How different family structures and beliefs make life (non)easy for lesbian and bisexual women
When I started LL Passion website I initially wanted to publish this article. It is about different notions of family structures and in connection to society's organization/structure. It is also about how and why societies change over time and last but not least it is about why it is good to have knowledge about history. History is to a degree connected to my work on philosophy of love and emotions and last but not least how all these are connected to society's attitude towards lesbian and bisexual women? Please bear with me while I make a rather long introduction to the latter topic.
I therefore begin this article with French historian Emmanuel Todd whose work I became familiar with a few years ago. Todd's work shows evident correlation between family structure and a particular social system of each country and how we could use these to establish an inclusive and happy societies that would enable a better acceptance of differences among nations.
For instance, he talks about that French family has an equal relations between family members and that power is horizontally distributed which correlates with France's social system that promotes equality, liberty and brotherhood-sisterhood, Germans, on the contrary, form a family structure with a strong father figure where power is vertically distributed which makes a country with strong leader and other's subsequently follow. It is nation that is highly organized, disciplined, hard working and follow rules, French on the contrary can't be so easily lead because they are more 'fluid' and have a high value of freedom and equality. And third example is England which is somehow in the middle of the French and German family structure. Todd then lists which nations within EU have one of the three family structures and claiming that if we better knew these different structures there would be more fruitful dialogue, understanding and acceptance within EU members and not only within EU but also in the world. I trust his findings because he clearly has a distinctive method that can be validated and results repeated and verified.
I like the fact that if leaders would take into account his findings that there would be more understanding on achieving a possible long-term peace, equality, tolerance, modernization, solidarity and prosperity. It goes along with my thesis about which family structure and especially which attitude towards children upbringing enable a more democratic, free and equality system. It is so called a model of nurturing parent (caring father and/or caring mother) contrary to a strict father model. First pursues democratic and another authoritative family and societal model which I am going to talk about in the end of this article.
There is another great French historian from which we can learn a lot about human undertaking is Ferdinand Braudel – he explored human history and evolution of Europe from the economic and cultural point of views from 12th to 18th century in his book Civilization and Capitalism, 15th–18th Century. His findings based on the statistics show a view of the role of the large-scale socioeconomic factors in the making and writing of history. He established a view that great changes happen over a long-term period, long-term socio-economic cycles. And last but not least he established a view that time does not run in all parts of the world with the same pace but according to its socio-economic development. The consequence of this was his suggestion of having three different kinds of development that represent three different 'time' zones in congruence with certain geographical areas – thus he composed the terms, developed countries, developing countries and the third world countries each representing their state of economic development.
Braudel described his approach as "structure and conjuncture." Structure refers to the major underlying features driving historical processes. These include natural features such as geography and climate but also human features such as demography, major economic trends, and technological innovation. Conjuncture is the interaction of structural features among themselves but also with institutions of human societies and contingent events that produce the actual sequence of events recorded conventionally as history. Braudel aimed to connect structure with conjuncture and to a considerable extent succeeded. He is clearly shown that with greater economic development and managing mortality come smaller need to have big families and that quality over quantity of life matters and that with better life the life span of people is longer, people are more educated, healthier, have better jobs, better family relations and so on.
Contrary to Braudel, who thinks that great changes in human history happen over a long-term period, we have a another French historian, Francis Furet in his book Interpreting the French Revolution shows such as in the case of French revolution that great change in human history can happen in a very short period of time and that those events can change the stream of history for good. He argues for his thesis via historical events in French history, most notably the French revolution.
And then we have another one of my favorite French historian, Georges Duby who combines a verifiable method with great writing style in combination with intuition. Why also intuition? Because he often times write about people's lives which are remotely distant from our times and it is difficult to imagine how someone could actually live in for instance 12th century as he brilliantly depicts famous real and fictional female figures, such as Eleanor of Aquitaine, Mary Magdalen, Héloïse, Iseult and others in their domestic and social life, but even more how they are depicted in culture and in legends as well. He wrote about the aforementioned in his books Women of the Twelfth Century and The Knight, The Lady and The Priest. Reading his works is almost like reading a poetry but knowing that what he writes it has credibility. I also like Duby because he represents a new way of history which depicts life of people instead of the nation(s), everyday customs and habits over wars. My plan is to read books on History of Private Life, from Pagan to Modern World where is Georges Duby one of the three series editor. Despite Duby writes a lot about women I have no illusion he is a progressive feminist as I could notice from being one of the four editors of the five books on The History of Women in the West which I all read. The History of Women in the West is overall a valuable professional compilation of views on life of women from ancient Greece to Modern times. If you wish to know more about medieval times you can read Jacques Le Goff's Medieval Civilization 400-1500.
Another well-known French historian is Phillipe Aries, while I am not familiar with his overall opus because I read only his book on French family life in 16th century, called Centuries of Childhood: A Social History of Family Life. It is well written and it certainly makes you think how the term 'child' was coined only in the enlightenment period and what it meant at that time and how that influenced our perception of child and childhood. It certainly is interesting to learn how child was unrecognized as a child before 17th century.
It is obviously I prefer French historians over Anglo-Saxon. Maybe because I was acquainted mostly with them through my university education. From Anglo-Saxon historians I mostly appreciate Halperin, Dover, Vlastos and Nussbaum. I have to speak with great approval of Dover's book Greek Homosexuality. As a heterosexual man himself he meticulously tackled the issue of Greek homosexuality when most of the historians in his time were still pretty homophobic, not to mention that his work is great. A person gets a real good insight what ancient Greeks deeply and highly valued and gets a good insight how Plato was indeed very different from the rest of ancient Greek society. Another great historian and sociologist is David Halperin. I read his very good article on Why is Diotima a Woman – Plato's imaginary woman in Symposium whose role was to teach Socrates about his new concept of love in Halperin's excellent book One Hundred Years of Homosexuality. His other interesting work is What Do Gay Men Want? Gregory Vlastos book on Plato's work Platonic Studies is also very good and insightful to learn about Plato's work.
But why I actually started writing this short expose on history is to tell that I expect that soon the system we are currently living in will somehow start dissolving into more egalitarian, more humane system. Namely, even Albert O. Hirschman in his excellent book The Passions and the Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism before Its Triumph presents the reasonable warnings against crude capitalism by several philosophers and to an extant even Smith himself at the outset of the capitalism in 17th century. If a great production and consumerism is not in congruence with moral sentiment there could be a potential danger that we people can become trading goods and become dehumanized by economy. And what damage crude capitalism has been doing is seen in the environment, (higher) education system (there is a great book by philosopher Martha C. Nussbaum, 2012, Not for the Profit), health system, family and love system etc. Her other books about Greek philosophy and life are The fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy, he Therapy of Desire: Theory and Practice in Hellenistic Ethics. So, I am expecting that we will eventually experience some important changes in our social system(s). I honestly believe that a model of so called a socially responsible economy will hold and if we won't go this way then we are headed to a new form of socialism. A new social order which would through structure prevent from the corruption and much more equally distribute the profits and wealth to all people and prevent too high inequality differences among people.
Another, thing that humans need to truly realize that one of the biggest 'enemies' of humanity and humanities are ideologies, any kind of ideologies, be it political, economic, spiritual (and/or religious), scientific – but the worse of all is being convicted that you are something so special and 'above'.... This totally differs from having a moderate high-esteem and being a self-confident. If you are self-confident means that you love yourself as much as you love the others, while thinking of being superior above anyone else is having all love for yourself while despising the others. You see others just as means through which you achieve your ends because such person can't cooperate on the emotional and intellect level but on blackmail, intimidation, submission, manipulation, lies and deceits. I must also honestly admit that I don't like people who does not wish to have educated, healthy, strong, tolerant people who are very well aware of the differences among people, nations and cultures and try to use ignorance, prejudices, double morals, bigotry and fear of unknown for hate, conflict, revenge and war agenda. And this also totally differ from being a good, true, honest leader. Leading is not only about bureaucracy, administration, accounting but also wisdom, knowledge, experiences, foresight, peacemaking, wise diplomacy, education and alike.
I am also for secularism. A while ago I read a promising research the journal Current Biology on different outcomes of child's upbringing according to parent's beliefs (be it religious or non-religious). I am truly happy that a study shows that what is the important are actions and behavior, not beliefs! Research showed to the contrary of the ordinary prevailing beliefs that religious households would produce more generous, forgiving, warm and sharing children, however the data revealed that children brought up by atheists are much more heart-felt, generous, sharing and forgiving. The main conclusion from the study is: Religious doctrines typically urge the faithful to treat others with compassion and to put the greater good before selfish interests. But when it comes to generosity, nonreligious kids seem to be more giving, according to a study of 1170 children from around the world. Children from religious homes - particularly Muslims - also showed a greater inclination to judge someone’s misdeeds as wrong and punish the perpetrators. »Our findings support the notion that the secularization of moral discourse does not reduce human kindness. In fact it does just the opposite,« says Jean Decety, a developmental neuroscientist at the University of Chicago, in Illinois, and the study’s lead author.
Let me cite some more from the study: »According to a new study published in the journal Current Biology, children that come from non-religious households behave significantly more altruistically than those from religious households, as measured by greater acts of generosity towards others.That’s 84 percent of the total population who hold a system of beliefs that provides them with moral instructions. It is safe to say that for many of these people, religion - at least in part - shapes their behavior and general outlook on life. Religious parents teach their children scriptures as moral lessons, hoping to instill values that will cause them to be honest, just, fair, and for just about every major religion, compassionate human beings. However, somewhat ironically, the world’s foremost religions also teach these children that if they fail to behave in the instructed way, they shall receive punishment from an all-powerful being—and in some cases, eternal damnation. Some pretty heavy stuff, right? So the question is, do religions really cause individuals to behave more morally? What about children brought up in atheist households, who have no metaphysical motivation to do good? Would they act kindly to others when there are no direct benefits to them, or will they behave like “godless heathens”? A team of scientists decided to experimentally test these intriguing questions directly under controlled laboratory conditions. Over 1,100 children, aged 5 to 12, from the United States, China, Canada, Jordan, Turkey, and South Africa were chosen to participate in the study. Most of the children came from Christian, Muslim, or non-religious households (510 Muslim, 280 Christian, and 323 nonreligious children). To test whether children raised on religion would behave more morally than non-religious children, they were asked to play what’s called a 'dictator game'. The findings not only show that religious kids aren’t more altruistic than non-religious kids; it suggests that not being religious may actually increase moral behavior. To most this would seem counter intuitive,« is written at Science website (https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/11/nonreligious-children-are-more-generous).
The study also showed that children from religious households were more willing to give harsher punishments to people who committed acts that harmed others, like pushing or bumping into another. Although this could be interpreted as showing that religious children are more concerned with justice, it may also demonstrate that non-religious children are more tolerant of others’ behavior, and more willing to forgive. What this study makes strikingly clear is that religion and morality are not one and the same. In fact, in some instances those who don’t believe in God might actually behave more altruistically. And since they wouldn’t be doing it out of a fear of being punished, but instead out of what some might call “the goodness of their hearts,” one could argue that they in fact have higher moral standards. But perhaps the best lesson of the study is that it should be your actions (and behavior) that define your morality, and not simply your beliefs.
The same findings prove on the nurturant parent vs. strict parent. The strict parent (or father model) is modeled according christian model and the nurturant parent on democratic, caring, loving, emphatical, moral model. The study proved that children from nurturant parents are morally better behaved then children from parents from strict father. The following is excerpt from the article by American philosophical G. Lakoff and M. Johnson:
“The Nurturant Parent Model. > Nurturant Parent: In the Nurturant Parent progressive family, it is assumed that the world is basically good. And, however dangerous and difficult the world may be at present, it can be made better, and it is your responsibility to help make it better. Correspondingly, children are born good, and parents can make them better, and it is their responsibility to do so. Both parents (if there are two) are responsible for running the household and raising the children, although they may divide their activities. The parents' job is to be responsive to their children, nurture them, and raise their children to nurture others. Nurturance requires empathy and responsibility.
In the Nurturant Parent family, the highest moral values are Empathy and Responsibility. Effective nurturing requires empathy, which is feeling what someone else feels -- parents have to figure out what all their children's signs mean in order to take care of him or her. Responsibility is critical, since being a good nurturer means being responsible not only for looking after the well-being of others, but also being responsible to ourselves so that we can take care of others. Nurturant parents raise children to be empathetic toward others, responsible to themselves, and responsible to others who are or will be in their care. Empathy connects us to other people in our families, our neighborhoods, and in the larger world. Being responsible to others and oneself requires cooperation. In society, nurturant morality is expressed as social responsibility and that is why nurterent parents are more inclusive and accept diversity. This requires cooperation rather than competition, and recognition of interdependence. Nurturant parents are mostly atheists.
