A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

[BRIEF NOTE] The End of Love?

While chatting with a co-worker about the novels of Michel Houellebecq and that writer’s profoundly skeptical take on the human condition, we decided that the whole concept of romantic love has been steadily whittled away, at least ever since 1856 when Gustave Flaubert‘s Madame Bovary came out. The idea of love as something transcendental and eternal, something capable of enduring in a materialistic society, has since been in decay.

I wonder if we–or, at least we materialistic First and Second Worlders–have outgrown love. Considering the admittedly small and perhaps unrepresentative world of Anglophone popular music, the most recent love song that I can think of is U2’s 1987 “With or Without You”. Most other love songs tend to run along the lines of Shakespears Sister’s “Stay”, where the narrator fears the loss of her beloved not for the beloved’s sake, or for the future of love, but rather because of what the end of love will do to her. Björk‘s “Army of Me” is arguably a love song even more unsympathetic to the potentially departing partner. Even “With or Without You” spends much time on the suffering of the narrator faced with the threat of lost love.

Love isn’t so much transcendental and eternal in popular music as it is situational and temporary, it seems. Perhaps it always has been and we’ve only gotten around now to noticing it. Or am I wrong? Tell me, because I’m still a bit of a soppy romantic at heart. (Then again, Houellebecq does write well, or at least interestingly.)

Written by Randy McDonald

September 30, 2005 at 4:55 pm

Posted in Assorted

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