5. Where Is the Love (and who put it There)?

Anyone up for some real 4th of July pyrotechnics? The next Big Ticket Item that needs Big Time Scrutiny is Love.

People, we’ve been sold a bill of goods, and boy how we’ve bought it… The lengths we will go to deify our comforts knows no bounds and is epitomized in our worship of love. Love has become the new religion, and the new opiate, and nowhere is it more distorting to our senses (and thus our sense of reality) than in the realm of sex. So, in order to anchor into intelligent synthesis, we’ve got to get out from under the influence and go through some mental rehab.

Following is a patchwork of material excerpted from my unpublished yet completed book (Hot Blooded: A Sexual Resurrection):

Even though it’s bejeweled with ornate decoration and drowning in such sweet perfumes, I smell a rat called “love”. Now, love is a lovely emotion— who can argue with that? — but it is an emotion, and emotional states are constantly in flux within the dynamic biochemical slurry of the multifaceted human organism. They cannot, and should not, be forced and controlled. They must only be observed, expressed, valued appropriately, and allowed to pass through.

Nevertheless, love has been taken far beyond its practical status of a capricious emotion to represent the ideal of a universal constant. Because of its socially benign attributes, love has been glorified, deified, canonized and otherwise exalted among almost all sections of humanitarian, philanthropic, religious and spiritual circles. Yet, once love is a socially defined entity, and controlled accordingly, it sets up some pretty strong boundaries. Think of the possessiveness of lovers, often manifest as militant monogamy, the ferocious anger inspired by the love of another God, or the exclusivity of familial love. Just how much violence, subtle or extreme, has resulted from jealous love is immeasurable. The reason is simple: struggling to control the uncontrollable is always going to backfire violently. It is practically a law of nature.

As a society, we are addicted to love. This humble little emotion has been singled out to represent the panacea of all ills. In Sex At Dawn, Christopher Ryan states, “Sometimes called ‘nature’s ecstasy’, oxytocin is important in pro-social feelings like compassion, trust, generosity, love, and yes, eroticism.” But, the way most of us humans have arranged our current cultures effectively puts our most pro-social behaviors under lock and key. We have linguistically, and ideologically, defined intimacy as sex and then buried that sexuality so deeply under so much moral rubbish that we’ll be damned if we can locate either one in any pristine condition. And then, of all things, we have the audacity to complain about all the violence and dream about world peace as though that could, and should, simply materialize out of thin air.

It is of utmost importance to recognize and accept, carte blanche, that the hormones of sex are not at all exclusive to a certain special somebody. They are universal and indifferent to such trivial parameters (and, incidentally, serve us much better as a species if shared more openly on a much broader scale).

While the pleasant biochemical sensation we call “love” may provide the social advantage of a sense of interpersonal connection, it only gets turned into the doctrinal directive toward exclusivity in a cultural environment that condemns a liberal sexuality, confines expressions of interpersonal intimacy, and values the isolated nuclear family over all else as its moral and economic foundation. It doesn’t mean we have to throw out marriage and monogamy altogether, but it does mean— if we are to handle ourselves in the sexual domain with a greater degree of intelligent awareness, satisfaction and well-being— that we really do have to question the institution, to understand how all of this works, and to cut ourselves some serious slack in the doctrinal department.

I’m risking it all here in order to point out why it is such a tricky proposition to even suggest that love, to speak the most truly and clearly, has nothing to do with sex. The suggestion puts into the crosshairs one of the most profoundly cherished fundamentals of moral and ethical conviction.

Because of the preeminent approbation of “love”, it has been used— and abused— for justification, glorification, accommodation and circumscription of the otherwise “dubious” affairs of the flesh. So to get out, once and for all, from under the umbrella of the sex-negative mindset, that whole reeking construct has to be ignited, incinerated, detonated.

Then sit back and enjoy the show!


5 thoughts on “5. Where Is the Love (and who put it There)?”

  1. Two things:
    (1) I am amazed, in watching movies, how everything can be justified by “true love,” although it’s unclear what the hell that is. In Legend, taking a human to touch a unicorn, and thus jeopardizing everything, is hastily dismissed when it is announced it was done out of “true love.” In The Princess Bride, it is never explained why Buttercup is Westley’s “true love,” yet it’s just accepted. And so this brings up the second point…
    (2) What is love? Is it simply a “pleasant biochemical sensation”? It’s one thing to separate love, sex and intimacy – that doesn’t seem like such a risky proposition, even though we use “being intimate” and “making love” as euphemisms for having sex. But if love is nothing more than a feeling akin to heartburn or nausea, doesn’t that call for a far greater examination than just whether we’re confusing love and sex? The entire concept of love would then require a radical deconstruction. And where would that leave us?

