The Impossibility of Love

January 25, 2010

  “”The impossibility of love“ – that was the title of a talk (and a book) that caught my eye at the Frankfurt book fair last October. I was hooked, it sounded compelling. A tall, energetic woman introduced herself as an Anthropologist and the author and immediately announced, in frank German fashion, that she was out to provoke us. She definitely succeeded – the group of listeners grew very quiet and very insecure even before she had finished her introduction.

The thesis of the book is that love, romantic love, is simply a social construct, created to tame our sexual drive and keep men and women together just long enough to allow our very slowly maturing young to develop enough to begin looking out for themselves, which means about seven years. (You have heard of the seven year itch, right?) The author proceeded to break down one romatic myth after the other, recounting customs from other cultures to show, how very relative and culturally conditioned everything we think about this topic is. There are, for example, studies, who show that people in arranged marriages are not necessarily less happy than those, who take their pick in the sex-and-the-city- environment of today. Other cultures view falling in love as a disease (and you have to give it to them, the experience often resembles a bout of addiction, rather than any kid of conscious engagement – which is probably the very reason we like it so much.)

 The conclusion, the author draws is that the most helpful thing do is to drop the idea of romantic fulfillment with one person, of finding a partner for life and instead have a succession of monogamous relationships, about seven years at a time.

“Does that mean we shouldn’t watch romantic movies,“ a clearly shattered fourty-something-year old man next to me asked in the Q&A period. “We shouldn’t fall in love anymore?“

 It was absolutely eye-opening to see, how frightening and unsettling it is for us to even begin to question the deeply held belief that some time, some where, some one, is going to fulfill us. Even though the reality all around us teaches us a much more complex picture, it’s still a dream we don’t want to let go of. Spiritual teacher Andrew Cohen calls it the ‘Promise of Perfection’.

I appreciated the authors call to question which forces are really at work when we fall in love, simply because such strange things happen to us when we do and such a mess gets created more often than not. Are we as in control of what happens as we think we are? (Whether we want to be is another question alltogether) But her conclusions seemed to leave out a big part of our humanity – what about our capacity to build trust, intimacy and commitment beyond the initial hormonal bursts. To, potentially, actually be rational even in this area of life (does that sound boring?) Somehow she seemed to imply, that all of that was just as dependent on our sexual desire as the original attraction. And that reduces humans to a very mechanistic species, which truly, we are not. It just seems that we have taken to mistaking irrational and pre-programmed behaviors and tendencies as that which makes us truly human.  And once they get exposed, we are left wondering if we are simply walking machines……So I am trying to find out in my own relationship what it means to go beyond those conditioned tracks and see, what we’ll find there.

I very much appreciate your thoughts and comments!

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5 Responses to “The Impossibility of Love”

  1. sexliebesinn Says:

    Hi Uli, good to read this blog. Lately I have been going up and down with emotional ups and downs of my partner. His sister passed away recently. Funny enough I have just realised that actually the natural order of consciousness is that he and I are autonomous people in consciousness. It is because of a thought that we are linked ( must be culturally or socially constructed) and that I am linked to him as a partner, that I get affected with everything he goes through emotionally. Being conscious of that thought, immediately put a stop to the ups and downs in emotions. This is my interpretation for now as we evolve deeper and find out more.

  2. sexliebesinn Says:

    Hi, thanks a lot for your comment! I think I understand what you are saying about how easy it is to get knocked about by the emotional experience of others, especially your mate. I also have to remind myself a lot that yes, we are indeed seperate people with very different things going on inside of each of us at times.

    It’s also really natural, especially when something like death occurs to someone close, that we can’t help but also feel the impact of that experience on our lover. I think, it is less about what exactly we are feeling and picking up from the other than how we relate to it – i.e. if R is stressed out, for example, I can’t help but be affected, but I can still decide what the smartest and best response might be and how I handle myself.
    Thanks again, I really appreciate you writing!

  3. Bryan Warner Says:

    Nicely written, intriguing piece. As a Causal Determinist — one who views our universe and everything in it as One Gigantic Machine — my interest in this blog posting should be obvious, especially in light of the fact that I view even such refined matters as Love and Spirituality to be little more than “parts of The Big Machine” (albeit extremely important parts). Can you tell me how to obtain a copy of this book, “The Impossibility of Love,” or at least provide its author’s name? Is this book in English or only German? Speaking of “all things German,” it turns out that Kraftwerk – The Greatest Band of All-Time – uber-rules my small yet significant Musical Kingdom! Thanks and have a Good One! Bryan Warner, Tacoma, WA, USA

  4. sexliebesinn Says:

    Thanks Bryan for your response! The book only exists in German as far as I know, unfortunately! You can get it on amazon.de ‘Die Unmoeglichkeit der Liebe”
    And I am intrigued by your philosophy – if all, including ourselves, are part of this gigantic machine, than who is figuring this out, who wants to know, who is interested? The machine itself?

    And you are right, Kraftwerk IS cool! have a good day!

  5. Bryan Warner Says:

    Thanks for getting back to me so quickly! I downloaded a translator (www.babelfish.com) and was able to translate into English the http://www.amazon.de site displaying the book, only it appears the actual title is “On the Impossibility…” (“Von der Unmöglichkeit…”), rather than merely “The Impossibility…” (“Die Unmöglichkeit…”). I also noted your comment at amazon.de on the first book review posted, and I sincerely wish you the very best with your upcoming book Sex, Love and the Search for Meaning. As regards your being intrigued by my Big Machine Philosophy, I have not as yet published my upcoming TOE (“Theory Of Everything”) — which I feel contains the answers to your questions — though I am prepared to leave you with the following excerpt for now: It is my Great Faith that z = z2 + c (The Mandelbrot Set) is God, and that all that exists both within and without this Universe is produced and Causally Determined by z = z2 + c. More to come… Bryan Warner, Tacoma, WA, USA


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