The question of whether robots and computers can love is at least as complex as defining love itself; poets and greeting card writers have been grappling with that one for ages. The question of digital love hinges on the effectiveness of artificial intelligence (A.I.) and the ability of A.I. to give rise to emotions. In the course of predicting true A.I. in the early 1950s, computer scientist Alan Turing developed the Turing Test, a tool to assess whether a machine’s intelligence is indistinguishable from a human being’s. A.I.s have come a long way since, making Turing’s test a blunt instrument, but not settling issues of whether they can feel. But if Hollywood is any indication, we can be sure of this at least: humans can love machines—sometimes tragically. In the Sci-Fi classic Blade Runner, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) falls for the Replicant femme fatale Rachel (Sean Young), challenging his sworn duty to “retire” Replicants who try to pass for human. More recently, Her has Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) becoming enamored of his sophisticated new OS, Samantha (seductively voiced by Scarlett Johanssen). Their affair is all the more surreal for the fact that “Samantha” is a disembodied A.I. with no physical form. Hollywood continues to be infatuated with the question of A.I. love, offering dark cautionary tales like Ex Machina (2015). We may be fated to fall in love with the computers that we interact with every day, but can they love us back? I tried this simple experiment: I asked Siri on my iPhone “do you love me?” With analytic coolness and a dash of irony, she replied, “you’re looking for love in all the wrong places.”
Indeed, she does! In fair Verona where we lay our scene, the volunteer Secretaries of il Club di Giulietta (the Juliet Club) receive, read, and respond to more than 6,000 letters from the lovelorn each year. Think of it as “Dear Abby” with a Shakespearean inspiration. Believe it or not, you can pen your desires, romantic dreams, and tragic tales of unrequited love, address them simply to “Juliet / Verona,” and they’ll be delivered to the Club’s team of concerned cupids. The Secretaries read every one, save them in an archive, and send a handwritten response to the author with encouragement and advice for how to mend a broken heart. If you’re not into the pen-and-paper approach, you can pour your heart out digitally in a note via the Club’s website. Whatever form it takes, your letter will play a role in a centuries-old romantic tradition inspired by the Bard’s timeless tale of star-crossed lovers.
Juliet Capulet Print | $110-180
Odes to love are almost as old as language and love itself. For many years, the Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon) from the Old Testament of the Bible was widely considered to be the earliest poetic tribute to matters of the heart. But in 1951, Sumerologist Samuel Noah Kramer found an older ode on a cuneiform tablet from the excavation of the Mesopotamian city of Nineveh. It had been unearthed in the mid-nineteenth century but put in a drawer until Kramer rediscovered it. When he translated it, Kramer found the tablet contains the Love Song for Shu-Sin (c. 2,000 BCE), part of an annual rite known as the “sacred marriage.” Sounds pretty tame and ceremonial, right? Guess again—it’s actually pretty steamy stuff, offering lines like You have captivated me, let me stand tremblingly before you. Bridegroom, I would be taken by you to the bedchamber…Lion, I would be taken by you to the bedchamber. So, before Solomon’s lover likened his lady to “a mare among Pharaoh’s chariot horses”—and a couple of millennia before slow jams—the Neo-Assyrians were heating things up with a love song for the ages.
Valentine’s Day is a chance to show your someone special that they’re always on your mind. A card with a big, red heart smack-dab in the middle is a nice place to start, but these less-conventional gifts are perfect for taking it to the next level, at any stage in your love story.
A Twist on the Traditional
We’re not saying you should skip the chocolate, because chocolate is delicious, but adding one of these more unexpected Valentine’s Day gifts is sweet AND original!
You’re in love. You want to shout from the rooftops and immortalize this epic romance by carving your initials into everything. Show your affection without excessive noise or vandalism with a stunning Personalized Love Birch Cuff instead.
Flowers are a safe bet for Valentine’s Day. But, as the old saying goes, presentation is everything! | Hanging Heart Vase
Show your partner that when it comes to love, you’re game. | Joystick Future Fossil
If you’re going to give her your heart, make sure it’s anatomically correct. | Anatomical Heart Pendant
You already tell her she’s beautiful every day, but this little message is a nice added reminder. | You Are Beautiful Earring Bowl
Send the Message
From “Hey, I think you’re cute,” to flirtatious first date banter, to deep “You complete me” conversations, relationships are all about communication. Here are a few ways to say “Be my Valentine” that blow conversation hearts right out of the candy dish.
