Beauty is a very indefinite concept, every person has a different idea of what they view as attractive. So when an entire civilization of people collectively define such a word; an automatic categorization of the physical appearances, personality traits, fashion sense, social class, and attitude of the people separates and divides them into what is acceptable and what is not. By doing this, we are taught to desire certain people that fit into these specific traits.
But does that change the way we love? It creates a hesitation in the search for love, as well as a feeling of disobedience when going against the social expectations of how love should progress. But love can be experienced in different ways, and because of that, there are multiple types of love. So one form of love may be more influenced by the need for social acceptance than others, but I want to determine if even the purest form of love is also somehow influenced by the social constructs placed on humanity. With this enforced desire to conform, a new sense of hesitation in today’s pursuit of love has developed.
People are not as willing to fall headfirst into something they cannot control. This reflects a large portion of western mindsets; the need for everything to be planned ahead and avoiding as many risks as possible unless there is a greater chance of a successful outcome. In the book, In Praise of Love, by Alain Badiou, he criticizes how love has become not just more capitalized, but has also been given a safety net that protects people from any possible disappointment or hurt in love.
“The first misappropriates the title of Marivaux’s play, The Game of Love and Chance. Get love without chance! ’ And then another says: ‘Be in love without falling in love! ’ No raptures, right? Then: ‘Get perfect love without suffering! ’ And all thanks to the Meetic dating-site… That’s their pitch and it’s fascinating that the ad campaign should adopt it. ” (Badiou, 6-7). In order to keep up with this growing need for control, love has been capitalized as something that can be arranged, organized, and scheduled without any fears or stress from the individual. But why is there such a fear of blindly falling in love?
There are many reasons why one would prefer this method in a society that both idolizes and fears love. They are both guaranteed an opportunity to look for love over and over again with no repercussion, and they can do all this without even having to meet the other person face to face. There are no risks or consequences when they don’t connect with the first person they match with, they just move right on to the next person. “At the moment when this Two appear on stage as such and experience the world in a new way, it can only assume a risky or contingent form.
That is what we know as ‘the encounter’. Love always starts with an encounter. ” (Badiou 28) If this statement is true, then is it still possible for people who meet through such a restricted and organized match-maker to still experience this ‘encounter’? Or is the intensity of this encounter merely decreased to multiple different encounters. “Seen from this perspective, I really do think that love, in today’s world, is caught in this bind, in this vicious circle and is consequently under threat… It cannot be a defensive action simply to maintain the status quo.
The world is full of new developments and love must also be something that innovates. Risk and adventure must be re-invented against safety and comfort. ” (Badiou 11) In A Lover’s Discourse, Barthes considers how no matter what, there is still societal influence in every encounter. “This ‘affective contagion’ this induction, proceeds from others, from the language, from books, from friends: no love is original. (Mass culture is a machine for showing desire: here is what must interest you, it says, as if it guessed that men are incapable of finding what to desire by themselves. ” (136-7).
At the beginning of this section he defines induction as “The loved being is desired because another or others have shown the subject that such a being is desirable: however particular, amorous desire is discovered by induction” (Barthes 136), which emphasizes the notion that society decides what is attractive and worthy of pursuit. But why does this matter? Without this push from outside sources, is it possible that love would be more scare, or even less successful? ? ? ? Without a constructed society, would love flourish like it has?
Even though it does seem to hold certain constraints, the socialization and unity society brings may possibly be what makes love more accessible. In Stendhal’s Love, he addresses this alternative idea, “Society, with its brilliant parties, helps love by making this first step easier… A whirling waltz in a drawing-room lit by a thousand candles will set young hearts afire, banish shyness, bring a new awareness of strength, and in the end give the courage to love. ” (Stendhal 61). It is possible that societies influence in romance is what actually makes love more accessible.
When comparing this with modern society, just between Barthes and Stendhal, there is a definite difference between how people socialized then and now. So a possible argument against Barthes’ criticism of the modern way people search out love, it should be considered that it has changed only because the rest of the world is changing as well. The romance that bloomed in lavished parties with extravagant waltzes lit by candlelight has merely transformed into meeting through social media or in a bar on a Saturday night. “When love’s troubles are mixed with others.
