One of the observations I began to form after turning away from the exterior world is how society is kept in check by invoking shortcuts to our root level programming, bypassing ego, and if you can conjure up a spell that does multiple hacks if you will, you can bring on that oft discussed cognitive dissonance. A term everyone seems to use these days like a mantra, but fails to understand how pervasive and entrenched it already is, and my opinion, has always been. A feature not a bug as they say. So I like to describe our current societal programming as a constant barrage of fear and ecstasy. Ecstasy alas limited to the sex drive, not to those higher intellectual states (that’s a mind trap for a different discussion). So two conditions that can bypass the rational mind/will, provoking fight or flight and let’s see Dan Fogelberg’s apt description from Make Love Stay‘, “Moments fleet, taste sweet within the rapture when precious flesh is greedily consumed.” Nicely tying lust to insatiable greed/gluttony, another condition that renders judgment moot. So the pendulum that charts the course of captured labor from a state of fear (punishment) and to ecstasy (reward) and back again. The stick and carrot that represents Zeus’ hope, the worst of all torments, and forms our expectations and the invisible walls that corral the herds of humanity day to day.
During times of, let’s say staged crisis, that pendulum can be stopped directly in the middle of the arc, keeping you betwixt both fear and ecstasy, and it shorts out not just the ego, but basically your root level action center, you are left in a state of awaiting instruction, or suggestion, and most often the state is happy to oblige with a message of obedience, reproduction, and go shopping.
Historically, Valentine’s Day was nothing more than the current title for a fertility ceremony or ritual usually involving some sort of masked or costumed festival, adding a little uncertainty and exhilaration, and plenty of alcohol, that ancient inhibition potion, to produce the required ‘environment’ for successful mating. A ritual that stretched back to long before St. Valentine and continues up to today, having little to do with the canonized figure.
Of course we’ve added another layer of consumerism to the ritual, maintaining the birth rate not as important as GDP one might say.
Psychologically speaking, what I’ve always found very interesting about Valentine’s Day is how it subconsciously evokes death. Plenty of sex and death studies, but it really is apparent when you look at how the two are so closely related in art throughout the ages.
Lyrically, my favorite Valentine’s Day music is as follows:
Each referencing death from different points of view. Bowie’s being the darkest, channeling the angst of marginalized personalities. Penn’s taking the high road with love as a form of ego slayer. And Springsteen’s a middle of the road long view, fear of literal death as an agent working on the subconscious.
My favorite love song, not strictly a Valentine’s Day song, is Rosanne Cash’s The Wheel. Highly recommended for absent minded philosophers, and fools and pilgrims on the road to find out, in love everywhere.