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How fiction ruined love

Romanticism and capitalism

Romanticism and capitalism are the two dominant ideas of our time, guiding the way we think and feel about the two things that usually matter most in our lives: relationships and work

The impressive philosophy of romantic love in art ( with focus on intimacy and openness and spending carefree days together) matches poorly with the requirements of working routines that fill our heads with complex demands, keep us away from home for long stretches and render us insecure about our positions in a competitive environment.

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How fiction ruined love

How fiction ruined love

https://www.ft.com/content/905bf850-0588-11e6-a70d-4e39ac32c284

ft.com

7

Key Ideas

Our ideas of love

The differences in how people have loved throughout history suggest that our style of loving is to a significant extent determined by what the prevailing environment dictates.

It is through novels, poems, songs and, latterly, films that we have acquired our misleading ideas about love.

What is lacking in art

... are crucial elements of wisdom, realism and maturity. Our love stories excite us to expect things of love that are neither very possible nor very practical.

We learn to judge ourselves by the hopes and expectations fostered by a misleading artistic medium.

How love stories affect us

Emma Bovary in Madame Bovary (1856) spent her childhood immersed in Romantic fiction. As a result, she’s expecting that her husband will be someone who understands her soul perfectly.

When she does get married to the kind, thoughtful but human. But she is quickly bored by the routines of married life. She is convinced that her life has gone profoundly wrong for one central reason: because it’s so different from what the novels she knows told her it would be.

What is missing from romantic fiction

Our art is full of omissions. For example, in so many romantic stories, the whole business of work is rarely viewed as relevant to the enduring of a relationship. Yet, in reality, part of the rationale of any relationship is to enable two people to function as a stable joint economic unit for the education of the next generation. 

Romanticism and capitalism

Romanticism and capitalism are the two dominant ideas of our time, guiding the way we think and feel about the two things that usually matter most in our lives: relationships and work

The impressive philosophy of romantic love in art ( with focus on intimacy and openness and spending carefree days together) matches poorly with the requirements of working routines that fill our heads with complex demands, keep us away from home for long stretches and render us insecure about our positions in a competitive environment.

Domestic issues

Until our art changes radically, we won’t go into relationships ready to perceive domestic issues as important potential flashpoints to look out for and pay attention to. 

Skillful depictions of love

Our culture is full of skillful depictions of love. But at the same time, many of these stories are very unhelpful. We learn to judge ourselves by the hopes and expectations cultivated by a confusing artistic medium. 

We need to tell ourselves more accurate stories about the progress of relationships, stories that normalise troubles and show us an intelligent, helpful path through them.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

The cultural backdrop

For most of recorded history, people got married for logical pragmatic sorts of reasons.

Since around 1750, we have been living in an era in the history of love that we can call Romanticism w...

The Romantic template
  • Romanticism tells us that a long-term marriage can have all the excitement of a love affair.
  • Romanticism proposed that true love must mean an end to all loneliness.
  • Romanticism believed that choosing a partner should be about letting oneself be guided by feelings, rather than practical considerations.
  • Romanticism believes that true love is synonymous with accepting everything about someone.
The Romantic script is delusional

It's normative points include:

  • we should meet a person of extraordinary inner and outer beauty and immediately feel a special attraction to them, and they to us
  • we should understand one another intuitively
  • we don’t need an education in love
  • we should have no secrets and spend constant time together
  • we should raise a family without any loss of intensity
  • our lover must be our soulmate, best friend, co-parent, co-chauffeur, accountant, household manager and spiritual guide

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Doing what you love is complicated

As kids, playing was described as fun while work was pretty much defined as not-fun. In school, it was implied that work was monotonous because it was in preparation for grownup work. Grownups a...

Bounds

Keep in mind this question: How much are you supposed to enjoy what you do? If you underestimate your answer, you'll tend to stop searching too early.

Liking your work does not mean doing what makes you happiest in this second, but what will make you most satisfied over a more extended period, like a week or a month. Your work should be your favorite thing to do. It should be something you admire.

What you should not do
  • Don't worry about the opinion of anyone beyond your friends.
  • Don't worry about prestige. Prestige is the opinion of the rest of the world. If you do anything well enough, you'll make it prestigious.
  • Don't be led astray by money, especially when money is combined with prestige.

A test of whether you love what you do is if you would do it even if you weren't paid for it. (Even if you had to work at another job to make a living.)

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Romanticism

Romanticism emerged as an ideology in Europe in the mid-18th century in the minds of poets, artists and philosophers, and it has now conquered the world. 

It has permeated our culture wi...

Romanticism is deeply hopeful

It tells us that marriage can have all the excitement of a love affair and the feelings of love should prevail over a life-time. 

Romanticism proposes 

... that true love end loneliness. It promised that the right partner would understand us fully without words.

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A toxic relationship

Is any relationship between people who don’t support each other, where there’s conflict and one seeks to undermine the other, where there is competition and there is disrespect.

