Thursday, March 08, 2007

More on romance and commodification...

Okay. So I suspect we've all ascertained by now that I am a rather unusual person. My perspectives are decidedly off-beat on a variety of topics but in thinking about some of this last night, I came to the conclusion that much of it surrounds the issue of craving.

I can look back over the fairly significant number of years I've lived and have a vague recollection of craving in my very young years. You know.. as a pre-teen. Somewhere between my tween years and young adulthood, the craving stopped. Note that I differentiate between simple wanting, normal desire and craving. We all "want" or we wouldn't even get out of our chairs.

I'm not a dreamer, not one who puts much stock in dreams. Ambition doesn't seem to be a part of my personality construct. For the most part, I'm pretty content with what comes along and in a material sense, my needs are minimal. My life is simple and satisfying. Aside from missing Thailand, I can't complain about much. The things I choose to change in my life are ordinary engineering problems that have to be solved. How to get from Point A to Point B. I look for the most logical and reasonable solution to any perceived lack I experience in my life. Meanwhile, I evaluate the potential solution within the context of my ethical and moral system and choose an action.

Many of the comments in response to my post yesterday dealt with the issue of "sparks" and feeling "love" at first sight. I am not questioning the authenticity of anyone else's experience but I truly don't understand it. I feel kinship with certain people I meet but I can't wrap my mind around the kind of craving or attachment that most people consider to be essential to a romantic relationship. I love my friends but that comes from getting to know them, building a history and building trust.

What most describe as "romance" feels clingy and sounds a lot like craving. Frankly, I find it such an odd concept that it's difficult to even write about it. It's like trying to describe something I've never seen.

From an observer's point of view, what I see is a commodification of everything in that arena, from meeting to sex. People gather in certain places, use Internet dating sites and an assortment of other outlets with their laundry list of expectations (planned resentments) in hand, looking each other over as though it was a car auction. Women and men both primp, strut and present an image of themselves that is often unrealistic. Women are expected to meet an unrealistic standard of beauty. We are expected to paint our bodies with products designed to make us look different than we actually are. (I hate make-up. Sorry, ladies..) Men are expected to perform in equally demeaning ways. There is a marketing of the Self that seems odd, something that sucks the humanity out of us. It sets us up for frustration and failure because it is not authentic.

That is what I find demoralizing, demeaning and repulsive.

I appreciate KC's observations very much because I resonate to biological determinism. When everything is crunched down, I believe we'll find that brain chemicals and brain function drives most of our behaviors.

My inability to relate to that particular aspect of life could be something as simple as brain deficiency. It could be that my brain doesn't produce those chemicals. Although I must honestly confess that I believe what surrounds me in many ways has blunted it.




Lucia said...

The commodification of romance and dating is really an interesting topic in and of itself. I'm not sure that everyone needs the same life - a partner, 2.5 kids, a picket fence. We have somehow boiled things down to only one "right" way to do things, and that disturbs me.

Anonymous said...

Who cares that "craving" or "sparks" may come from some cells of the brain? Why to take refuge behind "biological determinism?" Is poetry the result of it as well? And the desire to run away towards Thailand? Why to mind the cause, when the effects only matter?
Is it the only way to meet people in the USA, the sordid commodification" you describe "from an observer point of view?"

meno said...

I read yesterday's post and then got distracted before i could comment. I will quote back to you something you wrote a while ago and i have used ever since. Love is a behavior, not an emotion.

That is such a true statement. Expecting something else is what leads us into trouble and disappointment.

thailandchani said...

G, interesting questions. :) I don't know about the poetry part. That probably comes from an internal need to express oneself.

Running to Thailand: There are prbably multiple reasons for that, some emotional (deep resonance), some practical (it's a lot cheaper) and a compatibility that exists for me there. Environment matters, too. Although I am not convinced that mate-finding is that much different in Thailand. There's probably a major difference between, say, Bangkok or Kalasin.

To answer your last question, to tbe best of my knowledge, that is how people are meeting potential mates these days. Due to other life conditions, again, it is strictly a goal-oriented objective and the quickest way to achieve the goal is the method people use.



thailandchani said...

Lucia, it bothers me a lot, too. It just takes the "soul" out of everything. The humanity is stripped away in favor of this goal-directed business style of nearly every damn thing these days!


Meno, thanks for remembering that. :) I also believe it is a true statement (obviously) LOL ~ That is why I know that my approach to mating is very different than the cultural standard. If someone has a certain level of decency, trustworthiness and character, I have no problem with the idea of choosing to love that person.

In fact, I've chosen to love many people that way. It's just not "romantic" love.



Anonymous said...

Ah, no no no, don't evade, please. If you assume that love, romance, craving are chemical products, then poetry and the its "internal need to express oneself", or "emotional deep resonance" for running to Thailand are just the same process!

Science, studies, statistics: here is the future of humanity...

thailandchani said...

G, You are a challenge, and that's a good thing! :)

At no point have I indicated that we are one-dimensional beings. On the other hand, there are certain behaviors that are universal and can not be attributed to acculturation. Those behaviors are likely based on some sort of chemical reaction.

However, I don't think the soul itself is a result of chemicals.

Emotions very likely are chemical.. but how we acculturate them is an entirely different thing. Why is anger considered quite okay in this culture ~ and not in Thailand? It's the same emotion, yes?

