*Edit: this song seemed apt:
In the last couple of weeks I’ve found myself wanting to blog about so so many things.
So many themes have cropped up in my various conversations|reading|studies that I want to reflect on. It’s just a shame that I don’t really have the time! In the last week, I’ve found myself thinking a great deal about identity, racism, globalisation, mental health, hierarchical structures, religion & ideology – all in very big ways (and often in relation to other concepts, or to one another). I’ve been thinking a great deal. I’ve been thinking too much.
Today, anyway, I want to talk about sex. ‘Sex?’ Yeah, sex. ‘Why?’ Because it’s really funny, and the context of sex makes it all the more hilarious. What is sex? The furious movement of two people in, usually, opposite directions – two bodies, wildly flailing, gripping or trying to grip, slipping, lost (perhaps) in that intense feeling we seem unable to obtain from anything other than sex. Sex is fun for most, and yet, people try to avoid talking about it. Sex happens behind closed doors and it often stays that way (which, for physical sex, is perhaps a good thing!), people don’t want to talk about it. Why? I’m not sure.
What I find interesting is that when you try to talk to others about it it very quickly becomes an issue of emotion. If you are sleeping with someone regularly, then what does that mean in terms of liking or loving the person you are sleeping with? The emotional is certainly tied up with the physical – the two can, and often do, go hand in hand – but that is not to say that they always go hand in hand. There is this implication that sex can lead to love, and love can lead to sex and this is true, but also false at the same time – it strikes me as a far more complicated issue and yet we refer to it as some kind of universal. ‘So, is such and such interested in you? […] Are you interested in such and such?’ And that interest is more than just attraction, or lust, or sexual interest – there is the implication that there could be an awful lot more behind it. Sometimes there is, sometimes there isn’t, and sometimes there will be.
If, for most people, sex is fun – then why must we be so tied up with that traditional idea of being in a relationship to enjoy it? But then, counter to this, doesn’t having sex with someone else mean you are in a relationship of sorts? Perhaps not in the traditional idea of a ‘relationship’, but, nonetheless, you would probably still find yourselves sharing each others time. In turn, is it something that can be measured by frequency (such a horrifyingly scientific term)? So, if you spend a great deal of time with someone and have sex, then are you not, essentially, in a ‘normal’ ‘traditional’ relationship? Perhaps you never (and just formulating this sentence made me giggle) formally agreed that you were in a relationship, but then to the outside world would you not appear as one? What prevents this image of a relationship from being realised as a ‘relationship’ (I’ve read too much Baudrillard, I think)?
Perhaps there is a problem with the word ‘relationship’. It can mean so many things. The relationship between me and my desk, between me and my boss, between atomic particles, between two people that are in love. These are all relationships — and there are many many more – and yet they are all so varied. These relationships share similarities in that they have a relationship, but the nature of this relationship is very different in each example. In addition, ‘relationship’ strikes me as a word that has connotations of respect, of involvement (obviously), and perhaps of interest – and yet, I find it interesting that a relationship can be described as ‘broken’, or severed. Surely it hasn’t been broken? Surely it has just become something else – a difficult relationship – or a negative relationship – or even just an ignored relationship, forgotten, or purposefully avoided. The relationship is never ‘broken’ – it has simply changed. We say that we are no longer in a relationship when a ‘formal’ relationship ‘ends’, but really we are still in a relationship. We still feel things. There is residue. Perhaps we go out and find someone new – but then the irony is that that could have been caused by the fallout of the last relationship. To what extent did the last relationship dictate the new relationship?
And then for love, the most complex of human emotions (so they say). Isn’t love the same as a relationship, in that, love cannot necessarily be broken, severed or lost? Certainly not easily – again there is residue – and yet we can learn to love someone else, or maybe to not love at all. It becomes interesting, that question of ‘do you love such and such?’ Which so often comes out of the conversation about relationships, or a relationship. Does love enter into an informal relationship? In addition, if we don’t think about love, or have a bad view of love, then why should we have to think about our relationship in terms of ‘so I love such and such’? If it is an informal relationship – an image of a relationship – an illusion, almost, of the formal (although, the formal is as much an illusion as the illusion itself) – is it just about comfort, about not thinking or not being involved with ‘do I love’. Then the question is invalid, surely? It is not a relationship of love – it is something else – and yet when people say ‘No, I do not love such and such’ there’s this massive shock-horror look. I’ve put on the shock-horror look plenty of times, so have many people, I’m sure, though I reckon that’s mainly because when we talk about ‘relationships’ we don’t really go that in depth about what we are really asking – what really is the nature of the relationship? What is important in that relationship? So, perhaps we shouldn’t slip into shock-horror as easily as we do – and we should avoid rolling into the cul-de-sacs about the connections between sex, relationships, and love – because they are all so complex: one thing can become another that can become another, or they can just become two, or just stay as one – or become something else entirely.
Can a long term ‘formal’ relationship last without love? Yes. Yes it can (I think). Love can be an amazing thing, but it can also be torture. I was very naive not too long ago and thought that, so long as two people loved one another in a relationship, then the relationship would be able to navigate it’s way through any problems it might encounter. It doesn’t work like that, not in my experience anyway, which was quite a shock for me. Could you go as far as to say that love is, in fact, dangerous in a ‘formal’ relationship? Or, perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself – we need to first ask how much do we love? Can we love too much? Is there a healthy dose of love – and – then, is it an individual dosage?
I think that love is like spice. Spice or herbs. It can make things taste amazing; it can dictate the success of a meal; but it could also overburden it. Too much spice and it all just tastes of spice – perhaps its undercooked, and you get the grit from it stuck in your teeth and then you want to spit it all out again. Put it in the bin. Start again. But a meal is the sum of it’s parts and more; the person who eats the meal has their own set of tastes – what they like and don’t like – and then it becomes almost infinitely complex.
Love is like spice. If we’ve never had spice we don’t miss it. If we’ve had spice and used it well when we had it, and now find ourselves without it, we miss it. If we’ve had spice but messed up the whole operation, and now find ourselves without it, then we might be happy about not having spice. Spice is a hard thing to get right, but even if it all went wrong you’ve probably still tasted it’s potential – what it could have been.