Monday, December 05, 2022

Barbara Rosenwein, Pioneer in the Study of Emotions: “Technology Will Intensify Fantasies of Love”

Barbara Rosenwein, Pioneer in the Study of Emotions: "Technology Will Intensify Fantasies of Love"

Barbara Rosenwein (Chicago, 77 years old) sits in an armchair in a spacious room of the Madrid student residence, waiting to meet the Spanish intellectuals who shaped the most important avant-garde in their country, like Lorca, Buñuel or Dalí Gave. Rosenwein, a professor of medieval studies, is another pioneer: in his case, in the study of sentiment in history. She began her research with a treatise on the emotional communities of the Middle Ages, which she wrote in 2006, and this fall she published a new essay, in which she explores how love has shaped Western culture from antiquity to the present day. Used to be.

title love. a story in five fantasies and translated into Spanish by Alianza Editorial, the relationship between Ulysses and Penelope serves as the book’s guiding thread, in which Rosenwein argues that humans define and underpin the concept of love through fiction, which she calls “fantasy”. says. The author classifies them into five, illustrated by literary classics, true stories, films and songs: love as a union between like-minded people, as experienced by the French authors Montaigne and La Boite; love as a way of transcendence, which Abbot Bernardo de Claraval practiced to draw closer to God through personal asceticism; love as a contract that implied certain obligations, such as during ancient Rome for men to support the family and for women to raise children at home; love in the form of obsessive longing, which young Werther felt for Charlotte and could not bear any longer; and love as an insatiable desire, which personifies the myth of Don Juan.

ask. This book sets out not to explain what love is, but what it was. Why?

answer. This is the crux of the matter. Who am I to say what things are? I don’t know what love is. Besides, I am a creature of the past. But I think psychologists don’t take into account the long history of the emotions we are immersed in. So what do they say that parents and environment teach us about emotions. And it is true that when a child is born it does not come saying: “Mom, I love you”, but it cries. Mom swings him, hugs him, sings to him and says: “Mom loves you.” As long as the inner and outer feelings the child is receiving begin to be somewhat consistent with that word. Then they go to school, make friends—who don’t necessarily have the same life experience as them—and learn from them. In adolescence, they kiss and hold hands. And they also absorb the messages of love that they see on television, that they hear in popular songs, and that they read… But our family, the friends who influence us, and the stories from the television past, from whom they derive the ideas, norms and values ​​of the past. Past. I think historians can add this when talking about what love was like in our civilization.

P. What does this tell us about how we have loved in the past?

R. It allows us to judge ourselves and our feelings against the many fantasies about love that exist in its various forms. And think about how love made us and what we want from it. And to shake up our stereotypes about what we’ve always considered true love, to realize that there are many kinds.

P. The book is divided into five chapters and each chapter explores a different “fantasy” of how love has been understood since antiquity. Why do we need those fantasies?

R. All cultures need narratives in which to embed feelings that are vastly different, chaotic and inexplicable. In the book I present some of the longest and most enduring histories of Western Civilization. I have grandchildren who play with dolls and use them to make up stories for them about school, teachers, everyday things. It is a way of controlling and understanding emotions that they could not handle otherwise. Adults continue to do this through our dreams and art.

P. In the book, he traces the evolution of the five great fantasies that have driven love throughout history: union between like-minded people, the pursuit of excellence, selfless devotion, obsessive longing, and insatiable desire. Is there anyone else you would like to include?

R. I found something else, like falling in love with someone who would die. in Stendhal’s novel red and blackMathilde de la Mole, one of the women with whom the protagonist Julien meets, wishes for his love to suffer the same fate as Queen Margaret of Navarre, whose lover was beheaded. This fantasy is very strange, but it did not last long.

P. Do you think all those fantasies have now been lumped into the category of “romantic love”?

R. Not necessarily. Some of these fantasies, such as the fantasy of obligation or superiority in love, can be applied to the love of parents for their children today. Philosopher Simon May says that the new way to pass on love is through children, whom we have previously educated to fear God. Today we teach them to be happy with themselves and we do not force them to study medicine or law. May argues that we now love our children unconditionally, just as we loved God. Although I think romantic love is the first thing we think of when we hear the word, it’s not the only way to love.

Barbara Rosenwein, in a moment from the interview with EL Pace.Andrea Comas

P. Do you think there will be new fantasies about love in the future or some of them will disappear?

R. I hope those fantasies live on and are expanded in new ways. I also think that because of globalization, new imaginations from other cultures will be superimposed on a set of new globalized imaginations. So far, what I see is that the western approach dominates elsewhere, but this may be changing and is probably already changing.

P. In the book, she mentions that women have played a secondary role in defining and telling these fantasies. Do you think this is changing?

R. Yes, although I’ve tried to suggest that women were already very influential in the love I talk about, they haven’t been mentioned or we’ve overlooked them. I was particularly struck by the fact that Plato in Feast introduces the notion of a “ladder of love” through the character of Diotima, a woman. I believe they have been instrumental in the expansion of the fantasy of love in the West and we are now forced to acknowledge it.

P. He states in the book that the idea that love has no obligations is a myth. Why?

R. Until recently, it was accepted that obligations come with love. And in fact, according to the author of Pseudo Pablo, love itself was an obligation. Epistle to the Ephesians, He wrote: “Husbands, love your wives.” But in the 1960s, with a song by the Beatles, the idea became popular that the only thing needed in love is love. all you need is love, And maybe I’m being a little self-righteous, but I think that’s insane. How can you build a long term relationship where you never have to ask your partner for anything because they will do everything spontaneously because they love you? Those who say that have historical amnesia.

P. How will technology affect fantasies of love?

R. I think it will be faster and will speed things up. With dating apps, many people think they are meeting the perfect people. “He texts me and kisses me every two minutes. It’s perfect,” they think. And that’s the fantasy that the person is obsessively in love, love at first sight. And it creates very intense dreams and expectations. I think it’s helpful to acknowledge Maybe this is a story and we don’t need to be locked into it.

P. And the apps that are used to have casual sex without commitment?

R. In this case, it is a different fantasy, it is nothing more than having sex. I wonder if humans are really capable of completely differentiating physical experience from love. Maybe that’s why, I’m not going to tell anyone how I feel.

P. has a tendency to opposite spectrum conscious, loving yourself and being self-sufficient. How does this affect love?

R. We live a kind of moment of acceptance of ourselves. I’m talking in the book of a woman who read her vows to marry herself, the video is on YouTube. I don’t know whether that woman has discarded all romantic or sexual connotations. But what they have asked for in this marriage is to give themselves dignity. If that helps her, it’s probably a good idea for her. I do not condemn it at all.

P. Why did you decide to study the history of emotion?

R. I’ve heard historians say things about the people of the Middle Ages that shock me, like their emotions were out of control, that they were impulsive, that they didn’t experience sensitive feelings like love. It felt very wrong to me… and I thought: “This is not true. And someone has to prove that it is not so.

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