All? Yes, All (Again)

by Chikashi

I blogged this about 5 years ago, but given the rise in ‘love conquers all’ chatter during the Valentines season, I am reproducing it here:

I recently overheard a conversation that I have previously heard or overheard time and again.  It has confounded me for years.  Decades.  It is about two people in love who are faced with seemingly insurmountable hurdle of some sort, whether it is the great physical distance between the two, uncompromising objection from the parents, financial hardship, illness et cetera.  There is usually a flattering comment or two about the couple.  Then, out of nowhere, someone else says, ‘As they say, love conquers all, right?  They’ll overcome it eventually.’

The second ‘they’ clearly refers to the couple whose predicament is being discussed.  Apparently, it is also interchangeable with ‘love’.  The first ‘they’:  who are these people?

The question arises because, given the context of the conversation, it is clear that ‘all’ means ‘everything’.

There are many authors and poets, from Dante to Shakespeare, who paraphrased ‘Love conquers all’ throughout the centuries.  It is a recurring theme; it pops up in so many different countries, in so many books that it is virtually impossible to go through school without encountering at least one example.  Some of these books have been adapted on the big screen as well as the gogglebox, so even if one does not read any books, the theme is virtually unavoidable in most parts of the world.

By ‘all’, these writers invariably meant ‘everyone’, not ‘everything’.  Sooner or later, everyone falls in love.  So, how did ‘everything’ come into the picture?  Some of these authors are creative but not THAT creative.  Who introduced it?  And, what makes people subscribe to the ‘everything’ version?  It has a whiff of religious fundamentalism.  Whatever the answer, it is all rather romantic.  I suppose.

In the meantime, the more literary romantics amongst us have other questions to ponder.  Keats is an anagram for steak.  Given that he was not a very confident fellow, could it be possible that he was a vegetarian or a vegan?

‘No kidney pie for me, Fanny.’
‘I spent hours making it, you silly tw*t!’

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