Love as Concealment
"Love is the ultimate indiscretion.... knowledge about love is not like knowledge about cabbages, which do not mind being known about. Love is constituted through the dual process of mutual exposure (between lovers) combined with concealment (from everybody else). To discuss love at all as a topic for research papers is in some ways to contradict the essence of love. Of course, I know that many loving couples conduct themselves in a very amorous way in public; but nonetheless these public displays only serve to hint at much more spectacular and shameful goings-on which take place behind closed doors. I know too that when questioned by researchers individuals and couples will speak at length, and often with alarming frankness, about their sex-lives. But these confessions are made, usually, with the assurance that the information divulged will never be traced back to the individuals concerned and will, with luck, be tucked away from public gaze in statistical tables published in journals only read by desiccated academics, who might as well come from outer space. Moreover, the social-scientific confessional mode deals with sex, rather than love, which I regard as somewhat distinct. What I consider impossible is that social scientific interrogation will ever be able to unearth true, authentic, love-secrets, just because once such secrets are surrendered to the public they are automatically devalued. When one of Princess Diana’s lovers goes public, he is disqualified as a lover and becomes a cad and an exploiter. What can such a person tell us of love, since he is obviously incapable of it? Hence we can never know about love because the process of coming to know about love, from the third-party standpoint, annihilates the very entity about which we seek to know."
Alfred Gell, On Love