Released in April of last year, “The Redest Rose Blooms” stayed at my bedside for a while until writer Milly Lacombe, who also happens to be my friend and confidant, told me the following: “Read it now! Now! In it you will find all the answers”.
She didn’t exaggerate. Whether you’re suffering for love, whether you’re making others suffer, whether you’re a mole or a massive boulder, comic artist Liv Strömquist has a brilliant theory about your case, based on philosophers, poets, sociologists, writers, singers, artists pop and gossip magazines.
To justify the criticism of capitalism made in the subtitle of the work, Liv cites the Korean writer Byung-Chul Han (yes, the author of the book “Society of Tiredness”).
Byung-Chul believes that our way of loving and relating has been completely transformed by the extreme narcissism of late capitalism. He says that “the libido (sexual energy) is primarily invested in subjectivity itself”. In other words: how to see the other (and fall in love with him) if we are all the time absorbed in ourselves?
As shrewd as didactic, Strömquist satirizes in his comics our unbridled search for knowledge and our compulsion to find experts for everything. In the love field, specifically, we analyze a suitor so logically—listing his faults, pros and cons, comparing him with others, endlessly reviewing our traumas—that we lose the intuitive and emotional capacity to simply choose someone because we want them.
According to the author: “The expansion of the consumer society makes us act as rational consumers and utility maximizers even in our relationships with other people”.
To fall in love, as Alcibiades discovered in the Platonic dialogue “The Feast” of 358 BC, is to sleep with Socrates and come to the conclusion that there is no other person in the world like Socrates. It is, therefore, letting yourself be carried away by otherness and feeling angry when a friend says: “Be happy! You’ll find another one quickly.”
In a society where we only see ourselves, where contacts are serial and superficial (and the sexual partner is a disposable face we drag aside in flirting apps), the ability to be enchanted and love has been annihilated daily.
No one who competes all the time is willing to “fall in love” in front of a competitor.
For men, according to sociologist Eva Illouz, it is already demeaning to see some women working more, earning more, sending more, so the only way to still believe they have any power over them is to distance themselves: “the control men once exercised at home it has been transferred to sex and sexuality, and sexuality has become the domain where they can express and display their authority and autonomy.”
Don’t read this book for a logical explanation of the breakup of a relationship or for ways to control your feelings. Read, just and solely, to remember how good it was to surrender to the mysterious force that is love.
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