SPIRITUAL SOAP: We Are a Loveless Culture
It's not that we can't love, but that we don't.
Before we were The Black Sheep, we were a newsletter named Spiritual Soap. Please enjoy this article from our history!
I was going to write something else today, but it feels weird to ignore holidays and whatever’s most prominent in the collective’s mind.
Valentine’s Day has us thinking about love, but do you feel it? Does our culture’s acknowledgment of this love-centered holiday really feel like anything? We’re observing the intellectual concept of love—the version of love no one actually wants, but everyone is more comfortable with.
Our culture is afraid of love. Maybe I’m afraid of love too. We can talk about it, and I can write about it, but love isn’t a thing to be talked about and written about, it’s a thing to feel and do. Oh, to feel and do—the intellectual Achilles’ heel.
Sometimes it’s easier to analyze the world and chase the details that make love the thing we all seek in some unconscious, even backward way. It’s easier to touch love with the plastic gloves of intellect or not to touch it at all.
Our culture fears love because we’ve become intellectual idiots, consumed with information, drunk on facts, screaming about The Science, and pestering each other with infographics about our ignorance. We’ve lost one of the most fundamental human experiences in our desperation to distance ourselves from the icky, mortal, primal ingredients of our fundamental human nature. We’ve lost the ability to simply be with people despite how our minds drive us apart. And there lives that paradoxical desire to be connected and to avoid the pain of disconnection; I share my mind to find communion, and yet sharing my mind is what reveals how uncommon my mind is.
In this Age of Information, the sticky raw reality of human nature that reveals our desire for simple things like love is pushed out of sight.
Love in our culture is a concept, a symbol of something that once was, like a stone-cold statue that represents a good thing long dead.
Love is a secret now, a personal ritual we exchange only in our closest relationships, where the soft, breakable emotions that love transfers through feel safe to reveal. You might see my edited Insta-love, my entertaining TikTok-love, my New Yorker intellectual love, but you’ll never see my subtle, selfless love or my open, inviting love. Real love is too real for a post-post-modern culture where genuine expression is too simple and trite for our taste anymore.
Our culture is most comfortable with what it knows, and what it knows is conflict, tragedy, and cynicism. Spin me a story about how love is actually a patriarchal invention meant to domesticate women; or love is a corporate concoction that makes us chase fantasies in the form of commodities; or even still, love is a long-lost sacred duty between the traditional roles of good husbands and wives.
Can’t love just be a fucking feeling for once?
Love is a symbol, a slogan, a cynical invention, love doesn’t exist and never has. Love is everything you want and nothing at all. This is the recipe that kills all simple pleasures of human life.
I want to see more love with no name, the kind that just exists with no headline or philosophy to claim and explain it. Every opportunity we take to sow disconnection, to stay guarded, to give up on a lighter storyline because the fear of unmet expectations burned us enough, is proof that we can love, we just choose not to.