is a transcribed conversation over instant-messenger with a friend of
So a polyamorous person I know put their position to me this way: do
you have more friends than just your best-friend; does your best friend
fulfill all your friend-needs? Well, then why would you expect the same
with one lover?
I suppose there is something to be said for that, but I think for many
people, the answer to the question is that one lover does fulfill their
think it’s more than it seems. While I can see one person satisfying
another’s genital erotic needs, the basic lesson Freud gives us about
civilization and libido is that the former is built through
domesticating (i.e. harnessing) the latter. That is to say, for those
people some other aspect of their life is eroticized in a sufficient
way to what they need – be that people, socially-necessary work or art
(including religious devotion). What we can at least say today is that
the way the developed world paradoxically eroticizes the whole world
actually de-eroticizes it. This is why Zizek rants about safe-sex as
“sex without sex” in the way he calls the media’s white-washing of war
(or green-washing of [ecologically exploitive] capitalism) “war without
war.” Zizek also likes to say that given permissive norms now, a
“traditional” marriage is truly subversive, not because it plays the
same game of out-transgressing the previous way of doing things, but
because it creates a short-circuit in the way we view human relations
as perpetual pissing contests and domination.
the crazy sex manuals of India, China and Japan and their traditions of
intense contemplation and discipline (Zen especially).
of what I was trying to say is that the way that Marx described [in
"The Communist Manifesto] how under Capitalism “All fixed, fast frozen
relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and
opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before
they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is
profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his
real condition of life and his relations with his kind.” How this can
be thought in terms of this dissolution of normative monogamy. This
sounds like the end of the world, or at least a very bad thing, but
what it could mean is the emergence of a form of love whose content is
monogamous (we only relate to one person at a time), but whose form is
can think of Christ’s event (arguably the Judeo-Christian event) as a
form of this simultaneously dissolving and universalizing love, because
only through Him, this individual human, is God accessible. The content
is the same, but the form is radically different. Polyamory cannot be
forced of course, but it does not arise spontaneously and without a
material base. Like Marx also said, men make history, but not under the
conditions they choose. What polyamory might mean is a form of love
beyond the alienating failure of our first love (i.e. ourself).
I think you just proved why you would be a good academic and why I
Because you just used Marx, Freud, and Jesus to make a case for
polyamory. That, to be blunt, is some academic shit!
Bullshit or no? I don’t think Freud and company are inaccessible as
much as they are not popular. I think a lot of resentment at what gets
called condescension operates according to this mechanism, where an
unpopular view is taken as a threat (what a great way to think about
xenophobia too) rather than something to be engaged for what it is. I
think Zizek’s life for the last 25 years has been a stunning example of
why these remain relevant figures and theories.
for what I’ll take as a compliment though.
It is a compliment. I wasn’t trying to infer that you were using
irrelevant or obscure references. I was just saying that you take an
academic approach to argumentation. Using preexisting writings to do
cross analyses and draw conclusions that support your point of view.
I tend just to think about what makes sense and then say it.
Hrmm, that’s what I thought I was doing.
That’s why you are naturally an academic. It’s a good thing.
think it would be a mistake to say I made a case for polyamory, as in
making a case for why we should go left rather than right. What
interests me with polyamory – which I have been thinking of for a while
but most intensely lately – is the way it can be used to think of
economic and other concrete relations and transformations. So, it would
be a mistake to say that people were only monogamous in the 19th
century, but that the structure of social and economic relations (i.e.
relations established by positive law) were such that polyamory could
not flourish or work right. Today, we are encountering places in
society (literally geographic spaces if we think of how the most
liberal places are our urban centers) that do not support “traditional”
monogamy as well as polyamory and the like. I affirm polyamory, but
ultimately I believe there are forms of monogamy (“traditional” even)
that engage the same selfless love (i.e. love beyond narcissism). I
can’t make a case for polyamory through Christ without visiting both
the fact that he endorsed conventional marital relations and said the
only way to him was through “hating” (i.e. letting go of) all your
family (i.e. your identity as a sibling/parent/spouse*).
I suppose I’m not trying to make the case for monogamy, but it seems
that polyamory is more of a selfish act, and that once you go down that
path you will only be seeking the next experience in a quest for
something that you will never find.
for the long time between responses. I’ve been brewing.
If you want to think of it economically: strict monogamy functions best
where you do not have a strong support (i.e. support of material needs)
structure in the form of a state or otherwise public institution
(arguably corporations attempt to be such public bodies, but deeply
perverted kind**). When public society starts to dissolve the old needs
for hierarchy and control to provide us with what we need, strict
monogamy loses its ability to stabilize our sense of belonging amidst
those conditions that make our life possible. So, polyamory arises as
an ethical way to manage our affectively-charged relations[---a
response to our mode of material reproduction].
the same way that as the business grows bigger, you can no longer have
one guy run the show. It takes a bottom-up approach to really get
things done. Polyamory is potentially love from
the bottom up.
should qualify that what is usually thought of as the private sector,
is still in large part socialized. What remains private about it are
literally paper thin legal definitions.
it’s not just a kind of a socialist state in which traditional, strict
monogamy loses its efficiency.
I would argue that it is actually the opposite. Polyamory creates a
marketplace for love in which one chooses the best products/lovers.
When you are constantly shopping for better and better experiences you
become alienate from the act of making love for the sake of the perfect
Brilliant. I absolutely agree.
is why Zizek can get away with arguing for traditional, strict monogamy
as subversive in light of permissive norms.
you think it would fly with the right wingers if we proved to them that
capitalism is responsible for the destruction of the family?
That is not a critique of polyamory as such though, anymore than what I
was saying in the first place was a critique of monogamy as such, but
view into concrete-social and economic relations through the
ideological lens of how we relate to (and regulate) our sexual partners.
yes. I mean, you have to remember that the fascists were, at least in
Germany, national socialists
of love are always, in the end, about identity – and vice versa.
True. I bet the Taliban would be pretty supportive of that critique
They would, but for the wrong reasons.
I’m listening to a recording of an a capella group with Ray Charles.
It’s fucking awesome.
Namely the “I was only following orders” sort of enjoyment those fucks
get out of abusing the symbolic order for their imaginary ends.
Precisely, I think, in the way the mother of 1 Kings 3:16-28 gave up
her identity as a mother in order to love/save her son from Solomon’s
Literally in the sense that Lacan doubly alludes to when he pronounces
“perversion” “pere-version,” or “version of the Father,” where Father
here could be a kind of Heavenly Father or symbolic guarantor of things