Through the years Dorothy and I have spoken about this theme on numerous occasions and her perspective is: “If it doesn’t have some element of love, then why are we watching or reading the piece?” I can’t disagree. And I think having a common reference on what that word means in different settings of the human experience is critical. The ancient Greeks provided a description of four categories of love.
Agápe – An unconditional love that accepts the person for who they are regardless of their flaws, the pure and idealized love for fellow human beings. While one may not like someone, yet they choose to love the person as a fellow human being. Agápe manifests itself as sacrifice and giving while expecting nothing in return. It includes the concepts of brotherly love, charity, as well as the love of God for man and of man for God.
Phileo – An affectionate, warm and tender platonic love, it is a more targeted, specific and elective love. It manifests itself as loyalty to friends, family, and community, and reflects virtue, equality, and familiarity. It embraces the desire of friendship with someone. While one may have Agápe for your enemies, Phileo love is more personal and individual. Phileo also encompasses love of an activity, for example of music, art or sports.
Storgē – It's the common or natural empathy, like parents feel for off their offspring. It almost exclusively refers to organic relationships within the family. Storgē is an unconditional love which accepts flaws or faults and ultimately compels the one experiencing this love to forgive without condition or reservation. It’s committed, sacrificial and makes the recipient feel secure, comfortable and safe.
Éros – Is the passionate and intense love, an intimate, emotional and sexual love that arouses romantic feelings, and sometimes accompanies a phenomenon of drive, obsession and individual transformation. Although this romantic love delivers a powerful commencement to the beginning of a relationship, to survive, it must evolve. Ultimately this love must mature to focus more on the needs of the other person, and vice versa. Sometimes, if the person “in love” does not feel original exciting passions, they will stop loving their partner.
So at the very core – the very heart of any of my writing – I find see the need for love to be woven into the stories I write. It’s the glue that binds people together and drives them forward and commits them to action that will have consequence for all.
Incidentally, as I write this, I’m reading a novel by a popular author, who specializes in blends historical mysteries with fast-paced action. I’m naturally attracted to the genre. However, I picked up one of this author’s books before, and stopped it in the first fifty pages due to story gaffes and dramaturgy I quibbled with. In the current novel those problems don’t exist, yet the story focus remains all about the mystery and the action. There’s no love. Nothing of the four categories above. Sure there’s a bit of sex, but it’s without the Eros, more of a mercenary feel to it. I’ll probably finish the book, because of the interesting historical subject matter, but I don’t feel compelled to seek out more writing by this author. That’s a lesson for me, and Dorothy provides insight into why I’m not compelled to reach out for more of this author, or will I ever become a fan. There’s no love.
A fun footnote: As a touching gesture of her love in our friendship, Dorothy named one of her characters in her Star Trek novel Vulcan’s Glory after my daughter who had just been born at the time: Enterprise Chief Engineer Caitlin Barry.