Thursday, February 20, 2014

Red Love

Aptly timed for the Valentine’s season, One Love Part Two was a discussion that tackled love from the perspective of leftist philosophy. The discussion had three parts: the first one was hinged on arguments detailing the bourgeois facet of love and how this facet of love is the dominant view in society, as evidenced by the art that such a society produces or reveres; the second part tried to look at the notion red (or communist) love through theories on queer (homosexual) love; and, the third was a rhetorical summary of some of the views presented in the two previous parts. The talk was held at the College of Science Auditorium last week, February 13th.

The arguments of the first presenter, Portia Placino, detailed how society’s views on love were shown through the works of arts that have been made by several artists over the years like Manet, Rembrandt, Gainsborough, Amorsolo and Manansala. Placino presented several slides in which certain views on love were offered by the artists. The general view offered by Placino detailed the trajectory of love from courtship to engagement to marriage to family and these were shown through various artworks. She maintained that, through the artworks presented, the social view on love is often anti-women and capitalist. 

Take for example the sculpture of Cupid and Psyche’s love story where Psyche, the woman, had to literally go through heaven and hell just to get the love of Cupid, who had to do nothing. Another example is Thomas Gainsborough’s Mr. and Mrs. Andrews in which a portrait of a couple is shown and they are assumed to be married. The real conceit of the painting however is the fact that Mr. and Mrs. Andrews now have a larger tract of land as a result of their union. Placino added that marriage as a way of augmenting one’s property is a common practice and, if such is the case, Placino asked if marriage (and love) is a bourgeois concept.
The second talk of the seminar was conducted by Dr. Roselle Pineda and focused on red love as queer love. What the talk aimed to do was to provide an alternative to the prevalent heteronormative and heterosexual notions (both capitalist notions) of love in society by presenting a leftist view on love that relied on homosexual ideas.

Dr. Pineda cited marriage as an example of how heteronormative love is a capitalist idea. Instead of the union being a manifestation of love, the married couple becomes a “consumer unit,” with the idea of each of them possessing their respective partner. However, in a truly communist society, Dr. Pineda, taking from the ideas of Alexandra Kollontai, asserted that love is to be benefitted by the collective and not just two private individuals.

Therefore, the communist idea of love is grounded on open and not exclusive relationships where marriage has no place. Much like homosexual love in which most relationships are averse to marriage and are, more often than not, open, communist love should be anchored on the same principles as queer love.
For the last part of the talk, Professor Gerry Lanuza described what love is for him, as supported by quotes from Mao Ze Dong, Che Guevarra and excerpts from Alan Badiou’s work. He likened love to fighting for the good of the collective, as they are violent, extremist, and partisan.

Normally, I am skeptical in attending forums centered on leftist ideas and principles because I feel that the people behind communist propaganda can get too aggressive in their delivery and therefore come across as arrogant. Sometimes, people behind these movements can be so bent with their beliefs at the expense of looking at all sides equally. But this particular talk somehow changes that impression for me. Its general mood was lively and academic. The points presented were based on solid facts, as in the theories of Alexandra Kollontai and the widely accepted interpretations of the different works of art. It was also not too preachy; it merely inquired the possibility and asked the audience to consider. “Is it really love that we want or is it simply to comply with the social norm?” “Is self-expression really about defying boundaries or is it actually more of a subscription to social dictation?” Now that is something to think about.

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