...
What makes a relationship toxic

People who consistently undermine or cause harm to a partner (whether intentionally or not) often have a reason for their behavior, even if it’s subconscious. 

Maybe they were in a toxic relationship, either romantically or as a child. Maybe they didn’t have the most supportive, loving upbringing. They could have been bullied in school. They could be suffering from an undiagnosed mental health disorder.

Warning signs

The most serious warning signs include any form of violence, abuse or harassment, which should be dealt with immediately. But in many cases, the indicators of a toxic relationship are much more subtle: Persistent unhappiness, negative shifts in your mental health, personality or self-esteem, feeling like you can’t talk with or voice concerns to your significant other.

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Alain de Botton

"One of the first things couples should do is rather than saying how perfect they are, they should say 'I'm crazy ..."

Alain de Botton
Alain de Botton
Alain de Botton

"There is a cult of romanticism. It started in the 18th century, and it basically told people that everybody has a soul mate, everybody has somebody who will cure them of all loneliness.

We make the equation that, if you love me, you are supposed to understand me even if I don't explain what's wrong. With any good relationship, unfortunately, we often have to spell out what we need. People cannot be mind readers."

Alain de Botton
Alain de Botton

"There are lovely moments in early childhood when your parent can guess pretty well what you need. In the early days of love sometimes, you will report an ecstatic feeling you have met someone who seems to understand you without you needing to speak.

So many problems of relationships (are) where we have things to say we haven't said, and we blame people and get bitter that people haven't understood what we never explained to them."

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The Benefits Of Sex

Schedule it if necessary. Having sex regularly helps with keeping a relationship from going stale and drives up the testosterone system, which makes you want to have more sex.

You also...

Avoiding Routine

Trying new things will keep the relationship from coasting into routine. this drives up the dopamine system and can sustain feelings of romantic love.

This doesn’t have to be a major change, like taking a trip around the world or deciding to have a baby. Little things, like trying a new recipe together, or going for a walk around the block instead of staying in for a movie, can provide the novelty your brain craves.

The Benefits Of Touch

Touch is proven to foster connection, it drives up the oxytocin system and can give you feelings of deep attachment to your partner. 

When you're in love

When humans fall in love, their bodies are actively producing feel-good hormones and preventing the release of negative hormones.

When this process suddenly stops, the "w...

Going through a breakup

Heartbreak is a form of grief and loss that can cause serious issues with insomnia, anxiety and depression.

The pain we feel during heartbreak is similar to the physical pain we feel due to a severe burn on a broken arm.

Healing from a breakup

  • Visual reminders are likely to create dopamine surges in your brain that relate to feelings of craving and withdrawal.
  • Replace those surges of dopamine by taking a fitness class. Exercise can also release endorphins that trigger positive feelings.
  • Find a "new normal".
  • Accept the reason for the breakup.

"When we feed and support our own happiness, we are nourishing our ability to love. That’s why to love means to learn the art of nourishing our happiness". -  Thich Nhat Hanh

"Understanding someone’s suffering is the best gift you can give another person. Understanding is love’s other name. If you don’t understand, you can’t love."  - Thich Nhat ...

"Understanding someone’s suffering is the best gift you can give another person. Understanding is love’s other name. If you don’t understand, you can’t love."  - Thich Nhat Hanh

" The most precious inheritance that parents can give their children is their own happiness. Our parents may be able to leave us money, houses, and land, but they may not be happy people...

" The most precious inheritance that parents can give their children is their own happiness. Our parents may be able to leave us money, houses, and land, but they may not be happy people. If we have happy parents, we have received the richest inheritance of all."  - Thich Nhat Hanh

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The forms of love

Love is not just found in romantic love directed at one person.

Love includes the depth of close friendships, the sense of belonging in a community, the intensity of an artistic practice...

It takes a village to feel loved

In history, marriage was a pragmatic institution. A sense of identity was more embedded in community, and not solely in marriage.

The shift to individualism and choice has meant that we feel the need to find our identity in an all-encompassing romantic partnership. We are asking from one person what once an entire village used to provide.

Recognising that one person can't be your everything can help you find a broader definition of love.

The love of friendship

Sharing your experiences with others is an essential ingredient to feeling connected.

This conncection doesn't have to come in the form of a partner or having friends around you all the time. Rather, it is the quality of your close relationships that has an impact on your well being.

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We Don't Understand Ourselves

We don't realize that we are a bundle of contradictions and are trying to look for someone who can understand us, while we haven't been able to understand ourselves yet.

We think we are a gre...

We Don't Understand Others

Like us, other people are stuck in the same low-level self-realization: we try to gauge the other person by their looks or family or social status, which is a futile exercise in most cases.

We Don't Know Happiness

We aren't accustomed to being happy or have a misguided idea of what happiness is.

We find the ones who would be right for us, to be wrong for us, because of our lack of experience in what good is, and the fact that we don't associate love with being happy and fulfilled.

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