In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

p r e f a c e : a n e w k i n d o f l o v e In Hermann Broch’s 1931 novel, The Anarchist, the protagonist, August Esch, wanders through the hallowed halls of the head offices of the Central Rhine Shipping Company, having recently accepted a job there as an accountant . He stops short upon reading a woman’s name on one of the seemingly endless office doors and felt a sudden desire for the unknown woman behind the door, and there arose in him the conception of a new kind of love, a simple, one might almost say a business-like and official kind of love, a love that would run as smoothly, as calmly, and yet as spaciously and never-endingly, as these corridors with their polished linoleum. (59) This ‘‘new kind of love’’ is not only hatched in the heart of Esch but linked to a world-historical condition via an experience we could dub, with a nod to Kafka, the bureaucratic sublime. It is a cold love. A smooth love. Balanced in the same fashion, and according to the same principles, as company accounts. As Broch makes clear, in some obscure way this new kind of love is linked to gender and can quickly switch into a different mode: But then he saw the long series of doors with men’s names, and he could not help thinking that a lone woman in that masculine environment must be as disgusted with it as Mother Hentjen was with her business. A hatred of commercial methods stirred again within him, hatred of an organization that, behind its apparent orderliness, its smooth corridors, its smooth and flawless book-keeping, concealed all manner of infamies. And that was called respectability! (Ibid.) And so, on the one hand, we have that ancient principle ‘‘love,’’ and on the other, we have a new genus, perhaps a genetically modified strain, develPAGE ix ix ................. 16234$ PREF 10-19-06 10:43:26 PS x Preface oped in order to survive modern economic exigencies. Such a new species of love has different names according to different agendas. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri call it ‘‘affective labor,’’ while Zygmunt Bauman calls it ‘‘liquid love’’ (a symptom of so-called liquid modernity). But whichever name this mutation of feeling masquerades under, it prompts us to examine the mysterious relationship between longing and be-longing in an era often characterized as isolated, discordant, bankrupt, godforsaken, and even inhuman. Within this rhetorical context, it is worth speculating whether love is the only discourse still available to us that is capable of salvaging singularity in a late capitalist epoch, or whether it is rather a case that ‘‘love’’ has become (or perhaps always was) a decoy that lures us into a libidinal economy no less indifferent to individual suffering than the macroeconomy overseen by the IMF and the World Bank. Love today is performed and assessed not so much in an age of cholera as one of BSE and CJD, pathogens created for us by a cannibalistic regime of ‘‘mechanically recovered meat’’ (a technical term from the abattoir industry but equally appropriate for almost all other kinds of commerce, of which the dating and entertainment industries are only the most obvious). Hence, Stendhal’s famous definition of love as a ‘‘crystallization’’ has taken on a sinister meaning in a time when one bite of a hamburger can lead to a very literal crystallization of brain tissue (1975). Several questions emerge from such ambient conditions. Is love a fetish? Is our emotional surrender to the phrase ‘‘I love you’’ a disavowal, in the Freudian sense, or a delusion, in the Marxist sense? Is this institutionalized form of desire the addictive element which is actually poisoning the fragile ego-system of twenty-first-century social life? And yet, I do not simply want to regurgitate that particular strain of Continental philosophy which can be boiled down to the statement ‘‘Things may not have been better before, but they are certainly getting worse.’’ There is sensible work to be done, sleeves to be rolled up, paradigms to be dismantled. For instance, we often ponder the meaning supporting the Ur-sentence ‘‘I love you.’’ Remaining faithful to a kind of Howard-Jones effect, we have concentrated most of our efforts on the word ‘‘love,’’ rather than questioning the ‘‘I’’ and the ‘‘you,’’ as if the bridge were more important than the PAGE x...

pdf

Additional Information

ISBN
9780823248131
Related ISBN
9780823226689
MARC Record
OCLC
156286842
Pages
256
Launched on MUSE
2012-02-08
Language
English
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.