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From soulmate to Tinder

What about love, in the age of “sex friends”, social networks and the great market of feelings that develops according to algorithms, as sociologist Eva Illouz shows in her book, La fin de l’amour (The End of Love). All around us, people are wandering in and out of love, to the point of despair and disgust. So many couples examining each other, constantly wondering whether it’s right to stay together, and so many divorces.

From Him and Her to La La Land, there’s been a paradigm shift. Perhaps for the first time in the Western world, we’ve moved away from the myth of the androgynous, recounted by Aristophanes in Plato’s “The Banquet”. This myth is that of absolute love, without which we cannot be ourselves without the beloved, since we are only half of a whole. In La La Land, we discover the trajectory of two lovers who prefer their careers to their relationship. Passionate about their art and themselves rather than each other. A modern-day romance! Just like Cinquante nuances de Grey, which ignites the erotic imagination impoverished by the pornographic flood, “the capitalist industry par excellence that sells bodies without feeling”, according to philosopher Giorgo Agemben.

Without feeling, that’s the problem today. Do we even have time to love? As Hartmut Rosa shows in his book Acceleration, the major experience of modernity is the acceleration of time. The space for love is reduced. We live it in episodes, moving from context to context, unconnected: brief moments of life. Perhaps that’s why we love series so much, as mirrors of our lives cut into episodes, our disjointed lives in which we try to weave meaning through those of others.

And yet we all ask ourselves: what is the meaning of life without love? What’s left of our loves? It was the title of a song by Charles Trénet, and today it’s the great quest of our age, in need of love. How can we rediscover the passion of love and re-enchant it?

This book proposes a solution to our lovesickness: it’s myths, stories and romantic comedies that give rise to the idea of love, just as much as philosophy. Romances and Plato tell the same story: fate brings together kindred spirits who have been separated by life. Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, Pretty Woman, Four Weddings and a Funeral – these are just some of the films in which two people predestined for each other are separated by life, upsetting the order established by the gods. Finally, after many twists and turns, the two parts of the androgynous end of the world are reunited.

Behind the Facebook profile, we need to rediscover the face which, as Emmanuel Levinas puts it, is the discovery of otherness, through its exposure and fragility: others are truly encountered face-to-face. Today, the shock of the amorous encounter is our quest for meaning in the face of technological despair. The caress of love and eroticism reflect this infinite quest for the Absolute, without which it is impossible to live.

This philosophy of love, aimed at the general public, poses the fundamental question of reenchanting the feeling of love through the concrete examples of our modernity, to save love in danger.