The young Dutch philosopher Simone van Saarloos recently released a publication, which is called Het monogame drama (The monogamy drama). The book presents a case for multi-intimacy and it argues that many people are withholding themselves from living their real desires, because of the cultural dogma of exclusive love. Van Saarloos criticizes the cultural bias, which assumes that being single is just a transitory state on the way to the monogamous love relationship. Why can it not be the other way around, she questions. The argument has much in parallel with my own work on multiple religious belonging, which you could consider as a similar case for polyamory of religious affiliations. Why is it necessary to fix your religious identity (“I am a Buddhist/Christian/Atheist”) and is the spiritual seeker considered, by cultural bias, as a transitory stage?
Last week, I also went to see the Flemish music band dEUS playing in Carré. Front man of this band Tom Barman directed a film in 2004, Any Way The Wind Blows, which convinced me to stay in Belgium for a little longer (at that time, I was living in Ghent, but being confused about the inaccessibility of the Flemish, was considering moving to Amsterdam). Furthermore, one of dEUS’ songs is called Eternal Woman. In one of the lines, Barman sings: “Maybe I’m too romantic. These expectations I should quell.” The Eternal Woman of Barman might refer to the monogamous final lover, but in a saarloosian manner, we could also understand the eternal woman as the eternal object of love, which is beyond the particular person you love. Doesn’t anybody who follows either a pattern of serial monogamy or a full blown polyamorous lifestyle agree that all lovers are different, but then again, all lovers are the same as well?
To further deconstruct our cultural biases, we of course have to get rid of the gendered eternal woman too. Multi-intimacy will definitely not restrict itself to heteronormativity and gendered beings. The eternal woman; the mother, the lover, or the Holy Virgin – isn’t this also, to speak with Deleuze ones more, the result of generalized repetition? Shouldn’t we distinguish repetition from generalization and consider every partner in intimacy as something new, as a new creative moment? The attempt to capture the creation of love in a monogamous relationship resembles a theological reflex, to worship an ultimate divinity. Van Saarloos offers us the challenge to play with identities and to be creative, which is also very synonymous to intimacy. I believe the plea for multi-intimacy is therefore a plea to refuse to accept that creation is already finished.