Liberal Metaphors for Morality
This model of the family induces a very different set of moral priorities, which can be characterized by another set of metaphors for morality. Here are those metaphors:
Strict Father: In the conservative worldview, it's assumed that the world is, and always will be, a dangerous and difficult place. It is a competitive world and there will always be winners and losers. Children are naturally bad since they want to do what feels good, not what is moral, so they have to be made good by being taught discipline. There is tangible evil in the world and to stand up to evil, one must be morally strong, or “disciplined."
In the 'Strict Father' family, the father's job is to protect and support the family. Children are to respect and obey him. The father's moral duty is to teach his children right from wrong, with punishment that is typically physical and can be painful when they do wrong. It is assumed that parental discipline in childhood is required to develop the internal discipline that adults will need in order to be moral and to succeed. Morality and success are linked through discipline. This focus on discipline is seen as a form of love -- "tough love."
The mother is in the background, not strong enough to protect and support the family or fully discipline the children on her own. Her job is to uphold the authority of the father and to care for and comfort the children. As a "mommy," she tends to be overly soft-hearted and might well coddle or spoil the child. The father must make sure this does not happen, lest the children become weak and dependent.
Competition is necessary for discipline. Children are to become self-reliant through discipline and the pursuit of self-interest. Those who succeed as adults are the good (moral) people and parents are not to "meddle" in their lives. Those children who remain dependent--who were spoiled, overly willful, or recalcitrant--undergo further discipline or are turned out to face the discipline of the outside world.
When everyone is acting morally and responsibly, seeking their own self-interest in a self-disciplined fashion, everyone benefits. Thus, instilling morality and discipline in your children is also acting for the good of society as a whole.
In Strict Morality, the Strict Father is the Moral Authority, determining right from wrong, and protecting the family from a world that is chaotic and threatening. Evil is a major force in the world that must be fought using Moral Strength, which has the highest moral priority. Evil is both external and internal. Internal evil is fought with self-discipline and self-denial to achieve "self-control." "Weakness," and the tolerance of it, is immoral since it implies being unable to stand up to evil. Punishment is required to balance the moral books: If you do wrong, you must suffer a negative consequence.
To make the battle lines clear, here are some contrasting characteristics of the 'Nurturant Parent' (NP) and the 'Strict Father' (SF).
NP desires Freedom
SF desires Control
NP desires Fairness
SF desires Survival of the Fittest
NP desires Communication
SF desires Dictation
NP desires Cooperation
SF desires Competition
NP seeks to Foster Trust
SF seeks to Command Loyalty
NP desires Openness
SF seeks to Limit Information to Those Who Need to Know
NP desires Honesty
SF desires Action
Let me conclude. Why all this knowledge is good for LGBT people and especially lesbian and bisexual women? Because the notions of the nurtured and strict parents can be also applied to what Emmanuel Todd wrote about the difference between different family structures and how these can be used in politics within EU and in the world. We also saw that non-religious people are more open-minded, forgiving, kind and willing to give opportunities to all 'kind' of people. This knowledge of course can be also used and applied in the politics of LGBT people throughout the world. It means that homosexuality is more accepted and appreciated in families where power and authority of the parents are more equally distributed and where love and care are before punishment and discipline. Also countries with such family structures have more laws that protect human rights and rights of free speech and movement and they have laws and recommendations that protect vulnerable groups and appreciate inclusivity and diversity at home, workplace and in general in society. And not only that, the representation of the LGBT people are better and more visible in society which is shown in the numerous TV shows with LGBT characters played by LGBT people, ads including LGBT people and couples, employers more willing to employ LGBT people, LGBT people get more of their projects funded, politicians willing to mention LGBT people and offer more protection for single women (either homosexual or straight).
I Firmly Believe in Animals and Nature's Rights
I was vegetarian for the first time in 1989. It was due to being a member of the spiritual group called Rosicrucians - wearing no leather, being a vegetarian, non-smoker, non drug user were among the conditions to be a part of that spiritual group. However, at that time I was not truly prepared to be a vegetarian and I was vegetarian only for a couple of years until I dismissed being a member of the group. It was dreadful to observe how some members became so immersed into the Rosicrucians doctrine to believe things that were contrary to either common sense or logical reasoning. Then in 2015 I became vegetarian and vegan again and have been vegetarian/vegan since.
One of the best decisions of my life and to this day I agree with what I first read written by Greek philosopher Emedocles (494 - 434 BCE) who wrote about cosmological love-strife principle when studying philosophical concepts of love: „All things were tame, and gentle toward men, All beasts and birds, and friendship s flame blew fair“, he writes (Fragment 130). „Will ye not cease from this great din of slaughter ? Will ye not see, unthinking as ye are, How ye rend one another unbeknown?“ (Fragment 137) and continues: „Hut still is deaf to piteous moan and wail. Each slits the throat and in his halls prepares A horrible repast“. (Fragment 139) ... Ah woe is me! that never a pitiless day destroyed me long ago, ere yet my lips Did meditate this feeding s monstrous crime! Ye wretched, O ye altogether wretched, Your hands from beans withhold!“ (Fragment 141)1.
This clearly resonates with Orphic believes and Pythagorean rules which Empedocles followed. Namely, Empedocles asserts that animal's life has the same value as human's life and as long people are going to kill, torture and exploit animals they are going to be caught in a strife-violence cycle themselves. Even more, until people become vegetarian/vegan they would repeat the past and kept being born into this world/being reincarnated as a punishment. In order to become good people and attone for our violent deeds we should become vegetarians, even better vegans.
As I mentioned Empedocles followed the first philosopher in the West who created a lasting vegetarian legacy and that was Greek Pythagoras (ca. 570 - 490 BCE). While Pythagoras is famous for his contributions to mathematics, music, science, and philosophy, it is his philosophy that is of particular interest. He taught that all animals, not just humans, had souls, which were immortal and reincarnated after death. Since a human might become an animal at death, and an animal might become a human, Pythagoras believed that killing and eating non-human animals sullied the soul and prevented union with a higher form of reality.
Additionally, he felt that eating meat was unhealthy and made humans wage war against one another. For these reasons, he abstained from meat and encouraged others to do likewise, perhaps making him one of the earliest campaigners for ethical vegetarianism. The Greek philosopher Plato (428 - 348 BCE) was influenced by Pythagorean concept too but did not go as far as Pythagoras or Empedocles did. It is unclear exactly whether Plato2 was vegetarian or not but his teachings asserted only humans had immortal souls and that the universe was for human use. Yet, in The Republic, Plato’s character Socrates asserted that the ideal city was a vegetarian city on the grounds that meat was a luxury leading to decadence and war. Thus, to Plato, abstention from flesh is warranted out of a desire for peace and an avoidance of indulgent, excessive living.
Influenced by Pythagoras the Roman philosopher Seneca (c. 4 - 65) was a vegetarian too. Seneca also denounced the cruelty of the gladiator games used by Rome to distract the citizenry and challenged the decadence of his time. Another Greek philosopher who argued on behalf of animals was the biographer and philosopher Plutarch (c. 46 - 120). Influenced by Pythagorean philosophy, Plutarch became vegetarian and wrote several essays in favor of vegetarianism as well as arguing that animals were rational and deserving of consideration. After Plutarch, the Greek philosopher Plotinus (205 - 270) combined Pythagoreanism, Platonism, and Stoicism into a school of philosophy called Neoplatonism. He taught that all animals feel pain and pleasure, not just humans. Plotinus believed in order for humans to unite with the Supreme Reality, humans had to treat all animals with compassion.
Seeking to practice what he preached, Plotinus avoided medicine made from animals. He allowed for the wearing of wool and the use of animals for farm labor, but he mandated humane treatment. Continuing the work of Plotinus was the great Phoenician author and philosopher Porphyry (c. 232 - c. 305). He argued with observational and historical evidence in defense of vegetarianism and the rationality of animals. Porphyry argued meat eating encouraged violence, demonstrated the ability of animals to reason, and argued that justice should be extended to them. For these reasons I am mostly vegan, occasionally vegetarian and because of my animals (3 cats, Anja, Venčeslav and dog, Ron) who all taught me about unconditional love - I am ardent supporter of the animal's rights.
It is interesting to notice the clear distinction among pre-Socratic, Socratic and Stoic philosophers regarding animal rights and vegetarianism. The most notable distinction is that pre-socratic and stoic philosophers believed animals had souls, they can reason and feel, they are immortal as humans and therefore they are not for use, whereas Plato and Aristotle both thought that humans are above everyone else, only humans have soul and everything and everyone is at human's disposal (which will be later used as arguments of christian, enlightenment and modern philosophers).
I believe such different concepts and treatment of animals derive from different concepts of truth and goodness. Pre-Socratic philosophers wrote in poetic verses and argued about the truth very different from today's notion of truth which originated with Plato and Aristotle. Namely, pre-Socratic philosophers argued for the truth as a-letheia ("unconcealedness", "disclosure" or "truth"). The meaning of the word ἀ–λήθεια is "the state of not being hidden; the state of being evident." It also means factuality or reality. It is the opposite of lethe, which means "oblivion", "forgetfulness", or "concealment". Thus, aletheia is distinct from conceptions of truth understood as statements which accurately describe a state of affairs (correspondence), or statements which fit properly into a system taken as a whole (coherence). This definition came into existence with Plato and Aristotle who both argued that in order we can make a good use of someone or something we should be precise and have clear definitions/schematics which can be achieved only with measurements and logic and not through poetry, theatre or singing.
I also believe that animals rights coincades with nature's rights. I have been ecologically aware since 2000. At that time I edited a set of articles on philosophy and the nature. Since then I am mostly deep ecologist according to Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess and occasionally shallow ecologist by French philosopher Luc Ferry. The core theme of deep ecology is the claim that all living beings and things have the same right to live and flourish. This means that the interests of other living beings have to be treated as seriously as the interests of humans. A rainforest, for example, can no longer be regarded as a valueless wood resource. Instead, it is a collection of living beings, all of which have a right to live and flourish.
Nature is said to have intrinsic value. It is valuable even if humans can find no use for it. From a deep ecological perspective, climate change is wrong because it will affect the wellbeing of billions of living beings. Even if we could provide a way of protecting humans from climate change, it would still be a bad thing because many other living beings would suffer. Another aspect of deep ecology is the idea that we should expand our idea of who we are so that it includes the natural world. This is known sometimes as the expanded self. If we harm nature then we are really harming ourselves. Deep ecology rejects anthropocentrism in favour of ecocentrism or biocentrism.
Shallow ecology rejects ecocentrism and biocentrism. Shallow ecologists claim that there is nothing necessarily wrong with the anthropocentric worldview. Nature is only valuable insofar as it serves human interests. This is sometimes known as instrumental value. From this perspective, climate change is bad because it will affect human interests. It is humans that will ultimately suffer if climate change is allowed to occur. Even if there was a way of protecting humans from the effects of climate change, shallow ecologists would still think it was a bad thing. This is because the damage caused to other life forms would adversely affect humans. Damage caused by climate change might, for example, mean that it is difficult to obtain natural resources. The extinction of species may mean that food supplies become harder to find. It might also be that humans would simply not like to live on a damaged planet.
I grow fruits, plants and vegetables in my small garden and cultivate them according to a French enlightenment philosopher, Jean Jacques Rousseau's notion of the garden/farm in Clarens as he wrote about it in his epistolary novel Heloise, or New Julie. There he writes that part of Clarens were cultivated and formed according to human's needs and wishes and part of the Clarens had wild life plants who grew according to their own forms. What does mean in practical terms of my garden? It means that I have a small garden, it means that my garden is surrounded by plants who are not mowed (grass, daises, crowfoot and other plants grow as they like), even my vegetables grow as they like and weeds are allowed to grow for quite some time after I decide to pull them out. My grapes and greengage are wild too.
How I differ from other gardeners is defined not only by the small size of my garden but also because I have no fence around the garden, no hut with tables and chairs on it. I come to the garden, cultivate it a bit, take the fruits and cropp and go. Occasionally I gather wild fruits, such as apples, nuts, hazelnuts. Why I have this attitude? Because nature is not mine and because the earth does all the work, I only saw the seeds and then cultivate the soil a bit. I always leave some grapes on my grape garden because of the birds who like grapes too.
With article I wish to present that the attitude towards the animals and the nature is as important as towards people. It depends on your world-view, your core values, attitudes, beliefs and judgements you hold dear – these motivate your feelings, deeds and actions.
1. The Fragments of Empedocles (link to Questia.com) trans. W.E. Leonard Ph.D., Chicago, 1908. Part 2 says much about transmigration of souls and the Orphic/Pythagorean traditions.