So.. there is chemical reaction and there is the way we as societies put boundaries and attach customs to those emotions.

Make more sense?


I enjoy dialoguing with you.



Anonymous said...

Your last parpagraph makes sense yes, that we are supposed to be able to dominate our emotions (with some chemicals from the brain, maybe?).

But your two previous paragraphs,no. Because you say "I don't think the soul itself is a result of chemicals." and, on another hand, " Emotions very likely are chemical." So, how do you make the difference between "emotions" and "soul" ????

Anonymous said...

I've often thought that romance and mental illness are just a hair's breadth apart. The same impulse that inspired Shakespeare to write some of his most moving sonnets also inspired an astronaut to put on diapers and drive to Florida.

Pam said...

I am a dreamer but have learned to keep one foot planted on solid ground. We all see love, romance, sex and partnership from different viewpoints and that makes it interesting. But I agree totally that making the whole process a commodity cheapens and devalues the meaning.

amusing said...

Hey, I think y'all are generalizing. Those women who run to the mall to feel better? They might be the same ones who "commodify" relationships (see "The Desperate Housewives of Orange County" on Bravo). But I've used internet dating and I met some amazingly interesting people and we were only commodities in that there's "packaging" so when you get 67 emails in a night you decide who sounds interesting and who doesn't. But when we emailed or talked on the phone or met in person eventually, it wasn't a sales call. Because I chose not to define it that way. I'm not a shopper -- of things or people -- so I tend not to think in a commodity mentality.

And, some people find the thing they are looking for -- and some don't. The comments that say "put your energy out there and it will come to you" -- that's just not true. So many people I know think and hope and wish and wait. Like my sister. And I'm not offering her platitudes. I suspect she will not meet anyone and that dream she has is going to go unrealized. Perhaps in part because she has "the dream" and that limits her. That's where the commodification comes in. Having a list and rejecting anything that doesn't have enough checkmarks in the boxes. Though in the last few years, she hasn't even had the chance to pull the list out.

Sometimes it just doesn't happen.

thailandchani said...

G, I suspect we harness our emotions the way we are taught to harness them. Acculturation, socialization and so on.

That doesn't mean everyone learns however which is why we have people emoting all over the place, often without any direction or purpose.

Emotions are part of our brain chemistry, I believe, and as such are very much part of our human dimension. They are a barometer and let us know what is going on internally.

The soul is what connects us to All That Is, in whatever manner someone interprets that. I think of it as the Group Consciousness.



thailandchani said...

Amusing, I think you are right on many counts. Dreams don't always come true. That is probably why I am not one who holds much stock in prayer. Meditation is good because it clears our mind to help us determine what is really important and what isn't, connects us to the group consciousness a bit more.

Telling someone to just put it out to the universe is really a way of saying, "this isn't something I can answer" but trying to be comforting. Beyond that, in a physical universe than operates on a fairly predictable dialectic, the evidence to support "putting something out to the universe" doesn't really exist. However, taking action based on a thought very well could work.

Often the trouble is just knowing what action to take.



Girlplustwo said...

I am very much enjoying your posts on these topics and the subsequent comments.

I am echoing here...but I think if we can allow ourselves to experience things the way that make sense to us, rather than the carbon copy ways of expectation then we allow a whole new opportunity to arise - sparks, no sparks, whatever. whatever works for us.

The Atavist said...

Wow, Chani... you are writing these really mind-bending posts at the worst possible time for me, a time when I have been trying to squeeze some extra moments out of each day by blogging and commenting less, if only until I get caught up a bit.

I both agree and disagree with your positions. How's that for some serious fence straddling? Actually, I would love to respond to these things in detail. Would you allow me to do so on my own blog, and reference you as the one who got me thinking about these topics? I'll try to do so in the next few days sometime. The whole male/female dichotomy is something that has had me puzzled for a long, long time.

Girlplustwo said...

digging Atavist's comment. i look forward to more of this.

thailandchani said...

Jen, I will look forward to hearing what he has to say as well. Everyone seems to have something interesting to say.

I'm working on a post for tomorrow on "The Secret". That should bring out some opinions. :)


LittlePea said...

What? Deficiency? No! That's so normal. You have your own likes and dislikes just as the rest of us. I love what you said about expectations being planned resentments. That's so spot on. Romance is so contrived and lasts about five minutes. Most of the time it exists only on TV. Dating is such a strange ritual and full of silly rules. If we can still be attracted and care about and be good to someone after we/he/she take our masks off and get to the truth of ourselves...that's the key. And actually I do believe that love, lust, and like are chemical-driven too.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Dreams are fine because they tell us what we want. They rarely come true, however, without action.

I am deeply grateful that I don't have to go through the mating dance I see around me, the absolute low-point of which might be "speed dating. Men and women line up facing each other like a Virginia Reel, and the men's line moves so that each man and each woman get to "converse" for 5 minutes. Then the line moves on, and the next lucky shooter appears. This is scary as hell.
Those people might as well be soap powder or slabs of beef at auction.

Man-catching magazines like Cosmo strike me as both offensive and hilarious. Between the makeup and the clothing and the implants and all the other additives, is there anything even slightly real in there anymore? I think not. And they make the rest of us look bad besides.