    1. To those (mostly males) who have not been brainwashed to believe that sex must be defined in emotional terms of love and romance (females, most ardently), no, it is no biggie to separate sex and love. You are lucky to be in the former category! Training women to emotionalize sex like this is one of the most sneaky and successful modern ways female sexuality is manipulated into constraint. (While conservative sexual morality strives to constrain all sexuality, it is still females who bear the brunt of it.)

      And, yes, a radical deconstruction of our overblown concept of love has implications of great range and magnitude. Venturing down this rabbit hole is sure to promise a wonderland of discovery with vastly enlightening results. Only when we ask (and truly attempt to answer) the very pointed question, “What is love?”, do we have the opportunity to peek beneath the veneer of our assumption that we know exactly what it is. Then we must acknowledge how vague a word it really is.

      The problem is that this vagueness allows it to be badly abused, as in the case of sexuality. As heinous atrocities are borne out in the name of God, the deification of love paves the way for a similar trajectory. When the consensus is that love, like God, is not to be questioned, all you have to do is slap its name on any agenda you wish to legitimize, and whee!, you’re off to the (unicorn) races.

      We love our parents, our kids, our pets. We love thrillers, sports and ice cream. If we’re Christian we are told to love our neighbors, although this command meant something very different in its original context. If we’re Buddhist we’re told to love, through loving kindness, all sentient beings, although this (metta meditation), too, was originally a technique designed for a very specific, and limited, context. (You should be getting a sense of the abysmal ambiguity forming here.)

      In our everyday lives, “love” is mostly a term that defines relationships of great attachment and investment. Some of these relationships involve people who deeply care for and attend to the well-being of one another, many others involve people who have little to no capacity for such nurturance. While we tend to hold these kinds of relationships under a consistent subject heading (i.e. “loved ones”), the feeling of love itself is another matter. Feelings come and go and, in this sense, love really is nothing more than a pleasant biochemical sensation (based upon a certain mix of psychological and emotional conditions versus the more purely physiological conditions that cause heartburn, but not necessarily any less ephemeral). Maybe if we weren’t so busy defining, defending and policing the obligations of love, we could enjoy the sensation more frequently and more fully!

      To answer your question, I believe that radically deconstructing our concept of love (and unburdening it of its weighty duties) will leave us much more clear headed and open hearted. Then we’ll be better equipped to handle our lives (certainly our sexuality, and ultimately our humanity) with greater sensibility, personal freedom and joy.

      Thank you so much for your comments, Glen!

      1. Karin — deconstructing the concept of love will cause a destruction of society as we have become accustomed to knowing it. It is one of the key lynch pins that society uses for keeping its sheep in the corral. If you obliterate it, you let all the sheep roam free, and society does not look kindly on freedom (once you get beyond the banter of banalities). This is why the deconstruction will only happen individually (a single sheep can escape the corral occasionally), or, if it does happen en mass, that could only look like the total death of that society (which implies a serious revolution of major proportions). Society will not lie back quietly. If it goes at all, it will only be kicking and screaming. However, it will be well worth the fight.

        1. Yes, as we are society, the deconstruction of the concepts upon which we base our functioning will alter society as we are accustomed to knowing it. On a purely theoretical basis, I would not argue the idea that “revolutionary” ideas can “destroy” society. But in reality, because fighting the good fight at any real depth is a pretty solitary endeavor (as you point out), especially if you’re in it for the long haul, the sheep begin to drop like flies, thus averting the theoretical catastrophe. There are always plenty of cogs in the wheel to keep it going.

          Even in the sixties, when free sex and free love ideals swept massively across the social landscape, disrupting (and achieving) much, the effect was far from destroying civilization. It was the cool thing then. But fashions change and, in the current environment, what I’m talking about garners little sensation among thrill seekers. What I’m pointing to is a sanely grounded process of intelligent deconstruction and synthesis. If a revolution like the ’60’s (when people really went off the deep end— en masse) didn’t cause our demise, then surely my iconoclastic blogging poses little apocalyptic threat!

    2. Glen — about the heartburn nausea business — if it were only that simple. As Karin points out in her response, there is a little more to the love response than just the physiological stuff. Maybe take some Tums and it goes away. But we would have an extremely hard time answering ANY question that started with “What is (fill in your favorite emotion)”. There is no real answer to that question. Its like asking someone what does the color blue look like. There is a definition of blue based upon the wavelength. But someone’s response to blue has got little to do with the wavelength (as at least color blind people could tell you). The problem with emotions is that they are not possible to define in any terms that everyone (anyone?) can agree on. So the actual problem is really about what both you and Karin have been pointing to — the whole edifice upon which this idea of love has been built to begin with. This is one swamp I wish Trump would actually drain. Its been a long time in coming — and we are still probably millennia away from people being intelligent enough to recognize the importance of dealing with this. In the meantime, don’t see many people happy for any real length of time. Ah, such is life in Costa Rica.

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