2. Plato’s student Aristotle (384-322 BCE) also felt the universe was for human use and that only human souls were immortal. Additionally, he argued in favor of a hierarchy of beings in which plants occupied the lowest rung of the ladder and humans the highest. In this hierarchy, Aristotle argued that women were lesser compared to men and some humans were natural slaves. As for animals, as Norm Phelps in The Longest Struggle points out, Aristotle reasoned that there was no ethical obligation to animals because they were irrational. Arguing against Aristotle’s views on animals was Aristotle’s pupil and friend Theophrastus (c. 372 - c. 287 BCE), a Greek biologist and philosopher. Theophrastus argued that killing animals for food was wasteful and morally wrong. Hypothesizing as to the origin of flesh eating, he argued that war must have forced humans to eat meat by ruining the crops that they otherwise would have eaten. Unlike his teacher, Theophrastus proclaimed that animal sacrifices angered the gods and turned humanity towards atheism. Clearly, religious arguments have long been used as motivation to pursue a vegetarianism.
Love as a Creative Dynamic Work1
Given that I have written in depth about the dominant Western concepts of love I can say that previous notions or concepts in the Western culture are 'negative' - notions of love that makes a person either never satisfied and fulfilled or demands a tragic dimension that causes someone to die, sacrifice for the others or experience a great misfortune.
Western love works on the principle of 'lack', and 'lack' is defined in various philosophical, spiritual and religious history in various ways, either lack of a primordial or pre-embodied state of the divine soul (Plato, 1960: 102), a reunion of the lost twin soul (Aristophanes in Plato, 1960: 80), a purification of the human body, nature and the restoration of the divine spark (Orphism)2, as a returning and recovering connection with God (St. Paul, 1984: 463), an everlasting desire for unattainable Dame (Villiam IX. Duke of Aquitaine in Novak, 2003: 11), restoring unity of a male and female complementarity (Rousseau, 1959: 388 or 1978: 166) and a restoration of the original family (Freud, 1995: 61). Personally, I am not for any regression to some original state (divine or familial), point zero state, ‘death’ or nirvana.
And in light of the concepts mentioned, we can say that we have came a long way from chanting about finding a lost twin (Aristophanes in Plato, 1960: 80); from chanting about wild and impossible passionate and ecstatic love (Villiam IX. Duke of Aquitaine in Novak, 2003: 9); from chanting about tender, ethereal, sweet romantic love of male and female (Rousseau, 1978: 178); chanting about mother as the source of all love (Freud, 1995: 81) or chanting about love as motivation of Christian self-sacrifice for the others (Paul, 1984: 478) and last but not least to chanting about unbridled sexual pleasures of swinging, BDSM and other diverse tastes (Soble, 2001: 23) to finally reveal new, different concepts of love.
In my opinion, people just like to meet, socialize and unite, not because of biological function (evolutionary biology, endocrinology or medicine) and not because we have to get rid of the 'dungeon' of our incarnation, according to which we are not important as individuals here and now (Orphism, Platonism, Catholicism) and also not because we used to be perfect, divine, complete, eternal, peaceful and happy (Orphism, Platonism, Catholicism, Psychoanalysis).
When and how we could be supposed that since we know only our earthly existence? Our goal is also not to present man as a some kind 'perfect machine' that has 'software' and 'hardware' in it and behaves predictably in accordance with the hardware. If we look at this view, man tends to be a solid, stable, self-contained eternal, complete whole (a kind of jigsaw puzzle made up of parts or as a clockwork made up of gears). But at the same time, it also means that we are not the only and unique (specimen) of our species and therefore nothing special, much less a 'crown of creation', because we are not significantly different from others. We are just a piece of some biological species that can be interchangeable and combinatorial.
Or if I express myself about our nonuniqueness with the example of Socrates and Alcibiades from Plato's Symposium (Plato, 1960: 113). Alcibiades, a renowned soldier, statesman and a beautiful man who could have any man, fell in love with Socrates precisely because he believed that Socrates had a distinguished feature and skill no one else had - he knew how to conjure up every situation in words, a fact or thought (probable or unbelievable, real or fictitious) so that you had a ‘feeling’ as if an ‘imagined' thought or situation appeared before you’ as completely tangible and visible. Alcibiades discovered in Socrates the extraordinary convincing power of words and spirit, which he did not find in anyone else and which, according to him, made him the most attractive and desirable of all men. But we can say that for Alcibiades this remarkable rhetorical and ‘sophistic’ feature of Socrates was so appealing because Alcibiades was a politician and one of the most important abilities of a politician is precisely the ability to persuade convincingly, to display the power of verbal sovereignty and persuasion.
In this one finds a sensible explanation as to why Alcibiades fell so much in love with Socrates and considered him unique, (better than all the others) as he surpassed all other philosophical, rhetorical and sophistic rivals. After all, Alcibiades revealed this motive by offering a bargain that if Socrates taught him these 'agalmas' of his (hidden priceless valuables of verbal persuasion), he would offer him pleasure between the sheets. The human uniqueness called agalma by Lacan is thus revealed by surpassing: (s)he is unique as long as (s)he is better at something from all the others3 (Lacan, 1996: 16). But Socrates himself objects to this notion of uniqueness (agalma) when he tells Alcibiades that he should take again a good look if he may not be mistaken, for Socrates thinks that Alcibiades is imagining things about him and that he is not the way Alcibiades perceives him to be - what Alcibiades is supposed to see in him is a reflection of his desires and beliefs, this is not Socrates as he sees and understands himself (Platon, 1960: 116). Socrates also thinks that Alcibiades is not in love with him at all, but with someone else, Agathon (ibid.: 119) and thus gives us a notion of love as desire driven by the other who responds to our desire (Lacan, 1996: 45). Therefore for the case of agalma or uniqueness of someone as a criterion for choosing someone over someone else, we can say that it is not the foundation of 'true' love too, because we seem to choose someone as the love partner who best suits our goals, desires and intentions and which complements us and (again) makes us whole.
However, on different note, to some degree Plato proposes even more unsatisfying project when he defines love as a desire for someone or something we do not have/not posses. We could say he does not proposes a bargain Alcibiades talks about but perhaps we could say with his definition of desire it would be reasonable to argue that a rich (wo)man desires poor (wo)man, educated (wo)man desires uneducated (wo)man, an accomplished (wo)man desires unaccomplished (wo)man etc. Is that really how and why we love? Even less satisfying project based on desire wanting what we do not have is courtly love. Why would I want to desire another's men woman or another's woman woman and want to cheat on him/her? I would say that despite we have many options to get what we want not all options, like stealing or cheating are allowed.
Why we would desire to steal something/someone because it is forbidden and increase desire/pleasure by wanting something it is forbidden at all? How ridiculous that is we can show by wanting to kill someone for gaining maximum pleasure. However, troubadours propose true love on desiring someone outside their marriage and even more desiring someone unattainable. The latter to a degree coincides with Christian project. Why anyone would desire something we have no knowledge of and experience whatsoever and even call it a true love? The same is with family psychoanalysis project. Most of us did not have a happy, satisfying relationship with our parents therefore it is implausible to want to repeat something that is not successful and does not give us happiness. Why would anyone in the right mind desired partnership or marriage defined in the aforementioned ways? Do we want to buy products that do not work and are broken, do we desire to use services that do not get us where we want, do we use processes that do not enable us making what we want and even less imaginable is that we would pay in advance for something we have no presentation what in fact it is, how it works and what it does. Is this how we behave in everyday life, do we found our businesses and projects on products, services, processes that do not work, they break, diminishes, vanishes? Is this is how we call ourselves successful, accomplished, rich? Would anyone support, follow and hang out with people and finance projects (products, services, processes) that would claim their added value is in their intangibility and unattainability? Would we call such people and their projects as someone and something to be excited, enthusiastic and ecstatic about? I think not.
Therefore we can summarize, if the current concepts of love have shown that a) we cannot have a satisfying relationship on the earth (because our love does not aim at the partner at all, but the restoration of a state-relationship beyond this world); b) even if we reach a partner with whom we can go for love beyond, we die on the earth; c) no relationship can completely repeat/restore the original (family or divine) relationship; d) the first ecstatic and magical moment sooner or later fleets, then the logical conclusion is futility of human endeavour for this kind of successful, functional, satisfying love relationship. In short, all the concepts of love to date hint at, show and even command the failure, unfulfillment, dissatisfaction of a love relationship that is supposed to be driven forward by our quest to finally be happy and content only as a reassured whole. Even more, if we do find the 'right' partner by chance, e.g. Aristophanes' or Rousseau's twin soul/our half or by meeting certain criteria e.g. by being a young, aristocratic, smart boy; being opened to the gracious action of God in us; to commit adultery; being attractive beauty to have a better chance of reproducing genes or to (re)produce a family novel or indulge in an 'oceanic' feeling in the 'womb', then this partnership (again) never benefits to personal happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment of the individual, instead happiness of the both partners is skipped in order to merge into some divine, eternal, perfect, primordial entity/principle.
It should be added that all the mentioned concepts (Orphism, Platonism, Catholicism, Courtly Love, Romance and Family Novel) present love's focus on the 'past' (earliest childhood and youth, previous life or the afterlife or fulfilling a certain function in relation to a partner) as some kind freeze of the life flow into an ideal structure that will not be subject to changes in time – those concepts try to prevent the many tiny and/or huge influences, a variety of experiences (metaphorically speaking in the form of slow turtles, stinging hedgehogs, ferrets, cunning foxes, diplomatic monkeys, strong lions), various scents (fragrant violets, blooming magnolias, sweet roses) and various spices (cinnamon, oregano, marjoram) on the relationship. Due to the incarnation, man has the experience that what (s)he builds, it breaks down sooner or later and that therefore (s)he needs to either work on maintenance or start anew to move things forward in this way man has always a feeling that (s)he moves forward by going a little backward (two steps forward, one step backward, sometimes two steps backward and one step forward).
Summa summarum, we can say that man's definitions of love 'paint' life as unworthy living and that we must give it up in favor of a supposedly better past, an unknowable better future, or even some other extraterrestrial world. I also think that when thinkers included divine into in a human relationship that presented someone as subordinate/inferior or dominant/superior - someone thinks (s)he is better and (s)he should be worshiped by the other, but if both persons are from God, no one wants to worship the other and both expect to be worshiped. And what happens? They distance themselves and do not perceive each other as a worthy equal partner, disillusionment follows from the original fascination, enthusiasm and excitement and relationship breaks up. But the fact is that no one is more or less worthy and it seems that values, such as equality, reciprocity, freedom have always been something that the human race did not know how to handle them in relationships. It seems as if humanity has not yet discovered the non-hierarchical principle of community organization and/or relationships.
But love is an active, equal, free and creative co-creation of the daily pleasant co-habitation of both partners, which is focused mostly on the present and partially on the future, and sometimes it must also learn something from the past (so memory is also important). We wish to be with someone we have a good time with, who is pleasant, kind, humours, does not dominate, cheat, exploit, lie or manipulate. We must emphasize that we are discussing love and loving and not infatuation that is alive as long as the feeling of the first moment lasts, the excitement of the new, which wants to keep this new feeling of the first infatuation with someone again and again. Love ‘starts’ where the infatuation ends, it is a kind of continuation of infatuation and maintaining a partnership that continues to be interesting, passionate, diversified and exciting. In love, the criteria of infatuation no longer applies.
In love, it doesn't matter what and how much you miss or lack, how much a person reminds you of your mother or father, how much spirituality someone does, how much money, education or wisdom they have under their thumb/mind or how unique and different a person is from the others, but simply the ability to accept a fellow human being as her/himself and nurture her/him in a relationship with yourself.
Love is about consciously (maintaining) movement, excitement, setting and achieving everyday small and big goals and desires for coexistence and co-habituation. This is not about ‘chemistry, electricity, construction and transport’, as some like to define love by analogies and metaphors (especially cognitive philosophers, such as Lakoff and Johnson4). Nonetheless I will use one metaphor that describes well why we insist on someone - that is a metaphor of magnet. The person with whom we decide to be in a partnership is like a magnet that constantly attracts us and keeps us close and that is why we call her/him partner (we could call him/her a 'Magnet'). However even magnet can 'worn out' at times, therefore it is even more important what Denis de Rougmont5 calls a conscious decision to hold on the relationship. Namely, Rougemont thinks that chances to meet the exact right partner is like winning a lottery and for this reason he believes that more importantly for maintaining a relationship is our conscious decision to stick to each other no matter what (then endlessly searching for our 'twin soul').
That is why I advocate in my concept of love that anyone can have a successful and happy love relationship (if they really want to). Gender, sexual orientation and sexual identity does not matter either because partners do not have to meet any other (previously mentioned) conditions/criteria except the decision to insist on each other for whatever reason and without harming each other. Of course, that there are certain personality traits that attract us more than the others and it is easier to get along with like-minded people in the long run, but it may be true that this kind of relationship could want some additional 'challenge' and excitement that comes with diversity, although of course there are also differences between similar people. In short, the concept I am proposing does not need halves, it does not need complementarity of differences, it does not need a teacher and a student, it does not need a God, it does not need 'good' genes to be loved and desired – but it does need that each partner is seen, heared, cherished, understood.
