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2013 Fall Issue 7 (November 8, 2013)

"Love" and Other Ambiguous "Things"

November 8, 2013
By Jacob Hoerger

So for the first time this term we have more space in the Viewpoint than we have articles to plop in (I’ll cut y’all some slack given the 8th week workload you probably have…), which means I guess I’ve got an hour and a half to come up with 800 words on a topic I’m hilariously unqualified to write about: the Carleton hook-up/dating scene. Should be fun.

If you’re like me, all those hours spent on AOL Instant Messenger in middle school turned us into superbly good typists. Unfortunately, this also caused the development of any kind of spontaneity with members of the opposite persuasion to really suffer. On AIM, and later on Facebook, smartphones, etc… we read through and edited our words twice over so we didn’t come off like the shallow, cliché, adolescents we were. Through these mediums we said things we were way too timid to say in person.

Luckily, by college we’ve all realized how new media slowly turns us into shallow, socially schizophrenic potatoes and so we’ve adjusted how we use it accordingly (okay, so maybe the Class of ‘17ners have a little way to go…). Still, once we’ve accustomed ourselves to the newfound discovery called Human Interaction we face the further challenge that we’re not sure we really believe or know or know how to talk about what “love” is.

Really, we all should appreciate the comedy that is we Carls fumbling to describe our feelings towards “significant others.” Let’s go down the list of some of words we use: “Relationship” sounds too corporate. We need someone to write a Carl article so we know how to use “hook up” right. “Dating,” “boyfriend,” “girlfriend” – that’s like 1950s. “Soulmate?” blehhh. I guess the term we’re leaning towards more and more is the wonderfully unambitious word “thing.”

But we still haven’t quite got to talking about what “love” is yet. Certainly none of us would be caught dead holding on to that concept called Romantic Love, which we view either as idolatrous or annoying. There is no such thing as ideals anyway, the prophets of post-modernism tell us, only ideologies.

One thing we liberals, since the ‘60s, do assert strongly is that the answer to this question ought not be determined by creepy white male politicians and corporates. Three cheers for that. But after we rescue our sexual organs from the grips of political and social necessity …

We are terribly vague people nowadays, and it’s always hard to tell when this vagueness is because we have some profound insight about the transience of language and identity or because we’ve become lazy, shallow people incapable of meditating on a feeling long enough to turn it into … well into what? What are you supposed to make this kind of feeling into -- Babies? Poetry? Memories? Ha. Orgasms...?

Incidentally, perhaps for every four speakers Carleton brings in to talk about Orgasms and Contraception it ought to consider at least something about Babies – if only to show we aren’t so scarred about not being PC that we don’t go anywhere near what will become a large part of at least some portion of some of our lives (or at least it was for most of our parents’).

So sexual liberation necessarily strips us of any sort of presupplied metaphysical content, and so we deliberate about our “love lives” with the (non)chalance we use when thinking through our options at Chapati buffet. We can’t actually take seriously our hope that our mistakes and hookups and waking up hungover in random places and spaces and so forths will produce much besides good stories to talk and write about unless we can sum up enough of our magic liberal arts juice to pull out one of those “new ways of forming identity” that the Marxists keep promising me. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, we should just recognize it for what it is.

Alright, we’re at 600 words and we’ve got 5 minutes and we still haven’t said what love is. It’s nothing other than reaching out at night and finding another person who points to that thing irretrievably missing, that thing which never was and never will be in the center of what you used to call your self.

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