Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 9, No. 6, 2010
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Robert J. Lewis
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Mark Goldfarb
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Sylvain Richard
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
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Emanuel Pordes
Serge Gamache
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Lydia Schrufer
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Barbara Ehrenreich
Leon Wieseltier
Charles Lewis
John Lavery
Tariq Ali
Michael Albert
Rochelle Gurstein
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward





How do you manage to love a little?
. . . everything which is not total seems parsimonious.
Roland Barthes

There are children in the morning
they are leaning out for love,
they will lean that way forever.
Leonard Cohen

Like the child leaning out for love or the cat that curls itself around our feet and legs when it wants affection, we are ‘forever’ looking for love. The poet Wordsworth writes: “the Child is father of the Man.” Since there isn’t anyone who wouldn’t rather be liked than not in his daily interactions with friends, colleagues and acquaintances, we would all rather be loved than not in our romantic life.

When children – unlike adults -- want love and affection, they go straight for it because the marvellous instinct to lean out for love has not yet been mediated by self-consciousness. Observing children reaching out for love makes us long for the time when our needs and response to our needs constituted a single vocation. All that changes with the onset of puberty and the ego’s discovery that it is in rough seas with other egos. With self-consciousness and the concomitant loss of immunity against the judgment of others -- a loss from which the adult never fully recovers -- our sense of who we are and how we comport ourselves becomes captive to how others perceive us, or, more precisely, how we perceive others perceive us. And this holds especially true in our relationships.

Experience teaches those who are teachable that what is essential in life is often learned when it is lacking, and that learning happens when the operations required to attain an objective are performed. We learn the value of money when it is in short supply. We come to appreciate a simple bed after sleeping on a hard floor, the importance of community when deprived of it. We learn most about love when it has been refused.

Society regards and rewards single men and women differently than couples. Singles, perforce, view themselves more self-critically than their married (partnered) counterparts. After a certain age, singles who are still out there looking for love are de facto publicly confessing to a deficiency in themselves because they haven’t found what others have found and are therefore flawed in some way. In order to protect themselves from relationship disappointments and pain, many singles try to convince themselves that they’re not looking for love, that they don’t need it or want it.

Our abiding fascination with being cool -- a pre-emptive defense mechanism summoned to protect the emotionally vulnerable against pain – betrays our essential fragility when leaning out for love in societies that judge and reward couples more favourably than singles. Being unloved, in its accusation and singularity, validates the longing to be cool and the development of the mental muscles required to attain that blissful state. Aspirants deem themselves successful when they wake to discover that they are at long last indifferent to the conceit, condescension and pity exhaled by the smug society of couples. Blessed are these tough-minded, mental acrobats who, in order to endure the unkindest of Kismets, are able to will themselves (with or without mind-altering therapies) to the state of coolhood.


Sex workers are uniquely qualified to unravel the mysteries of love because they receive unfulfilled men from every walk of life who pay top dollar for all that she embodies that masturbation cannot supply.

If all of us want to be loved, some men who have been turned down by women still want to be loved by them, even though they have come to hate them as a consequence of rejection. They will have paid court to a favoured woman, admitted they were alone and no longer wanted to be, and played the game only to lose. Some of these men who have lost in love frequent sex workers. Like abused children who become abuser adults, these men treat the sex worker -- who symbolizes all the women who have rejected them -- as they were treated (or perceive they were treated) in their courtship defeats: unfairly, callously. They turn her into a mechanical device to be exercised for their pleasure while ever mindful of the consolations afforded by tough language and rough play.

All of this would change on a dime if the sex worker were to take a romantic interest in the client, which is what he secretly hopes for, especially in the very safe context of there being nothing to lose because nothing is expected. If some males, puffed up with the power of purchase, frequent sex workers to revenge their hurts, others, unsatisfied by the emptiness that is at the heart of revenge, turn to wooing the sex worker, regaling her while she dutifully provides the illusion he has bought into, temporarily staying all traces of past hurts and rejections.

Given each of their radically different motivations, initial contact resembles a collision that both parties, in advance, have decided not to avoid. The collision damage waiver is never an option because both parties have implicitly laid bare their essential needs and appetites: an unholy trinity of sexual, psychological and economic confluences.

In the exercising of her profession, the sex worker is not only privy to every manner of sexual appetite, but the full spectrum of men’s emotional life and manner of asking for – not just sex – but love. If it were simply a matter of bursting seed, self-gratification would suffice. When a sex worker is engaged, the sex is almost always a means to other ends and significations which have nothing to do with sex: human contact, intimacy, empowerment, all of which the sex worker is implicitly expected to provide. This same 'means to other ends' holds true for the sex worker for whom apparent economic motivation betrays deeper emotional needs that sex work satisfies: the desire to be wanted or treated in a certain manner, the need for attention, love, control.