No one wishes to be with partner who does not cherish her/him, who is not interested in what partner thinks/feels/does/say and of course partners need to be recognized and accepted, which means, partners stay the way they are since it was that that made someone attracted to the other but at the same time they can grow and become better, precisely because of the relationship in which they are. Partner(s) can encourage(s) him/her to improve, supplement, perfect, grow, upgrade if that is what (s)she wishes for and if that means that partnership becomes more pleasant for both partners involved.
Let be the motto of our partnership that we are happier and/or better people both personally, in partnership, in the family, as well as in the neighborhood, community, nationality, state and, last but not least, in cosmopolitan sense because we love and are loved. Of course, someone could accuse me that this is naive, idealistic and in contradiction with the thesis just given that everyone can be as (s)he is and be loved in such a way regardless of what and how (s)he is. Of course. I'm not saying that each partner has to develop in a specific direction - some simply want to be and stay the way they are; for some it's good to be honest, good and truthful; for others it is good if they are cunning cheaters, calculating and convincing manipulators; for others it is good if they are picky pentathletes and hedonists; for some to be successful business leaders and creators of social trends, for some to be good providers and parents and so on. The partners in the relationship agree on what they want to develop, design, upgrade and improve – there are not upfront and beforehand obligatory formulas, schematics and theories of what is right and wrong, how things should be, how partners should feel, think and do, however the core point is not to harm each other in any way that would cause physical and psychological damage and harm partner's integrity.
So personally, in addition to the excitements and joy of the first moments - the first meeting with the eyes, the first smiles, the first kisses, touches, exchanged words, the first meetings, first intimacies -, I am mainly interested in all other moments that make up the content of our relationships. Why not simply perceive each other as an extraordinary gift that has been entrusted to us as something precious in our lives - something we want to preserve and protect in our lives. Maybe you have not perieceved a newly discovered lover/partner as that way before but you surely get that attitude after you lose your loved one by tragic accident or an act of aggression.
When we realize that beloved one is one of the greatest gifts we can see love as a non-perfect, though sometimes perfect; it may seem non-complete, although it gives a sense of completeness; because it is placed in space-time, it is non-eternal, although it sometimes stretches over everything and becomes and gives the feeling of being eternal; perhaps, after many years of a long-term relationship, it seems non-ecstatic, repetitive and boring, although it can sometimes still be very ecstatic, inspiring and enthusiastic; though sometimes disappoint, it can also make you fulfilled; perhaps to a certain extent it gives a feeling of full commitment and thus (non) freedom, but it gives all the freedom within the committed relationship; sometimes because of certain differences it seem to exist a non-understanding in relationship, although through the seeming ‘veil of clouds’ it sometimes offers an abundance of understanding and empathy; sometimes it triggers conflicts, but through them it triggers the desire to communicate and resolve them, and therefore grows and builds a relationship into a dialogue; sometimes we are very close to each other, then something takes takes us away and we become distant for a while and which makes us want proximity again, and last but not least, sometimes we seriously think about how it might be better with someone else, and then an event occurs that reminds us how happy and grateful we are to have such partner. In order for latter to occur it is best we have a realistic outlook on our partner from the start and not initially place her/him on a pedestal to crash her/him later by throwing her/him off the pedestal and change for another person to worship. It is important to understand we are all just humans with our strengths and weaknesses and that no one is perfect, including us.
Love is precisely the coexistence of partners in all dimensions and understanding that it is part of the personal, partner and family coexistence that makes us happy and which creates us even more successful, diligent and hardworking person than we would otherwise be. Thus in love defined this way, there are no right or wrong partners, no partners destined to meet, no losers or winners, but if I express myself metaphorically only 'runners' for short or long distances. The latter are the most interesting to me, as the power, force and quality of love is shown by 'the long-distance runners'. For love happens and is happening, and it is therefore not a single event (the first moment, the first meeting, the first confrontation, the first kiss, the first quarrel or misunderstanding occurs and everything ensuing in the relationship is happening over and over again).
As we said before, it is important to understand the difference between infatuation and love, infatuation occurs, love is happening. They say it’s hard to get to the top, but staying on top is the hardest - the same is with love, it’s relatively easy and quick to enter into a relationship when you’re in love, but to stay in it for a long period of time is like surfing the ‘wave’ (as long as possible) - on a 'wave' from which you can easily 'fall' (as proved by the large number of divorces in the first years after marriage) and more importantly that if you 'fall' you should quickly return to the wave, catch the rhythm again and (as long as possible) continue surfing - this is the art of love (of the long runners) and this is the art of life, one of the biggest 'constants' of which is change. And maybe that is why one of the things I have noticed in a partnership is that people often want 'innovation' and change as if the nature offers innovation every day. In nature, innovations are rare, so are in human history of love concepts.6
Thus my concept of love does not strive for eternal and perfect harmony and equalisation of differences within similarities but it also does not seek constant change and excitement through novelties; it does not want to get the other person in permanent possession but it does not use her/his shortcomings and mistakes to feel confident and (forever) desirable, last but not least, it does not use partner for her/his own worship, salvation and exaltation, but each of the partners live and coexist with her/his advantages and disadvantages, strengths and weaknesses7.
Also, the partners do not want to merge and reunite, although living together and orgasms in sexuality give a feeling of unity, however meeting, choosing and being together as partners were made on everyday, mundane event when a mutual friend introduced them one evening at the annual film festival (this is completely arbitrary event, but at the same time a probable and realistic idea of a meeting. Of course I could also decide to present an extraordinary event or place that gave their first meeting a rather special meaning): despite they were both single, they were not really looking for a new partner, they happened to be in the same place at the same time when they met and started conversation initiated by mutual friend and through conversation found out they perceived each other pleasant, interesting and attractive.
Therefore they are not together because they are sinful, untrue, half, sentient, and would use each other as a means to an end, such as cleansing, salvation, merging, or even raising a social status (which I haven't mentioned yet it is one of the oldest prevailing idea for partnership). Therefore 'this' pair is together because partners found each other by coincidence, but nothing would be wrong if they didn't find each other, they would just meet someone else. It is important, however, that when they found each other, they decided to stay together because they found each other attractive, enthusiastic, exciting and interesting.
This decision was not made on the ground what they should do together, without excessive ambition what to expect from each other (this constant burden with the function either of reproduction or status relationship has burdened partnership and marriage for millennia, although I should emphasize that in this concept sensuality and sexuality are as important as spirituality and intellectuality), but it all happened spontaneously: if they decided to marry and have children they got it, if not, they do not; if they attend social and cultural events together, it’s okay, if not, it’s okay too; they may not even go to film festivals or other cultural events together anymore, however if they agree to still doing it, that’s fine too; if they have business together and that suits them, it is okay to do business together, if they are for diversity and inclusiveness it is okay. They still think for themselves, dream and fantasize in each their own way, but since they have been together, they share thoughts, dreams and fantasies about some things and also make them come true together, and this is to their greatest joy, satisfaction and fulfillment. They have never felt so happy, joyful, free and self-fulfilled with anyone, each of them is for themselves and at the same time they have each other so they can grow and fulfill their dreams and desires together and achieve their individual and common goals.
In short, there is no big reason why they stayed together - they might not, but they said to each other why not and sticked to their decision to maintain the relationship because they like and love each other, their touches and kisses are delicious, sensual and passionate, they like the way they smell to each other, their tone of voices resonate with each other and they like the way they talk to each other, their thoughts and beliefs are similar, they like what they do professionally, as well as their education and general outlook at life. And so they happened together and each for themselves - everything they (did) and what happened to them has been love - that is, to be together in good and bad times (they listen to each other, support and encourage each other, understand and empathize with each other)!
But at the same time, this does not mean that their relationship is a matter of 'sole spontaneity and coincidence', the most important is, as it has been said, the decision: after the infatuation fades the most important is the decision to continue, work and insist on a partnership (for better or worse). Work includes adaptability, patience, persistence, trust, kindness, conversation, humor and creativity – that is which gives the most success, happiness and satisfaction in a partnership. Therefore we can rightfully say that love is creative, intellectual, philosophical, sensual, and sexual work – it is something as going with the flow and at the same consciously deciding, shaping and co-deciding, co-shaping the flow. In fact, love as creative and dynamic work shape different forms of meeting, exchanging, socialising and coexisting between people which include profound and subtle proximity and intimacy. There are other forms of socialising and meetings, such as business association, social organization but only love includes intimacy and profound proximity.
Of course, there are different love forms, intimate socializing and coexistence between people: one night stand, occasional, casual meetings, infatuation, open relationship, polyamorous long-term or monogamous long-term relationship and different forms of partnership according to sexual orientation and sexual identity of people, heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual, pansexual or asexual partnership. Some character traits, values, beliefs and judgements of the partners also contribute to a happy, successful, fulfilling and long-lasting partnership - similarity of the character, similar values and beliefs indicate greater success and happiness of a partnership. But, of course, too much similarity is not good either, as it can contribute to boredom, thus some diversity is also important, which means that love expresses a certain degree of 'slight imbalance', thus maintaining the dynamics, creativity and desire for progress and improvement, as opposing to imagined ideal partnership where strive for perfection8 suppresses the dynamic and leaves no room creativity. Slight imbalance creates a complex structure of partnership, a structure whose connections are not so easy to see and decipher, as would appears at the first glance, which makes relationship more fulfilling, interesting, wise and requires more communication, knowledge, experience, investment, effort, insistence and cooperation.
Therefore the proposed love structure is a structure of creativity and dynamics, semi open structure of different possibilities that arise and test the pleasantness of different and similar beliefs, values, views, touches, tastes, contacts, encounters and coexistence. In addition, it is a relationship that favors a successful, fulfilled, and happy long-term partnership or marriage (with or without children).
In this way, my concept has little or no connection with any of the tragic notions of love (for example, the ancient, tragic, courtly or passionate concept of love) and even less with any of the sacred notions of love, as I am talking about a completely everyday working partnership for here and now, which is based on philosophical ethics and in no way relies on ‘miracles’, ‘irrationality’, ‘complementarity’ or vertical ‘hierarchy’. Partners who do not intend to get together and/or coexist and make each other happy and offer satisfaction, pleasure, support, understanding and empathy, have nothing to do with each together. Also this relationship allows everything that both partner mutual agree and where consent is the most important and relationship is valid to cease to exist if (verbal, physical, financial) violence, disrespect, neglect, cheating and disloyalty is involved.
And let me add another aspect to this: when love is given as coexistence, whose function ('instruments and compass') is not given in advance, such love is (can be) also as a 'free adventure and innovation' and discovery of hitherto unknown personal landscapes' (thoughts, emotions, actions), but that does not mean that it is not serious and binding for both partners. Therefore, all those who are not ready for this kind of 'creative dynamic adventure' love, in which hunting lions, prickly hedgehogs, slow turtles, cunning monkeys and trapping crabs, metaphorically speaking, can lurk on partners both from outside and inside should avoid such kind of a 'progressive' relationship and stick to a more 'traditional' relationship.
Thus I may say that my concept of love offers no special, ecstatic, alleviating feeling as well as neither commanding, universal or hundred pages long debating about the depthness and wideness of love but what offers is creativity, dynamics and sort of 'adventure' because this kind of love involves active creative partners who negotiate, consent and work on the type of the relationship they mutually agreed with aim of one and only one motive, that the partnership would be happy, peaceful and satisfying for both partners and would not allow violence, abuse, inequality, exploitation, cheating, manipulation in any way whatsoever.
Why I argue for such position? Because people in partnership may experience some sort of abuse, manipulation, inequality, cheating and exploitation and all sorts of emotions preeceding these, from envy, jelousy9, to anger, sadness and alike. Personal love has typically been seen (not only by philosophers) as a source of a moral danger because of its partiality and form of vulnerability it involves, which make a connection with jealousy9, envy, anger or any other emotion and the role these tumultuous experiences play in thought about the good, and the just of romantic relationship itself.
Let me conclude. Until now, the concepts of love were mainly those that did not give instructions how to make partners truly happy and satisfied. I have mentioned such concepts several times, precisely in order to make people aware of them and not to repeat them. I also tried to make my concept simple, understandable, dynamic and creative, so that people could include their own vision, knowledge, experiences and wishes into it - thus it is also inclusive, diverse, free and democratic. And as this concept of mine does not reflect big words and ambition, I do not think people in general have big ambitions, ideas, desires, and efforts about love either, and I do not believe they have ever had. However, there were certain individuals throughout history who had a certain vision of love, but at the same time they were also very good PR people themselves or had friends who took care of their public relations opinion and in this way made lots of people aware of their vision of love.
