“Love of all things is integral beauty; it has no hate or possessiveness…. So accept love wherever you may find it: It is difficult to recognize because it never asks.”
-Austin Osman Spare
Sexual love, erotic pleasure, is the source of boundless ecstasy, the expression of the infinite divinity of our bodies. It is the very creative energy of the cosmos. When this energy flows through us unchecked, we come to be in love, to desire to share erotic pleasure with the entire cosmos. But only rarely do we experience this boundless energy. Within the bounds of commodity culture, love too is a commodity. An economy of love has developed, and that economy destroys the free flow of pleasure.
The economy of love can only exist because love has been made a scarcity. As infants, we are wild, divine lovers in love with ourselves and with all other beings. But parents steal this from us. They deny the sexual nature of their love for the child and sell expressions of love in exchange for acceptable behavior. They punish or reprimand us for blatantly sexual behavior, calling it bad. They judge us and so teach us to judge ourselves. Instead of loving ourselves, we feel obliged to prove ourselves–and fail often enough to never feel sure of ourselves. Love ceases to be a free gift to the cosmos and becomes a very scarce, high-priced commodity for which we must compete.
The competition for economized love changes us. We lose our spontaneity, our free and playful self-expression. It doesn’t do to act as we truly feel. We must make ourselves desirable. If we are good-looking by cultural standards, we have a big advantage, for appearance is a major part of what makes a desirable sexual commodity. But there are other useful traits–strength, sexual prowess, “good taste,” intelligence, sparkling wit. And, of course, knowledge of how to play the social-sexual games. The better actor wins at these games. Knowing how to put across the right image, knowing just what role to play in what situation–this will buy you economized love. But at the expense of losing yourself.
Few people have both physical attractiveness and adeptness at playing the social-sexual games. So we are left without love except on very rare occasions. It is no surprise that when these occasions arise we do not let them flow naturally, but seek to hold on to them, to extend them. When love is economized, it no longer lends itself to free relating, because the flowing away of a particular lover has come to mean the end of love itself. Instead of relating freely, we seek to build relationships- making relating permanent, hardening it into a system of exchange in which lovers continue to sell love to each other until, at some point, one of them feels cheated or finds an economic relationship because of the fear of losing love- and having to go through the whole process of earning love all over again.
And relationships–being an expression of economized love–are usually supposed to be monogamous. We do not want to lose our lover to another. If we do not agree to only sell our love to each other, might not our lover find a better product, a lover they prefer to us, and leave us? And so the fears induced by the scarcity of love help to create institutions that reinforce that scarcity.
Some people don’t choose the way of relationships. They want to prove themselves to be truly desirable commodities. So they become sexual conquistadors. They want to rack up a high score in the arena of sexual conquest. They don’t care about sharing pleasure. They just want to create an image. And those who fuck them do it for the status as well. For these people, the ecstasy of total sharing has been lost completely to the economy of love. It is the score and only the score that counts. In order to make the commodities more valuable, the economy of love has created sexual specialization. Of course, the cultural emphasis on masculinity or femininity over our natural androgyny is the foremost aspect of this. But the labels of sexual preference, when made permanent self-definitions, are also a part of this. By defining ourselves as gay or straight or bisexual, as child lover or fetishist or any other limited form, rather than letting our desires flow freely, we are making a specialized product of ourselves and so reinforcing the scarcity of love.
When love becomes a commodity it ceases to be real love, for Eros cannot be chained. Love must flow freely and easily without price and without expectations. When love is economized, it ceases to exist, because the lovers cease to exist. Since we must become desirable products, we repress our real selves in order to take on the roles which our culture teaches us will make us desirable. So it is mask kissing mask, image caressing image–but no real lovers to be found anywhere.
If we are to experience the infinite energy of sexual love, the wild divinity of our bodies in ecstasy, then we must free ourselves of the economy of love. We have to throw off every aspect of this lifeless shell that our culture passes off as love. For nowhere in its realms can the wild joys of boundless pleasure be experienced.
But to break free of the economy of love, love must cease to be a scarcity for us. While the wild cosmos abounds with lovers, commodity culture has stolen this from us. So we are left with one way to free ourselves of love’s scarcity. We need to learn to love ourselves, to find ourselves such a source of pleasure that we fall in love with ourselves. After all, is not my body the source of the pleasure I feel in love? Are not my flesh, my nerves, my tingling skin the vast galaxies in which this boundless energy flows? When we learn to be in love with ourselves, to find ourselves a source of endless erotic pleasure, love can never be scarce for us, for we will always have ourselves as a lover.
And when we love ourselves, the boundless joy of Eros will flow through us spilling freely forth. We will not grasp for love because of need, but we will freely share our vast erotic energy with every being who opens to it. Our lovers will be men and women, children, trees and flowers, non-human animals, mountains, rivers, oceans, stars and galaxies. Our lovers will be everywhere, for we ourselves are love.
As mighty gods of love, we then can roam the earth as outlaw heroes, for having escaped the economy of love, we have the strength to oppose all economy. And we will not tolerate this culture where our lovers are abused, enslaved and threatened, murdered and imprisoned. With all the mighty energy of love, we will break every chain and storm the walls until they fall and every one we love is free. And so will end the long, nightmarish rule of economy, the death-dance of civilization. from “Anarchy: A Journal Of Desire Armed” Double Issue #20/21 August-October 1989
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