The Paradox of Love
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
The sexual revolution is justly celebrated for the freedoms it brought--birth control, the decriminalization of abortion, the liberalization of divorce, greater equality between the sexes, women's massive entry into the workforce, and more tolerance of homosexuality. But as Pascal Bruckner, one of France's leading writers, argues in this lively and provocative reflection on the contradictions of modern love, our new freedoms have also brought new burdens and rules--without, however, wiping out the old rules, emotions, desires, and arrangements: the couple, marriage, jealousy, the demand for fidelity, the war between constancy and inconstancy. It is no wonder that love, sex, and relationships today are so confusing, so difficult, and so paradoxical.
Drawing on history, politics, psychology, literature, pop culture, and current events, this book--a best seller in France--exposes and dissects these paradoxes. With his customary brilliance and wit, Bruckner traces the roots of sexual liberation back to the Enlightenment in order to explain love's supreme paradox, epitomized by the 1960s oxymoron of "free love": the tension between freedom, which separates, and love, which attaches. Ashamed that our sex lives fail to live up to such liberated ideals, we have traded neuroses of repression for neuroses of inadequacy, and we overcompensate: "Our parents lied about their morality," Bruckner writes, but "we lie about our immorality."
Mixing irony and optimism, Bruckner argues that, when it comes to love, we should side neither with the revolutionaries nor the reactionaries. Rather, taking love and ourselves as we are, we should realize that love makes no progress and that its messiness, surprises, and paradoxes are not merely the sources of its pain--but also of its pleasure and glory.
borderline between being married and being unmarried is becoming increasingly vague. It is now The Challenge of Marriage for Love ♥ 85 possible to have probationary love affairs, on weekends or on vacation, to practice affective make-shifts, taking something from each model without suffering from any. Instead of the conjugal straitjacket, a light coat that one can change at will, chance coalitions. The couple is gradually freeing itself from the three principles that were basic to the
with you, and gives you a big kiss after a furious session of S&M? The sensible site of unreasonable actions, the modern couple is the very figure of ambiguity: an image of conformism and of the least commendable fornication. The modern couple practices in high doses what might be called a sentimental obscenity, mixing sweet words with crude ones. The night table becomes an annex to the sex shop, a depository of sexy underwear and various prostheses. (The best fantasies, let us not forget, are
society. In this case, the liberation of desire takes place under the emblem of a belligerent vainglory: the new Dionysians don the garb of the rioter as if nothing had changed and Victorian morals continued to rage with the same ferocity. They invent mighty adversaries for themselves, throw up little barricades of paper, and sell disobedience by the meter the way a draper sells fabric. Even among the most talented of them, what drum rolls, what roaring cannonades! To listen to them, they are
phoenix that appears and disappears like an indocile servant, either too present or too absent. A Greek myth that ought to be taught in every school tells us that during an argument between Hera and Zeus, the latter, against his wife’s opinion, maintained that women feel more pleasure in love than men do. To settle the dispute, Hera called in Tiresias, whom she had transformed into a woman for seven years as punishment for killing two serpents. Tiresias responded: “If in love pleasure were
it leads mortals to think they are immortal, and divine love, the sole authentic one. False love that attaches itself to the creature is sensual desire (cupiditas), while the love that attaches itself to the Creator is charity (caritas). The former takes as its object a fleeting good whose slave it becomes, the latter an eternal good that frees one from fear and from death. It is madness to love humans in their human condition, says St. Augustine, to love someone who must die as if he will not