And as Plato said in the Symposium and we keep forgetting it, the fact is that in every age there are always several different concepts of love (today more than ever before), but only one concept usually prevails. Plato did not answer why this happens, but I think it is precisely because some are better and more convincing in self-promotion than the others, and this is aided by general social circumstances that are more conducive to a particular concept of love at a certain period of time. I hope that my concept will also appeal to nowadays readers.
1 Despite I had two long-term ex-girlfriends I most learned about the unconditional love (to care, protect, love, feed and be with them and for them all the time) my three animals, dog Ron, cats Anja and Venčeslav. They have been my true companions. Namely, I have been single and without friends since January 2009 therefore this article is dedicated to my aforementioned animals.
2 Orphism contains the predisposition of the doctrine of Eros, as can be seen from the central myth of Zagreus or Dionysus. This myth speaks of Zeus' decision that his son (Zagreus or Dionysus) would take over the world. But when Zagreus was still a child, he was captured by the Titans and devoured by them. Zeus punished them for this by striking with lightning and destroying them. He then created the human race from the ashes of the Titans. The latter part of the myth is interesting to us because it contains an explanation of human dual nature that is both similar to the deity and in a hostile relationship with it. This dual nature explains man's double origin: created from the ashes of the Titans, humanity dislike God, but because there was also something divine in their ashes (remains of devoured Dionysus), there is also something divine in Man. Man thus belongs to two worlds by his origin: he is an earthly being with a titanic nature which has a divine spark in him. This divine element must be freed from the shackles of the earthly and sensual body. Namely, in order for the divine mind or divine soul of man to return to the divine life he must free himself from the sensory and earthly shackles. In Orphism, for the divine soul, the path of salvation is the path of purification and catharsis with the purpose of the final union of the soul with its divine origins. Or to put it another way: man is a descendant of God, with the rational part of his soul being part of the divine cosmic reason. All a man has to do is remember his original state, know the true self, and ascend to the deity (Nygren, 1953: 163–164).
3 Like love is some kind of olympic discipline who is better lover/partner from the other.
4 Lakoff, George, Johnson, Mark 1999. Philosophy in the Flesh, NY: Basic Books.
5 Rougemont, de Denise 1956. Love in the Western World, NY: Pantheon Books.
6 On the list of the above-mentioned concepts, dating back to 2,400 B.C. there are only three innovations, the rest are modifications of the previous concepts.
7 After all, how imperfect we are is revealed by the very mentioned concepts of the halves, teacher-student, child-mother relationship, etc.
8 In fact, perhaps this world never wanted to be made in the ‘perfect image’ (and being aware of the imperfections of this world, some people imagined a perfect divine afterworld). This world expresses an essentially creative, dynamic, evolutionary principle through ‘slight’ imbalance' and as we have not yet discovered and do not know, for example, a perfect washing powder, perfect toothpaste, perfect technological or IT product, so we also don't know the perfect love, partnership and the perfect partner. In fact, we do not even have an idea of what is supposed to be perfect and thus we imagine the idea of perfection in relation to the previous known level of (im)perfection(s) - what we know are 'partial' 'perfections' and what we have so far been able to determine according to the descriptions as superb, excellent, great, well, bad, deficient and invalid. In short, the success and happiness of a relationship can only be measured in the relative sustainable form of partnership as mutually agreed ‘good/great configuration of a particular relationship’. However, this still does not mean that we do not measure the longevity of a partnership by the desire for a long-term partnership or that other forms of partnerships are less successful and happy. They are less successful only relatively - if partners only want casual meetings, it is successful and happy for them; if the partners want to swing and meet other partners, or be in a long-term monogamous or polyamorous relationship then such types of relationships are happy and successful to the mentioned types of partners.
9 Emotions suggest also a central role for the arts in human self-understanding: for narrative artworks of various kinds (whether musical, visual or literary) give us information about these emotion events and emotional histories that we could not easily get otherwise. »This is what Proust meant when he claimed that certain truths about the human emotions can be best conveyed, in verbal and textual form, only by a narrative work of art: only such a work will accurately and fully show the interrelated temporal structure of emotional 'thoughts'« (Nussbaum, 2001: 22). Narrative artworks are thus important because of what they do in the emotional life. They do not simply represent that history, they enter into it and educate people about the emotions.
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Rougemont de, Denis 1956. Love in the Western World, NY: Pantheon Books.
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques 1978. Julija ali nova Heloiza: Pisma zaljubljencev
iz vasice pod Alpami, Knjiga 1 in knjiga 2 (Julie, or the New Heloise, book 1, 2), Zagreb: Naprijed.
— 1959. OEuvres completes, Paris: Gallimard.
»The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth - it is the truth which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true.« J. B.Read Now
Westworld (2017- )
»The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth - it is the truth which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true.« Jean Baudrillard
Despite The Westworld (Joy, Nolan, USA, 2017-) doesn't have any lesbian or bisexual character(s) I decided to write about it due to a brilliant strong, leading women and its feminist contents. And not only that, I love it for its ardent argument for atheism and uncovering it as nothing mere as a human invention and need for protection. What kind of protection? From human beings itself. It seems that salvation seemingly comes from the same kind of inventions which would supposedly help humans loosening burdens from everyday life 'terrors' people inflict upon themselves. It shows why people and not environment and nature are the source and cause of their perils.
Therefore I am writing about it because there are nothing but superlatives regarding this brilliant TV-show: script, directing, acting, mis-an-scene, costumography, computer programming, technology, all are outstanding. It also brilliantly shows the core of the western civilization without making it other then it is: lust for power, money, hierarchy and dominance achieved through knowledge, manipulation, deceptions, technology, sheer violence and destruction of everyone that gets in the way of achieving the goals.
The main story of this show is about rich and powerful people with its influential corporations and advanced computer programmes and technologies to use it for social engineering: managing people, entertaining and/or rehabilitating them. Through technological and entertainment industry (also military industry) we see how elites have zero moral compass in reaching their goal(s) or objective(s). It also shows that human race is obsessed with what Sigmund Freud described as death (and its derivative term aggression) drive. Have you ever thought that this death drive obsession is most obviously seen in the biggest economies, military, computer programming (for instance stock exchange, crypto currency are now run mostly by computer programmes) and computer games 1? Have you ever thought that this obsession is seen through 3000 years of history, endlessly repeated which shows wars2, (strategies conducted by tzars, kings, generals, deans and their faithful warriors), death, famine are the most prevailing in human civilizations.
If women were the most expandable and usable in all those senseless war scenarios in the Westworld series women come out of these as its winners - the ones who survive all that brutal, senseless lust for death, power, status and money: be it in the relationship of a brave mother Maeve Millay (Thandle Newton) who would do anything to protect and keep her daughter safe; daughter Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood) who found out the truth about her father and would do anything to protect his secret and to figure out how to use it in order to destroy her creators (human species that made her as a toy pleasure of perverted users/abusers who let her die again and again) and finally be the director of the virtual entertaining park Delos, Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) who makes herself as an immortal virtual clone. The same virtual clone company Delos offering as virtual people for use and pleasure.
Show also presents human lives in simulacrum as seen in virtual parks, much like Disneyland or Eurodisney, as Jean Baudrillard writes in his book Simulacra and Simulation, The Precession of Simulacra 1, 2 (1981, 1994) and by simulations of different human periods also offers a pastiche of human experiences as Frederic Jameson describes in his book Postmodernism (1989). Most of all, it shows human fascination with 'glorious' virtual humans who have consciousness of real people yet they are eternal and whose sole purpose is to give visitors of the parks the highest pleasure by reenacting their secret desires. If UK series Humans (2014-2017) shows 'vulnerability' of the virtual humans because they can exist only one generation, the technological clones in the Westworld have potentiality for immortality, they have an ability to be endlessly improved towards perfection. To a degree, this idea reminds us of Immanuel Kant's idea of history as endless progress towards virtue and societal improvements (Kant, The Conflict of the Faculties) as shown in the third season of Westworld when Dolores wants to make a revolution by erasing human species and build a society led only by virtual humans. If human endeavour for immortality isn't one of the biggest contradictions ever I don't what it is: first making all those senseless, endless wars in killing people for power and accumulation of wealth (also through science and technology) to make people immortal in their virtual immoral versions?
However, this show is not only about technological improvements and advancement of the society: it also portrays brutality of the entertainment industry which this show is part of, therefore it reveals the truth of the entertainment industry itself too. How far it would go and what it would do to give pleasure, satisfaction and happiness to its clients, users, viewers. Again, we watch through different characters how human beings behave when they expect something they paid for and again people as clients have no morality when it comes to that (they behave the same as elites).
In my opinion there is no way to 'justify' such people's/human behavior regardless how you try to do it and that is why it is so brutal to watch the show and learn the truth about human species regardless the show being about 'virtual humans' who are only pieces of technology and computer programming to be rebooted, built anew, changed, upgraded, recharged or simply put asleep mode when proved to malfunction (there is a pile of garbage of non-usable virtual humans in the cellar of Delos entertainment park). Actually what the shows tries to do is to metaphorically represent the history of human mankind through different archetypal roles and how they became self conscious and overturn their ascribed roles and became antagonist to their previous roles – this is definitely true for the main character, Dolores (daddy's girl who is good, obedient) who becomes the leader of the revolution with aim to destroy human race as her creator when she becomes aware of her ascribed role and what her 'masters' did to her over and over again. This could be read as different phases in evolution of human society: in early periods there were ascribed roles, such as kings, queen, princes, princesses, subjects, traders, warriors, farmers, slaves. Slowly but surely people made several social revolutions and overturned once strict roles and create their own 'fate', 'fame' and 'fortune'. The same happened with Delos entertainment park characters.
However the main point of Delos entertainment park is that it was designed for adult virtual human experiences of all sorts of desires and pleasures, the same kind as the Disney park is designed for giving pleasure to children and adults. In my opinion what this shows does best is reflection of the intellectual and cultural attitude shift of the postmodern society in which according to Baudrillard has become so reliant on models and maps that we have lost contact with the real world that preceded the map and this is definately true for season 3. Reality itself has begun merely to imitate the model, which now precedes and determines the real world: »It is no longer a question of imitation, nor duplication, nor even parody. It is a question of substituting the signs of the real for the real« (The Precession of Simulacra 2, 1994: 8).
Baudrillard is not merely suggesting that postmodern culture is artificial, because the concept of artificiality still requires some sense of reality against which to recognize the artifice. His point, rather, is that we have lost ability to make sense of the distinction between nature and artifice. To clarify his point, he argues that there are three »orders of simulacra«; 1) in the first order of simulacra, which he associates with the pre-modern period, the image is a clear counterfeit of the real; the image is recognized as just an illusion, a place marker for the real; 2) in the second order of simulacra, which Baudrillard associates with the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century, the distinctions between the image and the representation begin to break down because of mass production and the proliferation of copies. Such production misrepresents and masks an underlying reality by imitating it so well, thus threatening to replace it (e.g. in photography or ideology); however, there is still a belief that, through critique or effective political action, one can still access the hidden fact of the real; 3); in the third order of simulacra, which is associated with the postmodern age, we are confronted with a precession of simulacra; that is, the representation precedes and determines the real. There is no longer any distinction between reality and its representation; there is only the simulacrum (The Precession of Simulacra 2, 1994: 10-20).
And the Westworld shows the third notion in its glory when we learn that Westworld real human society is running by the computer model(s) simulation based on chaos vs order theory and that that simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being or a substance. The Westworld society is a generation by models of a real without origin or reality, a hyperreal, where people who do not fit into the abstract mathematical computer model are seen as disputers and deficit and therefore should be treated and corrected accordingly; a society where humans can't be discerned from their virtual human versions.
What is at stake in Westworld society3 is therefore more sinister then anything else because it is a society no longer based either on real human beings, territory or maps. Something has disappeared, the sovereign difference between them that was the abstraction's charm (it is a true irony that Serac asks Maeve Millay, a virtual human for help in order to win the war over virtual humans they have built them in the first place). For it is the difference which forms the poetry of the map and the charm of the territory, the magic of the concept and the charm of the real. This representational imaginary disappears with simulation. With it goes all of metaphysics. No more mirror of being and appearances, of the real and its concept; no more imaginary coextensive. It is no longer a question of imitation, nor of reduplication. It is rather a question of substituting signs of the real for the real itself. Baudrillard claims this goes goes back to religion and the simulacrum of divinity: »l forbade any simulacrum in the temples because the divinity that breathes life into nature cannot be represented,« writes Baudrillard.