Not unlike a priest, every time a sex worker receives a man she is receiving his confession. But the greatest confession comes from the man who is her partner in life, who, despite her sex work, loves her. These exceptional men are not impostors, are not putting on airs, nor are they deluding themselves. They embody the most profound asking of the question of love. All of them, without exception, have come to a remarkable understanding of the meaning of love because they have had to strip away everything that doesn’t properly belong to it so that what remains is love’s pure (invariable) essence.

Since we are all wired to bond and couple, code for possess (she is ‘my’ wife or partner, he is ‘my’ husband or partner), a man who is in a loving relationship with a sex worker must, out of necessity, subscribe to an entirely different notion of what it means to bond and possess in the context of sharing his partner’s body with many different men. Most men stiffen at the mere thought of the exchange of body fluids between their woman and another man, or worse, other men. It violates a man’s deepest instincts, goes against every religious and social proscription, and exemplifies a humiliation from which he may never fully recover, especially if he suspects his inability to satisfy has precipitated his partner’s disaffection.

To grasp the essence of love, we must go where love is least likely to prevail, deep into the psyche of the male who is in love with a sex worker, who abides her work as naturally as he would abide her working as a teacher or software programmer. What remarkable insights does this man possess that allow him to regard the penetration of his partner by many different men -- some of whom are complete strangers -- as an occurrence wholly lacking in significance? What does this man among men understand about love that needs to be learned?

In his every day life, this man is a construction worker, who, from Monday to Friday, hammers nails into boards of houses that don’t belong to him and are therefore houses that mean nothing to him. Like an automaton, he wakes up and perfunctorily plies his trade as a means to various ends: to pay for his food, lodging and other necessities, and modest pleasures his limited income allows, one of which is -- during weekends -- the construction of his log cabin on a lake property he recently purchased.

Thus, the two principal activities in his life -- hammering nails into boards to make a living and hammering nails into boards for his pleasure (his log cabin) -- viewed and described by an objective observer are exactly the same: the hand holding the hammer is raised and brought down on a nail resulting in a board being purposefully joined to another. Yet during the week, he feels unhappy and exploited in performing the identical movements that during the weekend are a source of joy and pride. Since it’s the same activity in both instances, we must attribute the attitudinal disparity to the mind’s inherent capacity to arbitrarily assign meaning and value to the various entities and activities that engage us in the course of daily life. The cabin belongs to the construction worker which makes his labour a labour of love since the cabin will constitute, not unlike his own flesh, an outer dwelling and protection of his person. It is there that he will receive his family, friends and necessary small society that constitute the ground of meaning in his life.

This man who is in a loving relationship with a sex worker knows (feels) that the sex between her and other men means nothing and between themselves everything, just as the hammering of nails into an anonymous building means nothing and everything as it concerns his log cabin.

The construction worker and sex worker both understand that love -- the impulse that carries them towards each other -- while it entails a practical, physical component, in and of itself, is independent of anything material, which is why a couple in love need not have to be in each other’s physical presence to feel love.

The man in a loving relationship with a sex worker acknowledges that there is a fleshy thing going in and out of her vagina, it discharges, it deflates and then is no longer there. What is always there, regardless of the physical facts in the boudoir (being together or apart), is their mutual love, which, once established, is independent of any physical component. A daughter who loves her father in life does not love him less when he has passed away. A loved one can be 10,000 miles away and the bond isn’t in the slightest diminished because love, stripped of everything that does not belong to it, is essentially metaphysical.

In human relationships, sex complements bonding but it should never be mistaken for love. When older couples outgrow their need for sex what remains if it isn’t love? Love cannot be quantified; it hath no measure. Like gravity, it is a force felt but not seen. The exceptional man who is in love with a sex worker, who regards her work like any other, understands love in a way that illuminates its essence, most perfectly revealed in children when leaning out for love.

Every time Don Juan (the world’s greatest lover) leaves, he is confessing that he is incapable of love. Every time a man discovers himself in a loving relationship with a sex worker, he is not only challenging the conventional wisdom of love, he is quietly declaring that he is the world’s greatest authority on love.

also by Robert J. Lewis:
Hijackers, Hookers and Paradise Now
Death Wish 7 Billion
My Gypsy Wife Tonight
On the Origins of Love & Hate
Divine Right and the Unrevolted Masses
Cycle Hype or Genotype
The Genocide Gene




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