Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

I wrote this a couple of years ago. Reposting today (for obvious reasons).



The dominant hegemony of consumer driven romantic love assures that most of us will never even consider the saint associated with Valentine's Day. Although almost nothing is actually known about him, he was a third century priest who, after trying unsuccessfully to convert Claudius II to Christianity, was imprisoned, beaten to death, and beheaded by the Romans for refusing to renounce his faith in Jesus somewhere on or about February 14, 269 AD. Beheading isn't typically considered very romantic and, aside from the color of spilled martyr's blood, doesn't account for most of the discourse we associate with Valentine's Day today—the hearts, roses, chocolates, diamond bracelets, and candlelit dinners. So where did all this modern bricolage come from?

Some have suggested Valentine sent parchment hearts to fellow imprisoned Christians while others claim the romantic connection revolves around the belief by Europeans of the Middle Ages that February fourteenth was the day birds gathered to mate. The latter is most likely an attempt to connect two disparate events with a coincidence of date while the former is probably pure, unabashed myth and wishful thinking. The real story may, in fact, stem from medieval Christianity's affinity for appropriating holidays from anyone who didn't appear to be suffering enough. In the fifth century, pagans were still partying it up at the Feast of Lupercalia, celebrating the deity Lupercus or, as he's better known, Pan—the horned (and horny) god of fertility. All of this hedonism and merrymaking was too much for Pope Gelasius I, so, in 494 AD, he banned the celebration of Lupercus and, for convenience sake, moved the feast from the fifteenth of February to the fourteenth, renaming it Saint Valentine's Day in honor of the slain martyr. Not ones to be easily put off, revelers stuck with Pan's ideals while transferring them to the largely unknown saint and, well, here we are fifteen hundred years later spending billions of dollars on Hallmark cards, flowers, and jewelry in hopes that, at least once this year, we might just get lucky. It probably isn't exactly what Gelasius had in mind, and, for his part, Saint Valentine would almost certainly be appalled by the epicurean excess practiced in his name.

And what about the heart? That red arched signifier of love and the pinnacle of overdetermined everything that is Valentine's Day doesn't even point to a genuine signified. It is a complete social construct—an orphaned icon. An actual heart, the one beating inside all of us (even the cold, black one kept alive by a pacemaker inside Dick Cheney), is far removed from the imagery of Valentine's Day. What if one substituted the symbolic heart with a depiction of an actual one? How would the meaning change? Of course someone has done this. In our postmodern age of irreverence and irony, it was only a matter of time before the symbol was replaced with a representation of the real. In the case of an image I discovered (above), a simple message, “Happy Valentine's Day,” is printed in a red serif font that sits on a beige background above an equally red representation of a bona fide, out of the chest onto the paper, heart. It isn't quite anatomy class, but it's close. It gives a whole new meaning to the idea of giving someone your heart—conjuring images a la Apocalypto instead of romance and roses.

There is something truly disturbing about the juxtaposition. In an act of resistance and parody, the artist forces us to face up to our ideology. The heart, long-vaunted symbol of emotional love, becomes the fragile muscle that forces blood through our body for the finite time we're alive. It is a heart violently torn from the flesh. It signifies death. In this way, bloody images of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre—where Al Capone's cronies mercilessly gunned down rival gangsters in Chicago in 1929—are closer to the new interpretation than anything offered by DeBeers or See's Candy. It is with this fresh gaze we are forced to follow the thread of violence from the Romans' persecution of Saint Valentine himself to the Christians' persecution of the pagans for celebrating a different, randier, god; from Al Capone's slaughter of Bugs Moran's men to images of horrific atrocities committed in the modern diamond trade. With this wider view, we are able to see how our choices affect others—we are able to undo ourselves from the subject position to view the world more objectively. That diamond necklace may buy a night of nookie with the wife, but it may also contribute to the pain of someone in Sierra Leone.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with spreading romance. However, we should consider considering our loved ones every day, not just on the one day our hyper-consumerized culture tells us we have to. The next time I see the simulacrum heart, I'm going to remember that image of the real one. I'm going to try to make choices that, hopefully, maximize the happiness of my lover while minimizing the misery of my fellow global citizens—and I'm going to try to do it without the advice of some slick Madison Avenue advertising firm. To put it simply, this Valentine's Day I'm going to try not to do what St. Valentine did, and lose my head.

Happy Valentine's Day!

41 comments:

美國 said...

the best as always thanks ........................................

夾克 said...

一沙一世界,一花一天堂,掌中握無限,剎那即永恆........................................

與發 said...

When everything is coming your way, you are in the wrong lane.............................................

童紫勳 said...

人間好話,要如海綿遇水牢牢吸住 ..................................................

志冠少菁伶義 said...

志不立,天下無可成之事。......................................................

嘉容嘉容 said...

thx u very much, i learn a lot

思穎思穎 said...

