Face Making

Artist Gwenn Seemel’s bilingual blog about art, portraiture, free culture, and feminism.

Celebrate love

2013 . 02 . 11 - Comments / Commentaires (3)

- -—[version française]—- -

I didn’t have a boyfriend until I was nineteen. The date-less quality of my youth was not a result of protective parents. Rather, I suspect it had something to do with my queerness and with the fact that I was a prodigiously awkward teenager.

black swan Valentine

poster from Crime Against Nature

But, though I’d been thrilled to finally find someone to call my own, when that first relationship ended after a few months, I was not anxious to get into another one. What’s more I resented the way that everyone seemed to think that being paired up was so important.

lovebird Valentine

poster from Crime Against Nature

In fact, I remember an especially irritating exchange with one of my professors at university. He was talking about his different brushes, and he singled one out as his best, so I asked him why that one was his favorite. I thought it was a perfectly natural question and one that, in the context of the classroom, deserved a useful answer. But he didn’t think so.

bonobo Valentine

poster from Crime Against Nature

He responded: “have you ever been in love with a boy?” When I said that I hadn’t, he told me that meant I couldn’t possibly understand his feelings for this particular tool. Irked, I replied that, while I’d never been in love, I knew very well how to love, and that, furthermore, his answer was as uninformative as it was pretentious. (Or, no, I didn’t say that last part. I only wish I had.)

grizzly bear Valentine

poster from Crime Against Nature

Our focus on soul-mating and spousing—and on doing these things only between girls and boys—is pathological.

Dayak fruit bat Valentine

poster from Crime Against Nature

I mean to say that it gets in the way of honoring all the other kinds of love we’re so good at. I, for one, see everything right in celebrating Valentine’s Day the way we did when we were six and had to give everyone in the class a sparkly doily heart, a symbol of a better world. The one I’ve made for you even has macaroni elbows on it.

- The moral of the story / La morale de l’histoire
- A little bit in love / Un petit peu amoureuse
- Validation matters.

CATEGORIES: - Crime - Philosophy -

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(3) Comments / Commentaires: Celebrate love

-- Mike Lewinski -- 2014 . 02 . 09 --

Of the professor’s reply, I take it he was referring to the intrinsic value of the brush. There was no answer to “why” because why resolves to an extrinsic value.

I agree completely on the point of pair bonding, especially of the heteronormative variety, as pathology.

But I find some value in that answer given. Why is your beloved your beloved? The answer lies in who they are, not in their utilitarian value as parent or (sex partner).

The answer “because they are who they are” is equally unsatisfying to someone seeking the extrinsic explanation. But I think it goes to the heart of what love is.

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-- Susannah Mars -- 2014 . 02 . 09 --

J’aime lire votre blog. J’aime lire et pratiquer mon français.
Il ya une simplicité poétique dans votre écriture, et je me suis retrouvé le sourire beaucoup.
Il ya une douce qualité et un amour. Il est beau, que vous écriviez sur l’amour et je me sens dans votre écriture.

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-- Gwenn -- 2014 . 02 . 09 --

@Mike: It’s true that the professor’s answer was one way to answer my question, I just don’t think it was a particularly useful one in that setting, nor do I think his making assumptions about my sexuality is appropriate in any context.  Ultimately, if he’d said something like “I love this brush like I love my wife: we’ve been through so much together that it’s difficult to explain exactly why” I don’t think the episode would have marked me like it did!

@Susannah: Merci beaucoup!  I work at my language in a way that feels different and often more difficult than the way I work at my paintings, so your compliment really hits the spot for me.

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