But what becomes of the divinity when it reveals itself in icons/images, when it is multiplied in simulacra? Does it remain the supreme authority, simply incarnated in images as a visible theology? Or is it volatilized into simulacra which alone deploy their pomp and power of fascination - the visible machinery of icons being substituted for the pure and intelligible Idea of God? This is precisely what was feared by the Iconoclasts, whose millennial quarrel is still with us today. Their rage to destroy images rose precisely because they sensed this omnipotence of simulacra, this facility they have of erasing God from the consciousnesses of people, and the overwhelming, destructive truth which they suggest: that ultimately there has never been any God, that only simulacra exist. That is exactly what Serac's brother claims when Serac says that God has abandoned them when the destruction came and killed everyone they knew and was dear to them and he replies that there has never been any God in the first place and that it is only a human invention.
And to prove the point of postmodern simulacra even more we can add another point. Delos entertainment park with its models embodying different archetypal types of women (perfect innocent daughter, daddy's girl, faithful loving woman, loving, feisty mother, whore) and men (protective daddy, gangster, cowboy, pimp, warrior, soldier) from different history periods who can be used, reused, abused, murdered and sacrificed countless times for living out desires and fantasies of their clients perfectly presents what Frederic Jameson calls pastiche: »Pastiche is, like parody, the imitation of a peculiar or unique, idiosyncratic style, the wearing of a linguistic mask ... But it is a neutral practice of such mimicry, without any of parody's ulterior motives, amputated of the satiric impulse ...« (Jameson, 1989: 17). Jameson sees this turn to »blank parody as a falling off from modernism, where individual authors were particularly characterized by their individual, 'inimitable', unique styles. In postmodern pastiche, by contrast, »modernist styles ... become postmodernist codes« (ibid.), leaving us with nothing but »a field of stylistic and discursive heterogeneity without a norm« (ibid.). In such a world of pastiche, we lose our connection to history, which gets turned into a series of styles and superceded genres, or simulacra: »The new spatial logic of the simulacrum can now be expected to have a momentous effect on what used to be historical time« (ibid.: 18). In such situation we can no longer understand the past except as a repository of genres, styles, and codes ready for commodification and that is exactly what each season of the series presents either through past, present or the future characters. Therefore Westworld series is much more truthful about our (postmodern) period of human history then anything we have seen before and it also might bear some of the (strongest) predictions of human future. And this is for starters, writing about the notion of ethics poised in the series requires a whole other article!
1. Anyone who plays computer games knows its most popular, enduring and most developed and invested genre is RPG action simulation where the only or the main objective is to kill (all) enemies (for this reason I could play only Heroes of the Might and Magic, Age of Wonders and Northgard which are RPG strategy games. I mostly play adventure games).
2. It is insightful and meaningful to learn that history as a discipline and university history departments started its research into everyday life of ordinary people (its customs, way of life, thoughts, creeds, beliefs) only at the beginning of 20th century. It took humanity to shift its focus from fighting and war to at least a bit of living almost 3000 years. It took another hundred years to refocus from men's to women's history.
3. We can rightfully claim, that in 'reality' Disneyland is a model of all the entangled orders of simulation. However, one of the best presentations of simulacrum of the third order is a place called Mima in Swedish science fiction film Aniara (2018). Aniara is a spaceship who transports people from Earth to Mars in three weeks. Mima is a computer program simulation of nature and serves as a wellness-program on spaceship to which people attend when they wish to relax. Namely, Mima is designed to evoke viewers' experiences of Earth's lush, verdant past in a way that is indistinguishable from reality. When Mima shuts/breaks down, its computer administrator, one of the main characters, makes a computer simulation that simulates Mima. One of the crew tells about this endeavour as creating the simulation of the simulation.
And what is best with Aniara is that the two main female characters are lovers and the only love story presented in the film is a lesbian love story!
Emotional Aspect of Lesbian Representations in TV Shows or Films and Its Impact on Viewers
I ocassionally read short reviews of TV series on Lezwatch TV. Here is what recently caught my attention on the series Station 19. »This was beyond the usual TV relationship angst, it was cruel. Also, many folks on Twitter thought Carina was about to say, 'I love you.' before Maya lashed out. … I am so tired of getting emotionally invested in ships to have them ripped away. This one was particularly devastating because the characters had such great chemistry and seemed to have worked through their relationship-ending issues episodes ago ...« (Tracy Levesque, May 11, 2020) And »I’m a very forgiving person, and just like Carina forgave Maya, I forgive Station 19 for the mean episode before this one. Sometimes I get frustrated with myself for getting so emotionally invested in fictitious queer characters ...« (Tracy Levesque, May 18, 2020).
Which film(s) or tv series make(s) the biggest impact on you is where your focus is at certain moment of life, however there are films or series which makes 'pleasantly' surprise by unexpectedly 'touching' you on different levels regardles of your current focus which makes film or series in particular memorable. You can remember film(s) or TV series in regard to beautiful visuals, action paced, socially engaging or emotionally involvement with the story and its characters. For years I remembered visually stuning but emotionally cold and story wise cliché film In the Mood for Love (Kar Wai, Hong Kong, 2000), action paced and feminist spy thriller Atomic Blonde (Leitch, USA, 2017), socially intruiging La Haine (Kassowitz, France, 1995) and Monster's Ball (Forster, USA, 2001), both showing stereotypes, violence and discrimination based on race and different ethnic origin, cognitive engaging Rashamon (Kurosava, Japan, 1950) with presentition of how people differently see and remember the same event and thus how truth is socially constructed and the best representation of what desire is and how it works in Stalker (Tarkovski, Russia, 1979).
Regarding TV series I most love The Westorld (Nolan, Joy, USA, 2017-), Dark (Odar, Friese, Germany, 2017-2020), Counterpart (Marks, USA, 2017-2019) and Äkta människor (Hamrell, Lundström, Swe, 2012-2014) because they are visually, story wise and technically perfectly done and at the same time they pose great philosophical and ethical theories and open questions for the future. They also show the power of great actors and actresses as well as screenwriters and directors.
A totally another kind of great stories are presented in scandi noir crime dramas, such as Broen (Rosenfeldt, Swe/Dk, 2011-2018), Jordskott (Björn, Swe 2015), Trapped (Kormákur, Ice, 2015-) and Karppi (Jokela, Rantala, Porkka, Fin, 2018-2020). All those stories present vulnerable, imperfect, strong and (slightly) odd individuals who are great at their jobs because of their stubborness and oddiness which drives them to look at motives, actions and situations from different perspectives which enable them solving the crimes. Interesting are also political thrillers, such as Borgen (Price, Dk, 2010-2013), Okkupert (Lund, Skjoldbjærg, Nesbø, Nor, 2015-) and Le Casa de Papel (Pina, Spa, 2017-). They all question ethical decisions of the leaders and banksters in a capitalist world.
For love stories the most important is the emotional impact on the viewers and that is exactly what Tracy Levesque communicates in the above quote. Thus it is important to explain why people get so emotionally invested into fictional lesbian or straight love stories either on television, cinema, threatre or novels. After Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote his epistolary novel/novel in letters Heloise or New Julie (1761) and published it chapter by chapter in local newspaper he reported people wrote to him they wouldn't believe that the love story between two main characters, Saint Preux and Heloise/Julie is fictional because readers felt it so real and could relate to it. He reported that some readers felt deeply shaked by the story and some were even crying. Therefore because the story felt so real to them they refused to believe it was a fictional love story.
Philosopher Martha Nussbaum explains emotions from three important standpoints. The first point is to counterpoint the old idea that our emotions are merely primal impulses wholly separate from our cognition. Nussbaum instead argues that emotions are rational and »intelligent responses to the perception of value« (Nussbaum, 2001: 1) and thus include cognition. By 'cognition' she means processes that deliver information (whether reliable or not) about the world; and include also perception and certain sorts of imagination (Nussbaum, 2004: 198). Therefore emotions are value judgments and these judgments must be understood as some kind of cognitive states that allow us to discover values and reasons in the world. Our value judgments, and hence emotions, are a type of beliefs, so they may be either true or false. This also means that emotions are always intentional, i.e. judegments are always about someone or something that has value for us (2004: 188). This is the cognitive-evaluative view of emotions.
Second Nussbaum’s point is that the complex cognitive structure of the emotions has a narrative form — that is, the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and what we feel shape our emotional and ethical reality through stories told in novels, playwrights, television stories. She also claims that all our emotions reflect our personal history and have origin in mother-child relationship. As she writes: »We cannot understand [a person’s] love … without knowing a great deal about the history of patterns of attachment that extend back into [the person’s] childhood. Past loves shadow present attachments, and take up residence within them. This, in turn, suggests that in order to talk well about them we will need to turn to texts that contain a narrative dimension« (2001: 21).
This suggests a central role for the arts in human self-understanding: for narrative artworks of various kinds (whether musical, visual or literary) give us information about these emotion-histories that we could not easily get otherwise. »This is what Proust meant when he claimed that certain truths about the human emotions can be best conveyed, in verbal and textual form, only by a narrative work of art: only such a work will accurately and fully show the iinterrelated temporal structure of emotional 'thoughts'« (ibid. : 22). Narrative artworks are thus important because of what they do in the emotional life. They do not simply represent that history, they enter into it and this is what happens to Tracy Levesque as she becomes invested into the story as it would be hers.
Third point is that emotions are centerpiece of human morality. Instead of viewing morality as a system of principles to be grasped by the detached intellect, and emotions as motivations that either support or subvert our choice to act according to principle as Kant argues, we will have to consider emotions as part and parcel of the system of ethical reasoning. We cannot plausibly omit them, once we acknowledge that emotions include in their content judgments and logic that can be true or false, and good or bad guides to ethical choice. We will have to grapple with the messy material of grief and love, anger and fear, and the role these tumultuous experiences play in thought about the good and the just. Again as Tracy pointed out what screenwriters did to the love story of Carina and Maya – they were at the point in their relationship to declare love to each other, instead they made them broke up and that what Levesque described as cruel. Cruel and unethical is also so many fictional lesbian characters get killed as meaningless objects. That is why as a header of Lezwatch TV website is written: »It has been 2 months since the last queer female death on television: Allison Browne - March 26, 2020«.
However, Nussbaum also means about ethics of romantic relationship itself. Personal love has typically been thought too wonderful to remove from human life; but it has also been seen (not only by philosophers) as a source of great moral danger because of its partiality and the extreme form of vulnerability it involves, which make a connection with jealousy, envy, anger or any other emotion. This interplay of two imperfect beings is the essence of romantic love. And this is what makes someone's ordinary and ordered life extraordinary and make people in love do things they would otherwise never do. As we can watch in films when someone falls in love with someone she would never expected, as in Aimäe & Jaguar (Färberböck, Ger, 1999); when someone cheats (even becomes hooker) because her spouse doesn't have time for her as in film Concussion (Passion, USA, 2013) or even kills herself because her girlfriend broke up with her when it came out they were lovers and girlfriend succumbed to social prejudices, as in Lost and Delirious (Pool, Can, 2001). And precisely because of the emotional impact on the viewers I wrote about the importance of a happy long-term lesbian love and a script about simple long-term love story between two middle aged women with family.
If you look at the database at Lezwatch TV (out of 3815 lesbian characters only 16,7% are played by lesbian actresses and 974 bisexual characters with 15% of bisexual actresses or 82,3% of lesbian characters are played by straight actresses). Honestly, I would rather watch lesbian or bisexual actresses playing lesbian and bisexual characters then straight actresses. Actually, to be honest I am a bit annoyed at straight actresses playing lesbian characters. Instead supporting lesbian and bisexual actresses having jobs their jobs are given to the straight actresses. I would also rather watch a slightly unprofessional acting of a lesbian actress that gets opportunities to improve her acting through playing different lesbian roles then one, two, three great acting by straight actresses.
I am talking about this because I was disappointed when I learned that some of my favorite actresses who played lesbian characters were straight and gonna be straight and I felt that all my emotional and intellectual time and energy invested into them was actually a waste of time. I also see how many lesbians on different forums and platforms fantasize about those straight actresses by making gifs, videos, even songs of them. One such straight actress is Katie McGrath, another is Sara Lance. True, McGrath made memorable impression in the episode of Dates (Chanell 4, 2013) and Secret Bridesmaid's Business (Seven Network, 2019) and we best know her from Supergirl (CBS, 2015-) and Merlin (BBC, 2008-2012). True, Sara Lance from Arrow (The CW, 2012-2020) and DC's Legends of Tomorrow (The CW, 2016-) makes a very convincing, attractive lesbian/bisexual woman however she is straight as she can be. The same is with Diana Agron and her buddy actress Lea Michel from Glee (FOX, 2009-2015) who are both straight and married, Kelly Broke was even compelled to publicly deny being lesbian because of the persistent rumours and assumptions.
Out of 7 recent or current TV series with lesbian or bisexual (leading) characters there are only two lead lesbian characters played by lesbian/bisexual actresses, Batwoman played by lesbian Ruby Rose and Hightown played by bisexual Monica Raymund. There is also non-binary actress Asia Kate Dillon on Billion as Taylor Mason, the first non-binary (one of the three) main characters.
