‘Passion’ was first used to refer to physical suffering and pain, especially that of Jesus in the last few days of his life. More generally, it was used to refer to the suffering of a martyr or saint. The word’s origins are in suffering.
Only later, beginning in the 1400s, did ‘passion’ come to mean an overpowering emotion:
a1616 Shakespeare Henry VI, Pt. 1 (1623) v. ii. 18 Of all base passions, Feare is most accurst.
More recently, passion came to refer to intense romantic love and sexual desire. There is, of course, a kind of suffering there, of the ‘hurts so good’ kind. Was this the kind that Jesus felt?
It was as if we embraced and internalized the passion of Christ (i.e., his rapturous suffering) and made it our own, to be shared with (or directed at) a man or woman of our choice.
Between these two events, the Roman Catholic church inserted its own interpretation of the relationship between Jesus and his mother Mary and partner, Mary Magdalene, the icon of penance. Most of our romantic and sexual relations exist within this moral framework (whether we realize it or not).
I wrote about this in ‘On Eve-ing in India‘ and so won’t do so here.
Which brings me to the two passionate tea bags in the photo.
Emotional energy has shifted from people to brands. Increasingly, we sell our ability to feel in the form of emotional labour. We fill the resultant void by immersing ourselves in the world of brands, their emotions, narratives and images. This is to say, we buy our emotional experiences.
The entire emotional vocabulary has been appropriated by emotional marketers and now stares back at us in stores and shopping malls.
Look carefully: The reincarnation of tea + passion = ?