要保持更新呦,加油!!!期待你的新文章!!! ........................................

wilfredkdefilippo236 said...

xh美色網s38想看一下激激sex貼片網s383情色大網咖熟女自拍sex免費成人影片情境坊歡愉用品 視訊泳裝秀拓網交友免費成人影片,104免費成人情色文學小說視訊主播脫衣秀gogo2sexplus28論壇aa免費看a 免費影片觀賞一夜情人視訊 微風成人區壞朋友論壇一夜情視訊後宮電影院 色情影片後宮電影院 色情影片成人情色文學a漫性愛免費片貼圖片區h圖h卡通免費線上影片情色遊戲彩虹情人視訊交友網免費聊天交友
免費聊天交友淫淫美女視訊交友
淫淫美女視訊交友淫娃免費視訊聊天室拓網交友視訊聊天室
拓網交友視訊聊天室uthome 影音視訊聊天室
uthome 影音視訊聊天室

黎美朝宜書 said...

keep sharing with us, please....I will waiting your up date everyday!! Have a nice and relax day! ..................................................

Fe024lixV_Ferrari1 said...

請繼續發表好文!加油加油加油!.............................................

Writing Womb said...

Oh man, are you not writing anymore? I really enjoyed your blog.

I have read a bunch of your posts and will now stalk you in a friendly blogger way...see, today is random search day for me where i just pick an obscure thing that I like and see if anyone else likes it and if their blog doesn't suck, then I get to follow it...i like this approach, i get to see lots of really wacked off the grid kind of blogs this way. And this is how I got to find your little gem of a blog ;o)
So, today's random search was to see if there were any other people out there who had the movie Synecdoche as their favourite. I wanted to see what kind of bloggers liked it because everyone I know hated that movie or didn't get it yet I was so inspired by it as I am with all of Kauffman's movies. There are only 150 people who have this movie as their favourite either that or only 150 people can spell it, either way...can you believe that?

So, your profile was one of the first to come up and you and I totally like the same kind of movies and books...I know that's a superficial way to start up a blogging friendship but hey, where else are you going to start?
I think you are doing a great job with your site and I am looking forward to reading more soon.
If you like, you can check out my site http://www.thewritingwomb.com if you like it follow, if not, no worries.
Take care, I look forward to stalking you some more soon!

韋于倫成 said...

友誼能增進快樂,減少痛苦..................................................

建霖 said...

朝著既定的目標走,就不會迷失。........................................

品華 said...

若無一番寒徹骨,焉得梅花撲鼻香。 ............................................................

佩GailBohanan1蓉 said...

Joy shared with others are more enjoyed.............................................................

彥安 said...

You are flattering me..............................................................

林奕廷 said...

感謝您費心的分享您的生活!讓我也感同身受!

姿吟姿吟 said...

死亡是悲哀的,但活得不快樂更悲哀。......................................................................

郁雨郁雨 said...

卡爾.桑得柏:「除非先有夢,否則一切皆不成。」共勉!.................................................................                           

政翰政翰 said...

It takes all kinds to make a world.............................................................

佐蓁 said...

認清問題就等於已經解決了一半的問題。.................................................................

懿綺懿綺 said...

Thank you very much for such useful informaion ● 3●..................................................................

偉軍 said...

One swallow does not make a summer.............................................................

許紀廷 said...

Better late than never...................................................................

隆軒隆hcox軒泉軒泉 said...

單純喜歡你的部落格 留個言跟您問聲好~~............................................................

吳婷婷 said...

God helps those who help themselves...................................................

香廷香廷 said...

很棒的分享~希望不會打擾您............................................................

曾法幸 said...

實在是太完美了!非常感谢!给心心!(〃ω〃)............................................................

徐俊賴靜雯賢 said...

唯有學習不已的老師,才能認真的教,唯有燃燒自己,才能點亮他人的燈............................................................

翊瑜張 said...

找一個懂妳的人也期許自己做一個人懂別人的人............................................................

李宜毛正任昌 said...

Necessity is the mother of invention..................................................................

王辛江淑萍康 said...

Knowledge is a treasure, but practice is the key to it.................................................

惠宛佳桂 said...

快樂,是享受工作過程的結果............................................................

宇緯陳陳宇緯陳陳 said...

I love readding, and thanks for your artical.............................................................

雅王任 said...

獨居時,要反省自己的過錯;在社會大眾之間,則要忘卻別人的過失。..................................................

冠陳儒 said...

來看看你逛逛blog囉,加油!..................................................................

法榮陳法榮陳法榮陳 said...

快下班囉~來問個安,跟您打聲招呼..................................................................

1615 said...

教育的目的,不在應該思考什麼,而是教吾人怎樣思考......................................................................

佳張張張張燕張張張張張 said...

河水永遠是相同的,可是每一剎那又都是新的。..................................................

瑰潼 said...

看到好文章心情就很好 ^^

千TatianaCallan惠 said...

祝福你人氣不減ˊˇˋ............................................................