Monday, February 13, 2012

Bono and the first existentialist

I am glad someone else catches Kierkegaardian connections in  U2:

U2’s ‘Luminous Times (Hold on to Love)’ includes the following lyrics:

I love you cause I need to
Not because I need you
I love you cause I understand
That God has given me your hand

Holds me in a tiny fist
And still I need your kiss
Hold on to love
See the sunlight in her soul.

Kierkegaard shares these sentiments. In Kierkegaard’s view of authentic love, Bono doesn’t need his wife Ali just to have someone to love, but because he needs to love. Moreover, Kierkegaard believes that if a man and a woman are “stuck together with God’s glue,” then they can be free of the anxiety and despair that poetic love produces.
Kierkegaard, like Bono, still recognizes that the beloved is unique. We can see the sunlight in her soul, as the song puts it; but authentic love is not ultimately grounded in her uniqueness. Rather, it is grounded in the divine, recognizing that God is an essential part of the relationship. As Kierkegaard envisions it, love is a triangular relationship between three parties: the lover, her beloved, and God. Husband and wife help each other to be truly happy, which for Kierkegaard means that they help each other to love God. In this relationship and in this purpose, the three are one.

Ultimately, the lead singer of the world’s greatest rock band and the first existentialist both attempt to awaken us to truths about authentic love, in all its forms. As human beings, we need authentic love, and, as human beings, we need to authentically love. However, the Danish philosopher and the Irish rock star would both urge us to remember that a mere awakening is not enough. These truths must be lived. In authentic love, we get to carry each other, and we are one.
© Michael W. Austin 2007

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