“Love” in Jazz

In my last post, I was thinking about the three categories of love that Dante splits Purgatory into: Misdirected Love, Deficient Love, and Excessive Love. I’ve been trying to compare this to how Morrison uses love in Jazz. So last night I became the human “control + F” and scanned through Jazz, trying to find every use of “love.” What I found was that the word love often was described with an adjective; and (get this!) in a book supposedly about “couple love,” according to Morrison’s forward, the word itself was used WAY more in the beginning of the novel. I haven’t quite figured out where I’d place that in terms of connections to how Dante uses love, but I figured I’d share the ways in which Morrison uses the word here:

love, loves, love nest, lovemaking, loved, alive love, loving, free but illegal love, new love, loving, lover, outlaw love, possible love, I love you, Love you, young loving, first and major love, benevolent love, love scenes, old-time love, public love

I don’t exactly know what to do with all that, but I found it really interesting to see the ways Morrison takes and almost manipulates this one very important word. Like Dante, Morrison characterizes love in many ways and I think each of those different kind of loves have a different meaning/purpose.

My last thought for this post goes back to those three states of love from Purgatory: Misdirected Love, Deficient Love, and Excessive Love. I was trying to think of examples for each of those in Jazz and I feel like they aren’t so separate after all. This brings me back to the idea of motion, especially cyclic and circular motion (this is such a trend in Morrison’s work, I think). These categories of love are all intertwined and loop around each other so much. In certain relationships, one character may have “excessive love” for another, and if it isn’t reciprocated, that could be considered “deficient love.” “Misdirected love” can definitely also be “excessive love.” One quick example would be the parrot (and those parts I found much sadder this time reading) who says “I love you” and Violet lets him go, not so much out of love, but out of anger? sadness? There’s a lot to unpack there, but I think all three of those love categories are present in that relationship– and only one of those characters is human! Imagine how much there is to analyze in relationships between two people, which of course are so abundant in Jazz.

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