I am telling this because for lesbian and bisexual women proper role models and correct representation are very important when so many lesbian and bisexual women are prone to discrimination and prejudices; so many of them living in poverty, ignored and socially isolated. Therefore can in this sense straight actresses playing lesbians be proper role models? I mean, they never felt attraction, desire or yearning for another woman, even less formed a long lasting partnership or marriage and even family with a woman. And regarding representation? There is loneliness, poverty, stereotypes, ignorance and old age that are almost never presented and also when it comes to screening time in TV series lesbians and lesbian couples have less time then their heterosexual counterparts, and last but not least straight characters never face as many deaths as lesbians do.
Therefore I argue for lesbian and bisexual actresses playing lesbian and bisexual roles/characters. Why not instead fantasize about actresses, such as attractive and beautiful Adèle Haenele from Water Lilies (2006), Love at First Fight (2014), Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019), Saffron Burrows who made a memorable impression of femme fatale in Enigma (2001), Mozart in the Jungle (2014-2018), attractive Portia de Rossi from Ally McBeal (FOX, 1998-2002), Nip/Tuck (FX, 2007-2009) and Scandal (ABC, 2014-2017), cute Dominique Provost-Chalkley from Wynonna Earp (SYFY, 2016-), Kristin Stewart from Twilight Saga (2010), Taylor Schilling from OITNB (Netflix, 2013-2019), even Taylor Holland who was unforgettably funny in L-Word (2004-2009) and D.E.B.S. (2004).
I admit it would be great having Anna Torv, Liv Lisa Fries and Amalia H. Bjelke on our 'team', however (so far) they identified as straight. Therefore I am annoyed when lesbian and bisexual women fantasize about all those straight actresses instead fantasizing about and supporting lesbian actresses and I am sure many more lesbian and bisexual actresses would come out if there were more job opportunities for them. Also, even if they weren't great at first they would become great with more acting.
Having opportunities to work and improve is very important as I can tell from my own experiences as well. When I started writing screenplays for documentary films I had no experiences in writing screenplays at all and I learned it by doing it. I was satisfied only with my third screenplay/documentary and only now I know how to make a good screenplay. Of course there is always space for improvements in writing an excellent screenplay. And why I decided to start writing screenplays? To put my knowledge of love, emotions and sexuality into TV format in order more people get to know it.
However, I must admit that I have experienced some hindrance of my work based on homophobia and misogyny from editors of different redactions (from cultural to educational) on the Slovenian television. I was once even forbidden to use word 'same-sex attraction' from the TV show host and another journalist told me that I wouldn't get a contract for my ideas of lesbian documentaries.
The same was with screenplays for feature films. I started writing it to put my concept of love and partnership experiences into TV format without any previous knowledge. Therefore I wrote and re-wrote several screenplays for feature films before I understood what it makes a good lesbian love story and how to portray a character. It took me three screenplays for feature films and two short films in span of 2012 to 2020 before I wrote my first good screenplay for a short lesbian film and I was turned down by six female straight directors telling me how bad and uninteresting my screenplays were. However, I was persistent. Each time I learned something new about the deficits of the story and writing style, read some more books on writing screenplays and improved my writing until I realized what kind of story and what kind of characters are interesting and engaging.
Of course if there were more producers interested in investing into lesbian films, if there were more market and job opportunities, there would be more great lesbian screenwriters too. And here we go again, producers tell they do not have prejudices and they support all geners as screenplays should be excellent, however I was told that if director wasn't a man or straight female director, producer won't invest money into a lesbian film. And how lesbian screenwriters can learn and improve their knowledge of writing screenplays if producers are interested into investing money only at certain conditions?
I also think great screenplays are written when you really have something to tell. Humans are prone to have an objective of the story, a purpose to tell, and to make schematics/techniques how to convey such purpose. This is best shown in 'traditional' Aristotle's three-act schematics as presented in Poetics. The three-act structure includes the following parts: Act I - Setup: Exposition, Inciting Incident, Plot Point One; Act II - Confrontation: Rising Action, Midpoint, Plot Point Two; Act III - Resolution: Pre Climax, Climax, Denouement. Within each Act is a number of different “points” - a plot event. According to Aristotle, who first analyzed storytelling through three parts, each act should be bridged by a beat that sends the narrative in a different direction. In Poetics, he posits that stories must be a chain of cause-and-effect points: each scene must lead into what happens next and not be a standalone 'episode.'
My main objective for writing a lesbian story has been to present my concept of love that differs from the historical and traditional main stream notions since I started studying and writing about the concepts of love (from mythology, philosophy, art, psychology and biology points of view) in 1993/94. I wrote first article about love in 1994 and several books on concepts of love in years from 2012 to 2020. I also wished to work in film and not theatre since my surname is associated with famous and highly innovative distant relative, theatre director Vsevold E. Majerhold or Meyerhold (1874-1940). When I was younger I was often asked about and compared to this director, therefore I knew I wanted to do something innovative just not in the theatre field. And last but not least, my both grandparents on father's side worked in theatre for a while too and for this reason I also did not wish to work in theatre. My main interests however are in science (logic, biology, physics, geography), even my work in the area of love and emotions has cognitive approach, I value facts and proofs. Perhaps that is why it took me so long to finally write a good lesbian love story that works neither on instrumental value, yet it has logic and structure and also emotional and sex appeal nor on some (outer) chaotic/tragic forces from above or 'vulcanic' forces from bellow trying to disrupte order if not built on instrumental value.
Lesbian community, femme lesbians and types of attraction
I always wondered why people tried to make types of attraction: does anyone has a type, do we have all our types? Does stereotypes and prejudices exist and if yes, does lesbian community has its own? I believe lesbian community has some stereotypes and I have my own type. When I asked former LL Passion writer Frost if she would write an article about prejudices, femininity and lesbians she was somehow reluctant and did not understand why I would want an article about that. I replied why not and if she did not notice that there were certain stereotypes and prejudices about feminine lesbians? She did not, she replied and at the end agreed to write an article and then forgot about it.
However, I believe that 'femmephobia' is not uncommon in lesbian community and that there are unique ways that the negative perceptions of femininity intersect with LGBTQ+ identities as we can also read in the article »Femmephobia: The role of anti-femininity and gender policing in LGBTQ+ people's experience of discrimination« (Hoskin, 2019). Femmephobia exists mainly because femininity is traditionally considered to be a performance for men and as a means to attract the male gaze. Traditional femininity which is positioned in opposition to masculinity and is typically devalued in society, includes the assertion that women should be gentle, submissive, and sexually responsive to men’s advances. For instance, a good example of that is a recent scene of a lesbian couple, both feminine women, when approached by bunch of men making advances towards them in TV series Station 19 (USA, 2018-) broadcasted on 2 April 2020.
As Hoskin states scholars have documented the devaluation of femininity for decades (e.g. noting that women are often taken less seriously in the workplace, are not seen as having the characteristics to lead effectively, etc.) and the ways femininity is socially policed (i.e., women who act outside of traditionally feminine characteristics are often chastised and punished) and that is why I believe that (some) lesbians do not appreciate feminine lesbians because they remind them of the things they wish to avoid and for injustices done towards them. Therefore regardless of the sexual orientation and gender expression women who are more traditionally feminine are perceived to be seeking male attention and/or looking for male sexual partners, whereas when women presented themselves as androgynous or "butch," they are perceived to be lesbians, regardless of their true sexual orientation. Like there is some kind of implicit assumption who could genuinely pose as a lesbian and who not and that is defined according to traditional men or masculine, women or feminine definitions in appearance and behaviour. Such stereotypical assumption is not unique to only those who identify as women. Men who are more feminine in their body shape and/or appearance are often thought to be gay and looking for male attention compared to their masculine-presenting peers, whether or not they identify as such.
This concept is at least two thousand years old and it is the same from ancient Greek to (post)modern structuralist or phenomenology philosophers. It presumes the binary of feminine and masculine, where feminine means weak, body, concealed, fragmented (dispersed), following and also beauty, grace, charm, seduction, attractiveness, being looked at, chosen and desired, whereas masculine means strong, mind (spirit), focused, leading, looking, choosing and desiring. It is astonishing what some philosophers said of women, femininity and which purpose should it serve and how most men did not find intelligent, educated, strong and successful women attractive and desirable. Perhaps the most notorious philosophers to be mentioned in this sense are Aristotle, Rousseau and Freud.
This explains aforementioned notions of femininity and that is the reason why lesbian community is cautious with feminine lesbians. They assume they are not really or honestly part of the LGBTQ+ community and that feminine lesbian are just experimenting, seeking additional attention from and pleasure with women and therefore they are not serious and reliable.
While on one side arguably "passing for straight" may come with some privileges, including being less likely to be targeted for one's sexual orientation, on the other side feminine lesbians often describe a feeling that part of their sexuality and their identity is ignored and not being welcomed for the exact aforementioned reasons and that is why they have continuously have to “come out”, proving their sexual identities and demonstrate that they, in fact, belong in the spaces they occupy.
This sounds to me that LGBTQ+ community indeed have their assumptions about femme lesbians, if not downright prejudices or preferences to who is more welcomed into the community then the other, who best fits into appearance, behaviour and notion of being a homosexual or bisexual woman and who do not. However, looks can be deceiving and feminine lesbians are not only about being fragile, submissive, sweet and 'passing for straight' but also about being strong, independent and influential leaders and this is also where lesbian community falls short of feminine lesbians. As it is again showed in the episode (2 April 2020) Station 19 where femme lesbian (who used to be an Olympic athlete too) proves to be physically stronger then the male when performing the same physical task (push ups) and in this sense defies the notion of the weaker sex. It is also worth mentioning that she plays captain of the whole fire squad/station 19. Sure, it is a fictional representation, however that does not mean there are no lesbians who are in fact feminine, strong and influential leaders on top positions in real life.
I could also tell from my own experiences what prejudices and stereotypes I got from different people when I introduced my ex-girlfriend to them. For instance, a fellow female philosopher commented about my second ex-girlfriend: 'Oh, she is so pretty' in a genuinely surprised tone, like 'she is too pretty to be lesbian'. Another male colleague told me, it is too bad that such a pretty woman is a lesbian, another fellow male philosopher told me what a charismatic woman I was because I dated one of the most desirable women in the town where she comes from, another complimented me for having such beautiful ex-girlfriend like it was some kind of victory/prize to be especially proud of.
As already said, both of my ex-girlfriends are feminine and my ex-lover too. Now when I am finally ready to date again, I am going to certainly look for more feminine lesbians then any other type regarding appearance and physique. The next I am going to look for is her intellectual and educational background, I wish someone whom I can talk and discuss things, events and feelings rationally and with preference for arts too. It is nice she understands creativity and emotions. It is good she is strong, influential and ambitious and not over ambitious and authoritative. Ambitions are good boast to realize our wishes and projects and add to be persistent in realization of our projects and to pursue our relationship, however being overly ambitious it can lead to a break up of a relationship when someone looks only after her interests and desires regardless of what the other wishes too. And last but not least, it is good she is self-confident and feeling good about herself, meaning she lives her life according to her world-view (beliefs and values). Therefore I am looking for a strong, attractive, ambitious and cute femme lesbian. I also stand for those who have been oppressed, violated, misunderstood and exploited for centuries and LGBQ+ community that exclude feminine lesbians holds the same harmful prejudices and stereotypes like men.
Love and attraction is a two way street, however. What is it that makes me attractive and desirable? As Jeffrey Miller in his book The Mating Mind (2000) claims the most attractive feature in humans is their intelligence and its capabilities to high probability of survival and enabling a good (single and/or family) life through heritable/genetics fitness, impressive achievements and (family/societal) improvements or as he says that our mental features serves as fitness indicators for sexual selection.
What exactly are those mental features in humans that make some people more desirable then the others? Intelligence, empathy, creativity, adaptability, persistence, endurance and humor are features enabling to understand the situation(s) and to respond fast, to quickly perform task(s), to appropriately adapt, make a highly effective achievement(s) and be a pleasant company. What kind of accompanying behaviour makes someone attractive partner? Being protective nurturing, faithful, caring, compassionate, loyal, persistent, reassuring, kind and loving. In appearance, being fit and trendy.
What are my knowledge, experiences, skills, activities and achievements? Browse through my Wikipedia and both websites to learn more about me.
