The flight to community

I am moved to share this article over on Guernica in which a journalist – Katherine Rowland – pays a sympathetic visit to the ZEGG “free love” community near Berlin in Germany.

The writing is perceptive and beautiful; it is a gorgeous portrait, and as Johanna in the comments implies, does not only illuminate the contemporary struggle between monogamy and polyamorous community but the whole social history of the sixties free love movement.

The problem, it seems to me, as I suggested in my earlier blog post on polyamory, is that what we have here is a utopian community for dystopian individuals. By that I mean simply that there are many obstacles to leading what may be a more natural existence, and only those whose biological nature is the most exhausted by struggling with social norms (like me) are moved to try. Groupthink in such a context is almost inevitable. Such communities are courageous experiments which one may envy, but on the whole they are not very self-reflective or self-aware. A bit like launching off across the ocean with only a hollowed-out canoe. It’s not going to work unless set in a very careful therapeutic context, and at present our lamentable state of almost-inexistent knowledge as to what it is we truly desire as human beings, coupled with the neurotic state of how these drives are expressed in contemporary society, affords few points of safe anchorage. Which may, though, not matter if we just view it as one resource in a personal journey of self-discovery.

For my part I do not believe that this kind of community is a solution to most people’s socioerotic ills. It may provide a framework for important experiences to occur, but it does not provide a complete answer to the needs of the heart. This is because of the ways in which it necessarily differs from ancestral communities and because, as a species, we are also on a journey and cannot simply return to the conditions of the past; we must adapt, and we are very (but perhaps too) adaptable.

The needs of the human heart are most practically met, for most people, in structures which build upon social monogamy. This is for reasons which have nothing to do with our biological nature, but only with the consequences of our fall from grace. Already a relationship with a single person is hard; there is every risk that adding more people in makes it worse and not better. Worse, because it makes it easier to dodge the inevitable confrontations with self which come up in a relationship, to slip into a superficial, self-indulgent erotic reverie.

We nevertheless have little choice than to invent new models, because as far as human sexuality is concerned, the cat is not only out of the bag, but equipped with a dazzling array of techno cat-toys with which it can catch all the mice it could ever dream of – and more. The Aquarian couple is different from an “open relationship”, swinging or “consensual non-monogamy” in that it is about love and self-discovery, not just getting sexual “needs” met (there is no such thing as merely “sexual” needs anyway – impulse perhaps, but not needs). But it is also different from polyamory in that it does function based on something close to a traditional family unit. Unwavering commitment to truth, freedom and self-discovery are as important as the commitment to the spiritual and financial needs of that unit. Only such a marriage of yin and yang can, I believe, take society on the next step of its painful journey to more joy, love and inclusiveness.

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One Response to The flight to community

  1. Arianne says:

    Thank you for your wonderful reflections.. a joy to read! Greetings, Arianne

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