It is only superficially that love is increased by the difficulties. Since they engage the imagination elsewhere, they prevent the crystallizations of hopeful love and the growth of little doubts in requited love. The sweetness and the madness of love returns when these difficulties are removed. ” (Stendhal, 62) There is a distinct, unwavering, pattern of love that is only altered, encouraged, or diminished by certain outside sources. In Stendhal’s steps of love, crystallization, or the reassurance that the love of the beloved is returned, is very important, and can, in general, make or break a relationship.
According to Stendhal, if a person isn’t sure whether their love is returned, the love cannot be crystallized. In this quote, he states that people and situations outside of the relationship can cause this crystallization to suffer by raising doubts and causing other ‘difficulties’. How much does beauty influence how much one loves another person? Philosophers such as Stendhal and Finkielkraut state that the awareness of beauty is what defines how much one loves another.
They state that physical beauty can draw two people together, but once love is solidified, it is purely a connection between two souls that look past their exterior appearances and bond with the beauty they find inside. But it is also considered that visual attraction is not only the starting point of love, but what determines whether it will happen at all. What it all depends on is the acceptance of the two lovers’ peers and social constructs. “The object of desire must be beautiful, and most importantly, others must accord it this supreme distinction… But passion breaks with Beauty, even though Beauty gave passion its start.
Once won over by love, the subject gives up the visible and is in the face alone. It now matters little whether gossip and the needs of prestige justify his choice. He is liberated at once from Beauty and from conformity, no longer shackled by public opinion and its images that, in normal times, compelled him with irresistible fascination. ” (Finkielkraut 33). You become so entranced by the person, you notice them more as a piece of art that is always moving and changing. “The beloved model does not stay still; and our mental photographs of it are always blurred,” (Finkielkraut 30).
Though beauty may be defined by the surrounding society, it is possible that love only exists when you don’t see, or subconsciously look past the exterior beauty of a person. As Stendhal states, “If one is sure of a woman’s love, one looks to see whether she is beautiful or not; if one is doubtful of her heart, there is no time to inspect her face. ” (67) ? ? ? There is always a possibility that the love that abides by society’s rules is only a certain type of love, one that completely transcends these restrictions and forms and thrives from just the two individuals with no outside interference.
Types of love that depend more on society’s approval would only fall under Stendhal’s vanity love, Rousseau’s amour-propre or possibly nothing farther than desire. Vanity love is a selfish love, a desire to have the best objects and women, seeing them more as possessions than equals. This type of love Desire is generally defined as the want for something better for oneself, whether that is to get something, get rid of something, or to stay where things are currently good.
Rousseau’s idea of amour-propre, or self-esteem, is defined as “a relative sentiment, artificial and born in society, which inclines each individual to have a greater esteem for himself than for anyone else, inspires in men all the harm they do to one another, and is the true source of honor. ” (4). To Rousseau, love seems to be composed of both physical and moral parts. But only certain, more intelligent and civilized beings, can understand and experience the moral parts. Having originated from said society, the moral part of love is the method and practices used in order to pursue love between two people.
But this love is highly driven by society, and can often be controlled by the society’s norms and expectations. So if these are the types of love are driven by society, what are the types that ignore or look over these limitations, which push the social taboos and pursue the love that involves nothing but the two in love? It is possible that the reason such a love exists is because, as stated earlier, this kind of love goes past the exterior and exists only when two souls touch without any outside interruption. ? ?
Culture and society may have power over many constructs of our lives, but when something as profound as love begins to grow, that control begins to slip. So even though society decides what is deemed attractive and worthy of pursuit, what has been found is that generally, though some types of love may depend more on the opinions of their society, in most cases love starts through the influence of peers and societal norms, but it has the possibility to go past that into a love that goes past the limitations placed, such as the constant focus on beauty and social status and opinions of peers.