The end of President Hollande’s and Valérie Trierweiler’s ‘pure relationship’

President Hollande’s termination of his relationship with Valérie Trierweiler is a very public example of the end of what Anthony Giddens calls the ‘pure relationship‘.

It pure because it is entered for its own sake, for what can be derived from it by each person. It can be terminated, more or less at will, by either partner. Keep one’s options open. Focus on what is good and desirable for oneself. Do not allow commitments to outlast the pleasure which can be derived from them. One’s only moral responsibility is to oneself. Pure relationships, then, are contingent relationships.

This is ‘confluent love’, not once-in-lifetime, romantic love or ‘autism for two’. Lovers come together. Lovers come apart. No harm done then. The pure relationship is accompanied by ‘plastic’ sexuality, i.e., sexual pleasure without reproduction, kinship.

Like each lover, each place is regarded as a temporary stay. And here we are. 

As Valérie Trierweiler packed her bags, her compatriots Daft Punk were awarded a Grammy at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, for their album ‘Random Access Memory’. Daft Punk, a French electronic duo who always appear dressed as robots. Robots don’t have moral responsibility either.

The latest video from RAM is Instant Crush. It tells the love story of two 18th century wax figures, a French solider and a woman, on display in an exhibition hall. These symbolize romantic love and traditional relationships. They are moved into a storage hall. It catches fire. They fall over, his hand seems to come alive for a few brief seconds and touches hers. And they melt away. This seems to be the fate of romantic love and traditional relationships too.

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Far away from Los Angeles Academy Awards, another kind of love and relationship is growing among those on the streets of Europe, for whom the future has no future.

Hurts so Good: Modern love

Do you love your beloved?

Or do you love the pleasant sensations she or he elicits in you?

In other words, do you love the person you desire, or do you love desire?

There is a difference.

If you practice “romantic” love the chances are that you love desire. We like those pleasant sensations and want to keep them for ourselves. Romantic love is possessive love. We want our beloved to be happy, but only if that happiness is contingent on ourselves.

Romantic love feels natural but it developed within modernity and from Christianity. The model of this passion? The passion of Christ. Religious passion and devotion to God became secularized and formed the basis of the relationship between man and woman.

Romantic love idealises the other and scripts the proper course of development of the relationship.

This love became a narrative by which men and women lived their lives. Hence the “romance” novel. As readers of romance, women diffused and feminised romantic love. It became a narrative by which subordinated women could entrap a likely provider. But few women would have made the mistake of believing in it. Many men do just that.

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In Carmen, for example, that was Jose Navarro’s error—he believed in romantic love. On this basis, he attempted its corollary, to capture this love by controlling the life of his beloved, Carmen.

Carmen knew this was like trying to capture the wind and laughed at him. In a futile attempt to capture this love for himself, Jose killed Carmen. Men attempting to preserve their desire by controlling their partner, is all too common in romantic relationships.

Hurts so good.

Arms & Flowers

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ARMS

Many arm themselves for war.
It is necessary.
Others arm themselves for the world.
It is called for.
Some arm themselves for death.
It is natural.
You arm yourself for love
and you are so defenseless
against war,
against the world,
against death.

This poem was written by Luz Helena Cordero, who is Colombian. Most of the flowers given in North America this Valentine’s Day as expressions of love were grown in Colombia.

There’s not a lot of love, however, between the women who grow the flowers and their employers. For more information see Fairness in Flowers.

So keep these words of their compatriot in mind and take care lest these flowers, which arm you for love, render you defenceless ‘against war, against the world, against death’.

Getting emotional about diamonds

We know all about ‘blood’ or conflict diamonds, don’t we?

They are so-called because they have been used by rebels in Africa, in parts of which diamonds occur naturally, to finance their insurrections.

We know of this primarily through Blood Diamond, a 2006 movie set in Sierra Leone, during 1999, “a time of chaos and civil war”. One graphic advertising the film shows a diamond dripping blood.

Diamonds From Sierra Leone‘ (2005) by Kanye West, see above, exploits the same meme. We first hear Shirley Bassey singing ‘Diamonds are Forever’, the title song from the James Bond movie of the same name and it runs throughout the entire track and video. Funnily enough, it was also the title of a de Beers ad campaign in 1947. More on this below.

In the video above, Bassey’s voice is juxtaposed with images of an imagined ‘blood diamond’ mine, where children work as slaves of ‘the rebels’. ‘We are the children of the blood diamonds’.

To add a touch of historical gravity, West himself appears on the 600 year old Charles Bridge in Prague which connects the Castle and the Old Town. Look carefully and you can see the house where Franz Kafka was born. Not even him could make up this stuff.

For a religious overtone, West and the camera look up at a statue in the form of a crucifix, looking very much like this: Mary Magdalene and John the Evangelist looking up at Jesus on the Cross. Only now it is we who are joining them in supplication. It is these child miners who are being crucified—for our diamond-buying sins.