What is a Lesbian Partnership and How to Portray It
Sally Wainwright is an excellent screenwriter and director. She wrote some great comedies and family drama, such as At Home With Braithwaites (2000-2003), Last Tango in Halifax (2012-2020), Happy Valley (2014-), Gentleman Jack (2019-) and others. Everything works fine in her work just not when it comes to writing about fictional lesbian characters. For instance, Last Tango in Halifax is great, fun family dramedy, however packed with cliches about lesbians, such as, woman, Caroline (Sarah Lancashire) in her mid 40-is finally admits she is lesbian and gets herself a first real girlfriend, Kate (Nina Sosanya) who wants to have a baby but not through artificial insemination as most lesbians do. She wants to have sex with man she knows him well and on top she dies the next day after her wedding. How many strange features Wainwright could write about a lesbian character? Another prevalent feature in Wainwright's writing is drinking. After Caroline became widow with Kate's daughter, she meets a woman, Olga (Lorraine Burroughs) who sells wine and in the last two episodes of season 5, a famous writer and drunkard, Judith (Ronni Ancona) suddenly realizes she is attracted to Caroline and not her Caroline's ex-husband John (Tony Gardner) with whom Judy previously wanted to get married.
In series At Home With Braithwaites we got to know a lesbian character Virginia (Sarah Smart) who is irresponsible, selfish and a nervous chain smoker, likes to drink beer or wine and is indecisive whom she really wishes to be, with her girlfriend Tamsin (Lucy Whelan) or neighbour's wife Megan (Julie Graham). She works as a mechanic on-and-off besides being a university student. How many cliches Wainwright could pack with this lesbian character again? Why not write about Virginia being a fashion designer student who loves to party and is love with one of her models who is indecisive about being either with Virginia or her model peer? Other then that, series is really a great fun!
I admit once again, Wainwright work is great and this is shown when she wrote and directed about real life, first modern lesbian Anne Lister in TV series Gentleman Jack. Series is done with great wit, dialogues, action and chemistry between two lead actresses Sourane Jones (Anne) and Sophie Rundel (Ann) as her life woman/heroine was highly intelligent, ambitious and strong woman.
I get it Wainwright's motives to write about strong, independent women as I learned through watching interviews with her, I just don't get it why she would attribute the strong, independent and brave women with such stereotypes and prejudices as being dispensable and prone to be played, used, mocked and/or dead.
Maybe Wainwright could learn about portrayal of lesbians by watching Canadian web/TV series Féminin/Féminin (2014-2018) by Chloé Robichaud which is done according to the real life lesbians and their relationships. She could learn and use their experiences when she again writes about fictional lesbian storyline and characters. What I also like about Féminin/Féminin series, besides being a nicely done and very believable, is the fact that Robichaud uses mostly feminine actresses and portrays and promotes feminine lesbians which is rare in lesbian community although widely exploited in straight TV series where lesbian characters are played by straight feminine actresses. According to the Lezwatch TV database of all the lesbian, bisexual and queer characters on TV most of those roles are played by straight feminine actresses and only 15%-17% by lesbian and bisexual actresses themselves. What a waste.
Wainwright could also learn something about female gaze from another great screenwriter and director Céline Sciamma. Her screenplays and films are about lesbians from entirely female perspective. This is especially true in film Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) where almost entire film consists of female characters which consume most of the screen time and not only that, the contents is mostly about love between two women, Héloïse (Adèle Haenel) and Marianne (Noémie Merlant), and other part about sisterhood and female solidarity. Sciamma also explores what does male gaze to young lesbian and straight women in Water Lilies (2007).
However as the art defined by Aristotle (or William IX of Aquitane and William Shakespeare) as either tragedy or comedy Sciamma follows Aristotle's lead and mostly writes about lesbian love stories from tragic perspective. If we look either Sciamma's debut Water Lilies or Portrait of a Lady on Fire both films are about unrequited love despite being great lesbian films. Portrait of Lady on a Fire is certainly refreshing with the absence of male gaze and when compared to so many exclusions of women throughout history almost unique. There have been many areas of social life where women have been excluded, for instance in priesthood, in ancient Greek theatre men played all women roles, even today there are some academic, political and Freemasonry clubs or associations reserved only for men. Therefore I hope next Sciamma's film is going to be again all about female gaze and also a happy lesbian story and the same I wish for Wainwright to write something like that with all her knowledge, skills and experiences.
After all, isn't partnership about social proximity, communication, sharing thoughts, emotions, knowledge and experiences and sharing a nice time, joy and enjoyment together in all our intimacy? Intimate partnerships are not only about their usefulness as defined by reproductivity and upbringing kids and this is where most screenwriters fail on proper portraying lesbian storyline as it seems they can't envision what two women could be properly and usefully do together. Maybe I can give them a hint of looking at homosexual relationships as a kind of 'art for art's sake', as joy and happiness being with someone without a certain purposefulness and of course two women can have family and kids together, many do and have them! However, not everything is about symbolically speaking 'fruits and fruitfulness' if you know what do I mean. And is really everything about boredom and humans can't be happy in the absence of frequent chaos, plague, strife and/or death?! Is this also why screenwriters can not portray a happy lesbian love story?
Therefore, at this point we could 'theorize' why is it that two women are attracted towards each other if they are not primarily together for children or being used by some perverted or tragic destiny? Are there certain features they are attracted to, is it about their physical appearance or work and position, status, maybe talent, creations, ambition or about their philosophical and/or spiritual world-view? Why not about being a good, honest, fair and faithful loving partner and friend who gives/receives pleasure in sharing intimacy, joy in conversing, sharing thoughts, doing different sort of work together and what about being a good person towards each other and to cherish another human being who is in front of us and present before us when some of the aforementioned criteria are met? I believe we are more or less the same when it comes to being attracted to someone, there is a combination of looks, body gestures, smile, education and knowledge, level of proficiency in conversation, ambitions, achievements, hobbies and aspirations that we are usually attracted to in someone. Or in short, we are attracted to a certain appearance/physique and world-view we can connect to. In this way we can get insight into an 'eternity' with being ourselves and with the loving person besides us. Perhaps for some people this may be easily said then done when there are times when we argue and disagree (sometimes someone can cheat too), however if we know how to resolve disputes and are aware that other relationships are going to repeat the mistakes until we correct them therefore it is better to stay with a person you once declared love for and live that 'eternity insight' with her/him (also with this awareness you realize that sometimes quarrels are not that important and often times useless when proving which ego is more powerful, stronger or whatever your point is to win the argument).
Therefore I would go for screenwriters and directors who show happy ever lasting or long-term lesbian love and happy endings. Are there any such writers and/or directors? I am not sure!
There are stories with happy endings, but they show the same plot again and again. Todd Haynes movie Carol (2015) with Cate Blanchet (Carol) and Mara Rooney (Therese) – a standard tale of loveless marriage between a controlling, successful man and a lesbian in 50-ies has a happy ending when lesbian divorces and decides to move in with her newly found female lover who just found out she fancies women too. Another rather standard tale is Imagine Me & You (2006) about just married Rachel (Piper Perabo) who unexpectedly falls in love with her lesbian wedding florist Luce (Lena Headey) and they happily get together at the end of the movie, another same love story is Kiss Me (2011) where Mia (Ruth Vega Fernandez) is about to get married to her longtime boyfriend and unexpectedly falls in love with Frida (Liv Mjönes) and cancels wedding.
Do you see the pattern and why I argue for a female gaze and love between two women who are happily in everlasting love? Hopefully, we won't have to wait too long to see that!
What is Beauty, Beautiful and Invention of Beauty
It is often thought and/or imagined that lesbian and/or bisexual women do not care about beauty and beautiful things. If you actually search through databases on number of well-known lesbian interior, fashion, jewellery and graphic designers or architects compared to for instance gay men you would be surprised to how few there are. I can also confirm this from my younger (from high school to postgraduate study) experiences with fashion, jewellery and graphic female designers as well as dancers and architects. I met many gays and almost no lesbians. Actually to be honest I met only one bisexual dancer when I attended modern dance classes (who at one point became my lover for a brief time. My ex-long term girlfriend is an architect; my used to be best friend from childhood until she went to study and work abroad is a world-known jewellery designer; both of them are very beautiful women themselves).
And as I like design, photography, fashion and dance and I also like everything that is beautifully written my search to find my own style of writing and my aim for scientific and philosophically writing style actually came from learning about fashion and design style. I also wrote about the history of fashion and philosophy of fashion and design and gave a few lectures to high school and university students on the aforementioned topics. My favorite fashion designers are Jil Sander and Issey Miyake. Miyake for his inventiveness in the area of new textile materials in combination with dance and appreciation for the freedom of body. Unlike Western fashion designers Miyake has allowed the cloth and body to be and move according to their natural feature forms (neither body nor cloth are 'forced' on to each other, they move freely and adapt to each other softly and smoothly). Contrary to Miyake, Jil Sander has been everything that is Western: precise and clean cut, body and cloth should adapt to each other perfectly (almost 'forcing' one another to fit), where Miyake shows abundance and inventiveness, Sander shows moderation and modern classic. In design I like most Frank Lloyd Wright, Marcel Breuer, Phillipe Starck and to add Jean-Louis Denoit and Marcel Wanders. Wright for his wonderful combination with the natural elements, Bruer for his Wassily chair and sofa, Denoit for his combination with applying history in design, Wanders for his abundance in creativity and inventiveness and Starck's design again for combination with sustainability. Of course, no one could pass Le Corbusier and although he was highly revolutionary in his designs and architecture, for instance everything in connection with cubus's, from chairs to rooms and buildings, he never was cup of my tee. While speaking of Le Corbusier, architects I like are Peter Zumthor, Jacques Herzog und Pierre de Meuron, Luis Barragán and Toyo Ito. Zumthor for his conceptual thinking and sustainability, Herzog und de Meuron for aesthetics and social urban planning, Barragán for playing with colours, structure (plane surfuces), transparency and shadows and Ito for his grand design of transparency, conceptual thinking and honoring sensei, again like Miyake freely and smoothly allowing different aspects of (social) life to be intertwined. In dance I admire most Martha Graham and Merce Cunninghem, first for her inventiveness and flexibility in body movements and second for his precise and almost rigid movements.
However when I tried to find beautifully written philosophical or scientific work as role model(s) I was again astonished how few world famous contemporary scholars paid little to attention to their writing style. I found for instance, Stephen Jay Gould's The Mismeasure of Man, Georg Duby's The Knight, The Lady and The Priest and Women of the Twelfth Century, Jacques Le Goff's Medieval Civilization 400-1500, Todorov Tzvetan's Frail Happiness: An Essay of Rousseau as a very few academic work written with such passion, creativity, accessibility and rigorous precision that their work is read almost as 'poetry' yet with total credibility. You could also enlist Friedrich Nietzsche's works, however his highly pessimistic and misogynistic attitudes never appealed to me. Interestingly written are also Peter Gay's The Enlightenment: An Interpretation: The Rise of Modern Paganism and The Enlightenment: An Interpretation: The Science of Freedom. And when I got an email in September from an American professor about my article on philosophical concepts of love through history in Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy saying that my article is VERY helpful (his upper caps) and the writing is clear and accessible and one of the better articles on the Internet I think it is partially because of those few scholars who showed me that it is okay to write a highly complex and sometimes 'mysterious' topics in a light, easy, helpful and almost poetic way. It took me almost 20 years to master a beautiful combination of contents (idea) and style (form) and I learned it on my own - nobody guided me, I thought it myself in the era before Internet and like I said according to several philosophical/scientific books and mostly art. The same as I learned many other things, for instance how to write screenplays for documentary and feature films, how to create website(s) or make gif's, logotypes and alike.
And how we can define what is beauty and beautiful? Classical beauty was defined with Egyptian notion of symmetry and golden ratio alongside with invention of make up to hide the imperfections that do not comply with the standards set. If we look at philosophers, for instance Plato would say that beautiful is everything that is truthful and good (ethical), with Immanuel Kant beautiful belongs to human taste and there is not a universal notion of beauty, however he calls something as sublime beauty which is awesomeness and power of the nature that produces an awe in human, in biology for instance Charles Darwin claims beauty serves for bonding and mating and it is shown in bodily features that advertise femininity and fertility and virility and masculinity (big hips, abundant body and symmetry of the face in women, beard and muscle body in men), however in fashion photography for instance for Irving Penn beauty serves going beyond Egypto-Greek model of symmetry while he was looking at real women in real circumstances (something that could resonate with Japanese concept of wabi-sabi that defined beauty in everything that is, from young to old forms, from symmetry to asymmetry, from perfection to flaws, everything is beautiful because this world is the reflection of the divine. For Richard Powell, "Wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect") and for Helmut Newton beauty is re-imagining the classical and glamorous beauty and making women strong, bold and beautiful although someone could also claim some of his beauty perception borderlines to being misogynistic and pornographic; in fashion you have several notions of beautiful, from classical notion which was redefined in postmodern era when it changed from perfect supermodels impersonated for instance in Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer to non-classical real, imperfect beauty impersonated for instance in Erin O'Connor, Karen Olson, Ewa Witkowska and Natalia Semanova. To me beauty is that which fascinates us and we keep thinking about it be it the form of femme fatale, an excellent art, intellectual or tech work. Therefore beauty is not about only physical appearance but personality or contents above all, about someone or something that transcends the everyday average and goes beyond in many ways.