the same series with love preceding and proceeding politics. And it is for that we must not handle either with frivolity. We must always seek to adhere to the most stringent measures while seeking both, but never so stringent that we lose touch of [our] humanity. So seek not the heights of politics nor dismiss him simply for his shortcoming nature, but let love lead you where it may.

~ ~

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**Onkarabetse M. Mokgatle is a Motswana writer from Mmankgodi with roots in Potchefstroom & Mafikeng in South Africa as well. He has been an avid writer since his pre-teens, but his love for literature dates back to his mastery of nursery rhymes at just 5 years old. He pursued his writing skills via various forms all through his teenage years, eventually moving into facilitating and nurturing other talents in his early 20’s. He eventually took a 2-year hiatus from writing which ended in 2019, when he rekindled his love affair with writing through a series of brilliant ideas. In 2020, these ideas would go on to grow into ambitious multimedia projects originating from Africans, For Africans.


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