Just so there’s no confusion, at 1:50 when a man places a ring on the finger of his intended, blood pours from her fingers. They look on, horrified. Lovely touch that.

The lyrics are banal and have absolutely nothing to do with the message of the video. Exploited children be damned—the lyrics are all about him. It is the phoney emotions of the video that sell the rap; well, together with the melodic voice of Shirley Bassey.

To complete West’s mining motif, check out his ‘Gold Digger’ on the same album. (The degradation of hip-hop is a sorry business.)

As the video closes, West walks back across the bridge and we are implored, ‘Please purchase conflict free diamonds‘.

Since only “insurgents” like conflict, blood diamonds are thought to be a “bad thing” in Western diplomacy, especially in the United Nations.

One would think, though, that much depends on what these rebels are rebelling against.

Nevertheless, trade in these illicit diamonds has been outlawed by the United Nations. Diamond trade, to be lawful, must fall within the scope of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, established in 2002.

One wonders why this intolerance towards the financing of wars is not applied to wars prosecuted by Western countries, or to the suppliers of armaments to all and sundry.

But, no, it’s just arms bought using blood diamonds that’s the problem.

There is something not quite right here.

The unspoken truth is that blood diamonds were banned, not because they funded African wars, but because they threatened the cartel of diamond traders, led by de Beers.

The anguished wringing of hands over blood diamonds is a moral gloss on old fashioned money-grubbing. This touching humanitarian gesture also nicely preserves Western “interests” in these countries.

There are diamonds in Mali too—along with gold, uranium, bauxite and a wealth of other natural resources. Thank goodness the French have gone in to protect them.

And you think legitimate diamonds are conflict-free?

De Beers was built by exploiting slave labour, in the days of the apartheid regime in South Africa. Even today, you wouldn’t want to be one of those who dig diamonds out of the earth, or who cut and polish them.

Most of the world’s diamonds are cut and polished in Surat, 150 miles north of Mombai, India. Many of the cutters and polishers are bonded child laborers.

And how were these mines acquired if not by conflict. Diamond mines the world over, tend to be on lands expropriated from, now displaced, indigenous peoples.

The diamond cartel’s brand rests on a carefully polished image: the belief that diamonds are scarce and that diamonds are a symbol of romantic love.

Like romantic love, the brand’s narrative goes, diamonds are scarce and precious. But if they are not so scarce, and if they come to market by dubious means, diamonds as a symbol of love falls flat on its face.

Well diamonds are not as rare in nature as we have been led to believe. That’s one lesson of blood diamonds. They are rare in the market place, but only because for years de Beers has jealously controlled their supply. It isn’t about to let grubby insurgents destroy its cartel.

Those warm and fuzzy associations between diamonds and love which seem so natural, were created by an advertising agency in 1947/8 —that’s when de Beer’s slogan “A Diamond is Forever” was created—and placed in the heads of generations of lovers by some first rate emotional marketing.

The purpose of this slogan wasn’t to cement romantic relationships, it was to kill any prospect of a secondary retail market in diamonds—what woman wants to trade-in an object cocooned in love?—which allowed de Beers to control price at the wholesale level.

Diamonds may last forever, but romantic love certainly does not. Science says a year to 18 months, if you’re lucky.

The marketing of diamonds focuses on love as a noun, the feelings our beloved elicits in us. This poses the question, Do we love the other person, or the feeling the other person elicits in us? It can, of course, take years, sometimes a lifetime, for couples to figure out the difference.

Love is best considered as a verb. It’s not what people say, imagine or conceive about love—it’s how they act that matters.

And these actions cost nothing.

Peggy Sue loves Willard Mitt—Vote Republican

Mrs Romney—Ann—was the star of the show last night (Tuesday) at the Republican Convention in Tampa. She did ok too.

She’s auditioning for First Lady, so it was only fit and proper that she got emotional. About love, actually—the love between herself and her husband, our candidate.

See the video at Ann Romney tells Republicans Mitt ‘will not fail’

I was reminded of Kathleen Turner as Peggy Sue in Peggy Sue Got Married (1986).

Peggy Sue was one of the most popular girls in high school, enjoying life with her friends and her boyfriend Charlie. It was the typical high school dream, until she finds herself married to Charlie and becomming a young mother. However, her life takes a serious turn, leaving her depressed and facing divorce when Charlie runs off with another woman. At her high school reunion, Peggy Sue faints and wakes up back in high school. Despite her confusion about what has happened and how to get back to her own time, Peggy realizes that she has a chance to start her life over, to avoid her depression and her marriage to Charlie. However, just because she knows the future, does that mean she can really avoid it? Source

That was no republican convention. No, that was a high school reunion. And that’s not who we think it is either—it’s Peggy Sue Romney, in her senior year at high school, taking us back in time to the 1950s when life was sweet and love true.

Like America, she has the chance to start over again. She chooses him and America should too.

