“Tatyana nodded at the six. ‘Young love.’ Her voice had a serrated edge.
‘Wouldn’t you change places with them, if you could?’
‘Why on earth woud I want to do that?’
‘They look so fine, and young, and wrapped up in each other. Love is so fresh and clean at that age. Don’t you think?’
‘Margarita! I’m surprised at you! We both know there’s no such thing as love.’
‘What do you call it?’
Tatyana snuffed out her cigarette. That sly smile. ‘Mutations of wanting‘.
‘You’re not serious’.
‘I am quite serious. Look at those kids. The boy wants to get the girls to bed so they can have the corks popped off their bottles, and gush forth. When a man blows his nose you don’t call it love. Why get all misty-eyed when a man blows another part of his anatomy? As of for the girls, they’re either going along for the ride because they can get things they want from their boys, or else maybe they enjoy being in bed too. Though I doubt it. I never knew an eighteen-year-old boy who didn’t drop the egg off his spoon at the first fence’.
‘But that’s lust! You’re talking about lust, not love.’
‘Lust is the hard sell. Love is the soft sell. The profit margin is exactly the same.’
‘But love’s the opposite of self-interest. True, tender, love is pure and selfless.’
‘No. True, tender love is self-interest so sinewy that it only looks selfless.’
‘I’ve known love – I know love – and it is giving and not taking. We’re not just animals.’
‘We’re only animals. What does the Head Curator give to you?’.
‘I’m not talking about him.’
‘Whoever. But think. Why do you think any man really loves you? If you’re honest with yourself Margarita, the answer will be that he stands to gain in some way. Tell me. Why does he love you, and why do you love him back?’
I shook my head. ‘We’re talking about love. There is no “why”. That’s the point’.
‘There is always a “why”, because there is always something that the beloved wants. It might be that he protects you. It might be that he makes you feel special. It might be that he is a way out, a route to some shining future away from the dreary now. It might be that he is the father of you unborn babies. Or it might be that he gives you prestige. Love is a big knot of whys.’ ”
– Ghostwritten by David Mitchell, Chapter 6: Petersburg, page 229-230.