Tuesday, 19 December 2006

Modern Times

One of the symptoms of modern times is the way that love as a general quantity has become so thoroughly personalised and sexualised. It’s about me and the person I want to fuck. It’s there to fulfil me, and it finds expression in my fucking, because that enables passion, excitement, danger, piquancy, ego-reinforcement and sexual pleasure. It’s, frankly, hard to beat. Most of us would of course acknowledge that family-love is also an important part of life: but it is something that seems to have been very sharply separated out from the eros-love. This leads to a number of awkwardnesses—for most of us come to sexual maturity within families, and therefore find ourselves experiencing the sometimes uncomfortable frictions of different and incompatible modalities of loving at work upon us. Best get the hell out of there, maybe: find yourself a girlfriend/boyfriend, find your own space and get down to it. These are the times we find ourselves filled with a disproportionate and rather nameless dread at the prospect of our own parents having sex (ugh! I don’t want to think about it!) On a cultural level, and lancing more sharply into the tender spots of the collective psyche, a mass hysteria has accumulated around the distressing subject of child-abuse. Sex and the family become increasingly so immiscible as to begin actively threatening one another. This really is not a healthy state of affairs.

‘Love has been personalised and sexualised in the past 200 years, and that process has been in part responsible for cutting the ties which bind individuals to a social sense, and an understanding (and acceptance) of her or his part in society. When we started to think of love in terms of romance, of sexual desire, and above all of a lifelong entitlement to both experiences, then we effectively turned away from engagement with the intimately social question of the impact of our actions upon others. Thus we can (and obviously do) theorize extensively about the ‘breakdown’ of the family and the rise of the single-person society, but until we address the beliefs that motivate and inspire these changes we examine only the consequences rather than the causes’ [Mary Evans, Love: an Unromantic Discussion (Polity 2006), 123]

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