Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Amo Amas Amat

Love is an invention that makes sex possible for beleaguered Homo sapiens. Without consciousness, the trait that differentiates man from beast, we would never know what sex is. But consciousness is a two-edged sword to the extent that it acts as a filter that gets in the way of the free expression of animal desire. Even pigs, which are deemed to be among the most intelligent creatures on the planet, rarely scrutinize their partners. Farmers depend on that fact. If pigs, cows or sheep began to be exclusive, then the famine that is already fact in certain parts of the world would spread. Malthus notwithstanding, it’s astonishing that the human species has grown to its current population explosion, since men and women make themselves jump through hoops in order to bring about the consummation of desire. If the movement of idealization from the tribal to the individual context (with diminution of arranged marriage and the advent of choice) represents an evolution of culture, it’s also a baroque curiosity that verges on the grotesque. Instinct is the prime mover, but all this trouble, all these masks, all the twists and turns of this thing we call sensibility—all for the sake of a good shag? What percentage of human suffering is devoted to the broken heart? Disease, illness and death are painful parts of life, but love is the worst. Weeks, months and years are lost in regret for love lost, or in anticipation of a perfection that is never to be found. If only we could be young again, but armed with the insight that love is just the outfit that sex is dressed in.


  1. It's even deeper than that. As in politics, the issue or faction that makes the most noise is not always most pervasive. So (fortunately) romantic love does not call the tune, although it may call for it.

    The myth of romantic love (I believe) actually evolved as a means to allow unbridled sexual activity, in a milieu where other forces acted to constrain it. Built into every species are the equivalents of accelerator and brake pedal, which act to encourage or constrain reproduction, to balance population within an ecosystem. (Religion and societal mores are the brakes applied to the reproduction of human beings, and address our higher cortical and long-term memory development.)

    Romantic love justifies unlimited copulation, so long as it is with the love object. The myth might look like a series of hoops to jump through, but it actually helps circumvent the chasm-jumping imposed by more severe restrictions.

    As you pointed out, however, romantic love also leads to much heartache, especially when it is sold to everyone as the "majority view." Unrequited love and the pining for same afflict many. Fortunately for the human race, sex also wears another suit of clothes: not so glamorous as romance, perhaps, nor as beautiful, but perfectly suited to everyday work -- solid friendship that grows into a blend of love and physical attraction, ideal for developing a lifetime bond.

    The only trouble with this type of love is that it needs better press and PR; it doesn't get nearly enough mention in art and literature. It's time to pass the word to our young; perhaps they'd be spared some needless pain.

  2. I take exception to yr notion that romantic love leads to unlimited copulation. This would be a bit of a burden on the autonomic nervous system, nein? Unlimited copulation would be like being sentenced to the electric chair. Can you imagine fucking on an unlimited basis, your brains would be fried. All best Francis


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