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I love U - by Joannes Richter -

At the age of 13 years I learned the phrase "I love you" in a number of foreign languages and I
knew to address the sweet Swedish girls with "jag älskar dig". These phrases seemed important to
me in communications with foreign acquaintances at holidays. These and other tips have been
spread amongst teenagers in the early fifties, which is long gone now and television takes care of
educating the very young in other arts by now.

As a teenager I remember to have observed inflationary effects in languages. Those days cinemas
presented romantic movies in which the starring couple regularly and openly vowed "I love you" in
front of the public. Indiscreetly vowing these intimacies seemed to have initiated the devaluation
process in our languages. And in a next step the music, which was soon to follow the film,
accelerated disintegration by overwhelming the post-war-generation with love songs.
The love-verb suffered and lost some of its profile. People started loving pizzas, chicken-legs and
car racing or even vanilla ice cream. "I love you" was being cried down to "Baby Love". As a young
lad I learned to use the verb "love" to describe anything I liked and to use the word "love" in
communicating with complete strangers.

At my first dancing dates love already had been transferred into a cliché, worn out and useless for
serious, emotional affairs. "I love you" must have lost its original sense and already sounded
ridiculous. How were we supposed to express our deepest feelings after our words had been
mutilated so badly into farces?

"I love you" was being used in advertising new cars and for soft drinks. The inflationary abuse in
our language and the devaluation of values made me feel sad. De-valuating words seemed to
infiltrate the brains, spreading fatigue and burning out the nerves. It triggered the young ones to feel
depressed and tired.

But who was to be made responsible for devaluing our words? We already knew to protect
devaluation of our money by hiring expensively overpaid bankers. Now who was in charge in
stabilizing our language? Who is going to fight the verbal misuse in court?
In fact we all might be guilty in devaluing our own words by extensively buying "I love you"-
records and romantic love-magazines...

I remember to have felt the pressure to say "I love you" for the very first time. In those days I heard
some of the guys reporting their love-affairs and the strange experience in describing deep feelings
by a simple word "love". All "lovers" proudly described phases, which we were allowed to monitor
from nearby. Love seemed to behave like butterflies, making you feel like regularly entering heaven
or ... hell!

There was one thing I learned from these stories: love cannot be raised to any higher summits! As
soon as you have used the word you will have to repeat it again and again, at any state of mind - in
the highs and in the depressive lows. You will learn to repeat the word up to a level of ridiculous
incredibility.

I imagined how to express loving feelings in depressive phases, observing my friends gradually
being divorced from their deeply loved ones. And I seemed to be the last guy to be engaged to a
girlfriend, to be acquainted to you. You were wonderful, wearing long, black hair, rolling and
flowing over your young and tender breasts. You had blue eyes, sparkling at my glance and I expect
these sparkles to be the last impressions to my mind...

I tried to avoid the worn-out word "love" and started searching for equivalents. The word I was
looking for certainly had nothing to do with ice cream, new cars or any advertisement. Indeed it
should definitely be referring to blue eyes and long, black hair... This seemed to be important to me.
Those days we did hear Bob Dylan's ballads. These shared songs were to be implemented in the
new word, as we seemed to be sharing emotions by songs.

Above all you had to be included in the word I was looking for. Each and every emotion, each
single word we exchanged had to be stored inside. I thought of a word containing each singular
kiss, each finger-touch, as well as our children growing in your corpse. Now the word started
swelling, became pregnant and soon announced birth itself.
However I still had been refusing to say "I love you". Instead I tried to express feelings in other
ways. I did spend every free minute at your side and one day I did buy you 21 roses for your
birthday although you went on holidays with your parents the very next day.

I remember I did not expect the words "I love you" from your lips. After so many years this phrase
might have raised strange feelings in our relation. We loved each other without ever using these
ridiculous vows and our love grew by and by.

We have loved more than forty years without ever needing the phrase "I love you". But I have
always been watching our heart's pounding rhythm. I never seemed to be able to quit searching for
the Word, covering creation. There must be a Master Word representing the eternal cycle of life.

I understood the both of us, U and I, are surviving in our children by unification in these sweet
reunions we also called "love" and I understood to read the capital letters I for myself and U for You
as hieroglyphic symbols. And the word I was looking for would have to refer to reuniting U and I in
"IU". There seemed to be no need for anything else. From this single word we might derive any
other word, including blue eyes, black hair, chocolate ice cream, fast cars, and anything else...

I quickly learned we did not invent this word. The word already had existed for centuries. We
simply lost it for some time. And just because nobody is interested and it does not accelerate
business people will soon forget the word again. Folks will still be whispering "I love you" every
other day. Some day however they will see these words may be phony. They will divorce and start
new relations referring to the same pattern. It will not help them to exchange partners. They will
have to keep on searching until they have found the word again. This word is so simple and so
beautiful! It must have been stored in our hearts forever. Right now I feel like explaining the word
to U all! I will have to tell U as soon as I return home....

===================================================================

This short story basically follows: Dream, lover of mine (Icelandic: "Sofdu ást mín") written by
Andri Snaer Magnason (born 1973) from an unpublished manuscript and translated to German by
Viola Lensch, found in the German book "Flügelrauschen". However Andri Snaer Magnason does
not explicitly explain the word he found!

(Written down 6:00 - 8:00 at 24.6.2008 in Vellir, Petursey, Myrdalur, 871 Vik, Iceland)

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