NB: The title of this post is to be attributed to Big Black, and is a song off their 1986 LP, Atomizer (Homestead Records). Further, this post has its predecessors. I wouldn’t want to give the wrong idea. Thus, to be thorough, I’ll also mention those that I’ve no intention of mentioning: (Smog)’s “To be Hit,” and Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving.
“I’m sleeping with your best friend because
I want to make you jealous
and make you realize that you love me.
I make you jealous because I love you.
I sleep with your best friend because I love you.
I am hurting you because I love you.”
(Karen Finley, “St. Valentine’s Massacre,” Shock Treatment. San Francisco: City Lights, 1990)
Love needs to be interrogated. Or perhaps more properly speaking: dissected. Within pop culture it’s been offered as a cure-all, the salve to be applied to every skinned knee, the hanky with which to mop up all the tears and snot, the hormone induced man-boobs between which we find release, solace, and a good night’s sleep. But Baby, such blind belief, such love of love, is simple-minded hippy-shit. And fucking dangerous, to boot. Our hangover, perhaps, from the 60s, and one we’re in desperate need of addressing should we actually learn to deal decently with one another. It’s the morning after: time to sober up and face the carnage.
Love can never succeed as an antidote to violence, because love, in the broadest sense of the term, often precedes the violence it’s meant to heal. This sounds terrible, I know. But all the ooohing and aaahing over love has drowned out the spouse-beaters and child-abusers, the best friend-fuckers and trappers, the naggers and manipulators, not to mention the screams of their loved ones. If taken all together, this represents a majority, and one that must not be ignored. Love is morally neutral, be it agape, eros, philia, or xenia, all are necessarily grey.
It was thus that some eight years ago I took out my scalpel and began pouring over my mother’s dead body (out of love, of course), and came up with the following designations:
1. Love is a word denoting an abstract. We might as well speak of unicorns.
2. Love is a feeling. In its most extreme form it gives rise to the desire to gut the loved object and climb inside.
3. Love is a practice that must be fully conscious of the other two designations and their tendency to give rise to violence and bring harm upon the beloved. As a practice, love must take a decidedly hands-off approach and set itself the task of allowing the other to exist as unique, integral other. This can be quite difficult and, paradoxically, cause the beloved to feel unloved.
Thoughts? Further dissections? Surely the Christians must have something to say…