Saturday, March 20, 2010

Dirty Pretty Things

It's been an interesting couple of months on Sexless Berlin -- lots of input from readers that have me thinking mightily about "luv". It would seem that the older (and therefore more experienced) I get, the more I believe Sartre and de Beauvoir may have had it right. The ideal of platonic love as a pinnacle far above "romantic" (i.e., sexual) love seems, to me, just about right. Maybe it was all those years having to hear shitty romantic boleros on the radio in Latinamerica, while knowing nearly all the men (and naturally a fair number of the women) were cheating to beat the band. Or maybe it was, for the first and only time in my life, experiencing post-romantic love, in a pure, platonic sense.

In my line of work, we talk about confounding variables, and I find lust to be exactly that, a hopeless confounder of love. I've decided that it's simply impossible to separate the two in any sexual relationship that is at all successful. When the sex fizzles, as it generally tends to, well, then that's when things can actually become clear. Contrast that feeling of, "I knew I'd be better off without this guy" with the strange realization that, "hey, I actually want to keep him around".

What, then, is "romantic love"? It can be a terrible cage, ranging from intense feelings of desire and longing to childish rages and unreasoning jealousy. This mostly, I believe, stems from needs unmet. That's lust, my friends, that's sexual need, and it seems so often mixed with deep inabilities to communicate. It's no wonder that I despair of social norms that seem designed for little more than to manage our pathologic delusions centering around sex. My, my, Katchita, you will say, isn't that a bit strong? Well, yes, I suppose it is, but I ask you, really, how many couples do you know who have successfully combined the romantic and platonic aspects of love I'm describing here? Now how many have made it last?? I rest my case.

While I'm on an anti-romantic roll here, let me just continue by saying that I don't care how many songs have been written about it, "romance" is simply not about being in the moment. It's about the past ("this is the story of how we met") and the future ("we'll be together for the rest of our lives"), but what does that sort of thinking get us? It gets us waking up at the age of 80 realizing we squandered much of our lives. Letting go of that and saying, simply, that I am a sexual creature and this is what I need now, and I don't need to put a special name on it and I don't need to only do it with my together-for-ever one-and-only, well, that just seems somehow more real, honest and alive. And given that being in the moment bas become one of my greatest goals in life, that alone is enough to make me a non-monogamist.

But, dear readers, do not despair, as I have, under it all, an optimistic message to impart! And that is that it's becoming clear to me that platonic love to a large degree transcends all those physical needs; it endures and burns strong; it casts a light that represents perhaps the best of what we humans have inside. What do I know, I'm nothing more than an armchair philosopher, an idiosyncratic student of life. But it seems to me that a non-monogamist who's found platonic love is well on the way to achieving the truly sublime.

No comments: