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Don’t by eAeon and RM: Separation and Scheler’s Phenomenology of Love

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Ashoka chapter.

Edited by: Sanjana Hira 

Singer-songwriter eAeon collaborated with RM from BTS on Don’t, a song about separation and longing. The track features on his album Fragile and came out on 30 April, 2021. The following is an analysis of the English translation of the lyrics by Genius and an exploration of how Scheler’s philosophy on love maps onto the lyrics.

The song begins with expressing a feeling of denial, “Don’t talk, not yet/ I know what you’re about to say/ Don’t avoid my eyes/ Please, don’t do that.” The lyrics point to a desire to sustain the moment before the eventual separation is spoken out loud and thereby made real. The singer appeals to the beloved by saying that “Our home is here, it’s us.” By comparing their love to a home, a resting place, the singer yet again tries to make the lover stay. 

The aspirational aspect of love is also made apparent in “This can’t be the end of us/ So many things left undone.” By invoking the future and what can become of them, the singer tries to halt the breakage that’s already set in motion through the averting of the beloved’s gaze. Scheler’s Phenomenology of Love states that the lover senses a horizon of value, that love always includes a sense of expectation (163). Here, this expectation forms an anchor that tries to sustain the relationship.

The song draws on the imagery of waves to express the internal turmoil faced by the lover as well as the beloved, “What color are waves/ White as snow when they break/ Did you survive the drift ok/ Still as a pebble, could you stay.” Even as the separation nears its completion, there is an expression of care and a last request to stay, moored like a pebble. The allusion to snow also communicates frigidity, a tactile sensation that matches the feelings that arise when one leaves or is left alone. 

“Don’t take away the name only you know.”

When the lover calls the beloved, the name gets invested with all that they share; mutual experiences and moments become the meaning that the name conveys. When the relationship is lost, a part of the person is also ripped away; the loss of the other is also a loss of one’s own self. This is quite a Hegelian exploration of an individual’s position in a relationship that’s nearing its end. Scheler also reminds us of the same, in saying that consciousness is always intentional, that the subject and object, or, in personal relations, subject and subject, are essentially related; they mutually require one another (162).

“I don’t need magic/ I hate any wildflowers/ Don’t be new/ Just be here.” The lover expresses the desire for things to stay the same, that he isn’t asking for anything extraordinary or any objects of romanticization, just that which they’d had, for the beloved to stay. This is followed up with an allusion to the previous metaphor of home, “Don’t leave/ There’s no place like home.” This adage shines in a new light when thought of in terms of love. The comfort of each other is said to be as precious as home, the place where one begins the journey of life. Through this comparison, the idea of separation from the beloved as detachment from one’s own self is enhanced: when home is lost, the self drifts unmoored. Scheler explains this phenomenon by calling love the “root of the spirit,” that it precedes or grounds our theoretical and practical acts. There is a common thread of placing love in the position of a root, a home, a beginning.

The song ends with repeated pleadings. The refrain of “Don’t, don’t leave/ Don’t abandon everything/ Please, don’t” only amplifies the wretched cold feeling left by abandonment. In leaving ‘everything,’ the beloved not only ends that which was built together but also fragments the being of the lover.

Third year English undergraduate at Ashoka