“I love you” and “Happy Valentine’s Day” will get even bigger smiles when they come from Lil’ Mib.
Saucy texts are fun and all, but a handwritten love letter is really something special. This Love Letter Kit even comes with calligraphy instructions for those with less-than-fabulous handwriting.
And if you don’t find the right words on the first try, Crumple The Make-It-Yourself Bear is the perfect place to stuff your less-than-perfect drafts.
What better way to say “let’s get cozy together” than a little knitting? | Love Yarn Bowl
Our Love Story-A Journal, because your romance is one for the books.
Speaking of books, sometimes what’s in the pages can surprise you. Stash a little treasure in the Heart Book Box to let your Valentine in on the secret.
We know that you love each other no matter what, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a little extra sparkle on your big date night. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
Clean up while you man up with this no-nonsense, vegan grooming collection. | Men’s Military Field Grooming Kit
If you’re planning a destination Valentine’s Day (lucky!), or looking to recreate your favorite spa experience, this portable set is a must-have to achieve that head-turning glow. | Spa in a Bag
Look sharp without rushing around trying to find those pesky collar stays! | Collar Stay Punch
Let your accessories speak for themselves. | My Heart is Always Yours Necklace
Romantic Evening In
Whether you’re cooking a candlelit dinner together, or ordering in from your favorite spot, these goods will set the mood for a delicious, cozy evening with your favorite person.
Because this special night is all about savoring “you & me” quality time. | Cheese & Crackers Serving Board
Take another little pizza my heart now, baby. | PI(Z*Z)A Stone
You might not be able to explain your bond, but you know it’s strong. Cheers to finding that allusive chemistry! | Molecular Flutes
You share everything else, so why not cozy up to your favorite snacks together? | Ooma Bowl
For all of the hopeless romantics who are guilty of being drunk on crazy, beautiful, intoxicating love. | “You’re Intoxicating” Heart Bottle Opener
You know how all that romance makes you feel sort of…sexy? Go with it.
Set the mood by getting crafty together, and then ignite the flames. | DIY Soy Candle Kit
Incorporating cuisine into an intimate evening doesn’t have to be cheesy. Throw some chocolate in the Fondue for Two pot for an extra-enjoyable dessert.
Tease the taste buds with the AromaFork kit and let your senses of taste and smell have a little rendezvous their own.
Love can be a little messy, but in this case, that’s a good thing. Get a little dirty, make sweet art, and have almost as much fun cleaning up afterward. | Love is Art Kit
Wake Up Together
The stars have aligned, and Valentine’s Day is finally falling on a Saturday this year! Here are some essentials to enjoy a sweet, relaxing morning with your special someone.
Two soy lovebirds with an extra shot of espresso, coming right up! | Love Bird Coffee and Tea Cup Set
Your Valentine might not love mushy songs first thing in the morning. Here’s a more subtle way to say “you’re the wind beneath my wings.” | First Light
At the end of the day–and the beginning of the day–it’s the thoughts that count. | What I Love About You By Me Book
Happily Ever After
Whether you’re newlyweds or a self-proclaimed “old married couple,” Valentine’s Day is another chance to show that the spark is still there. (And it’s stronger than ever!)
Marriage isn’t exactly a destination, but it is a pretty exciting point in your journey together. Celebrate the Intersection of Love with personalized art.
You’ll always have each other to hold. Consider these glasses to hold your wine. | Have & Hold Stemless Wine Glasses
Now you can literally earn points with your spouse. | Marital Bliss Game
A rolling stone gathers no moss, but a happy marriage just might. | Love Grows Here Terrarium
Love a Little (One)
Cupid might not be aiming for your fur babies or newborn babies, but how could you possibly resist? These tokens will be sure to show your adorable Valentines what you mean when you gush “I love you!”
Time for your baby’s first Valentine’s Day? Cover those cute little toes with x’s and o’s! | XO Booties
More meow-worthy than Meow Mix, this sweet dessert is sure to satisfy the sassiest of kittens! | Catnip Chocolate Covered Strawberries
As if your pups needs another reason to glaze you with kisses. | Squeaky Dog Donuts
Check out this collection of gifts to help the lovebirds ruffle their feathers and dress their home, as picked out by the creator of The Nest.