Note that America is cast in the female role here. Mitt Romney is courting her. He is one of two suitors for the hand of America. He’s got the bashful smile. All he he needs is a bunch of flowers.

Peggy Sue provides a character reference. She tells us that he is a good man who can be trusted. America—he will not take advantage of your innocence. ‘This man will not let us down. This man will lift up America.’

It was a touching, heartfelt performance. I don’t doubt that Mitt and Ann are a devoted couple. But that’s no qualification for being president.

This is the romance of nostalgia and I doubt that Americans will fall for it. (Although it worked for Reagan).

‘Nostaligia’ comes from ‘nostos’ meaning ‘return home’ and ‘algia’ meaning ‘longing’.

We’re nostalgic for something real. We long for a sense of belonging, for a home in a quickly moving society of atomized post humans. When she says  Mitt ‘will take America to a better place’, that’s what she’s getting at.

But the ‘real’ is gone. It can be recreated only in a movie, Peggy Sue. We live simulated lives, with simulated emotions. There is no home to go back to. We have to move forward and create something fresh, something authentic.

There is something more.

The Romney’s live in Belmont, a suburb of Boston.

Belmont (a suburb of Venice?) is also the home of Portia in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. Portia is a rich, beautiful and intelligent heiress. Her choice of husband is bound by the stipulations of her father’s will. Potential suitors must choose one of three caskets, of lead, silver, and gold. He who choses the right casket win’s Portia’s hand in marriage.

What, then, does the right casket contain? It contains Portia’s portrait.

Perhaps, the United States is like Portia. They are both a little weary of the world.

PORTIA By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is aweary of this great world.

Like Portia, America must accept the suitor who follows the stipulations it inherited. Like Portia, America derides each suitor. In both cases, it is a lottery.

America will choose the casket which contains its own image.

Love simulated vs. Love achieved

Here is the latest emotional marketing campaign by Volkswagen with commentary by MemeMachine:

Most car ads focus on the vehicle driving down absurdly quiet streets, or in slow motion on a wide, majestic beach. This ad uses the car as it was intended – as transport. 

Volkswagen may have cast the vehicle as just that, a humble conveyance, but it’s also the driving force behind this love story.

Our heroine sits in her city apartment writing an email to her man. It’s not a happy message, she’s been doing a lot of thinking and wants him to call her as soon as he reads the email. A break-up appears to be looming.

Instead of hitting send, she prints the message and jumps into her Volkswagen, carrying the note with her as she drives through the night.

Alone on the open road, she has time to think about how the long-distance relationship is going, all the interrupted phone calls and where she feels at home.

Dawn breaks and she arrives at the beach. Standing in front of her man, she knows where home is. The pair embrace and the rest of us wonder what this has to do with Volkswagen.

Just in time, the ad tells us, “some technology connects us” (referring to emails). But thinking about Volkswagen’s vehicles, “the best technology brings us together”.

Put together by Ogilvy, Cape Town, the tear-jerking ad has garnered nearly 6,000 views in one week.

This well-crafted ad manages to use the car to tell a great story, without forgetting that the car is just a car. Source

If your emotions are stirred by this contrived sentiment it’s probably time to give your head a good shake.

Nevertheless, what you feel in front of a screen and what you feel in the presence of someone are incomparable, so I like that she’s prepared to break-up with him face-to-face. Even if she doesn’t.

But if she now knows where home is (presumably, with him) she’s not going to need a car at all, is she? She can make do with a bike.

Let’s compare this with a real love story. Noting what the VW driver’s young man has on the back of his T-shirt, let’s choose this one: Order to destroy ‘massive’ shark that killed Perth surfer Ben Linden.

Here his girl-friend of 8 years—Alana Noakes—says this of Ben:

“I’m devastated to let everyone know that my beautiful man, Ben Linden, was the surfer who was taken by the shark at Wedge this morning…

“Ben was the most amazing man, he lit up the lives of all who knew him.

“He was the most talented, good-natured, beautiful person I’ve ever met.

“He was the love of my life, my best friend, my rock and my soulmate.

“I, like everyone who knew him, absolutely cherish every moment of the last 8 years I spent with him.

“He has helped me to be a better person, to learn to ‘ride the waves’ of life.
“Let’s remember that he was doing something that meant the world to him. Surfing was his soul, his life, his culture and his passion.

“He loved mother nature in all her glory and is now in her arms eternally. Let’s rejoice in that.”

Amen to that.

Here they are together:

Ben Linden and Alana Noakes

A short article on Aaron Ben-Ze’ev’s ‘In the Name of Love: Romantic Ideology and its Victims’

The institution of marriage may be in decline, but love is still going strong. In a new book, philosophy professor and University of Haifa president Aaron Ben-Ze’ev explains why.

The article is by Aviva Lori and is called ‘Happily ever after, for at least three years’ and can be found here.

See how Ben-Ze’ev defines ’emotion.