Ambigamy: Love’s Lost Labors

Ambigamy: Love’s Lost Labors

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Last song in a series of three, here’s one whose target audience is not the middle-aged but rather the young and restless. It was inspired by an argument I couldn’t get started with someone who only wanted to talk about how the media was to blame for youth culture’s slide into promiscuity. I agreed with her about the media but thought other factors also contributed to shifts in attitudes toward sex and love. The friend would hear none of it and so I wrote this song. It mirrors ideas in an article I wrote a year ago called Mid-wife Crisis 

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To my friend’s point, I’ve finally found a copy of The Century of the Self, Adam Curtis’ four-part BBC documentary about the influence Freud’s ideas and family had on the rise of modern consumer culture. Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays founded the field of public relations and is credited with pioneering advertising’s now ubiquitous appeals to subconscious desires, thereby promoting insatiable mass-market demand for non-essential goods and services. Freud’s daughter Anna was instrumental in the design of US government policy toward mental illness prevention and treatment.

I anticipated a conspiracy theory but have been very impressed with this historical account of what I regard as the inevitable expansion of consumerism with its many troubling consequences. Do take a look at it if you get a chance.

My song emphasizes the ways that our modern conveniences weaken the bonds of marriage. Centuries ago marriage made sense as a way to accomplish many practical tasks, but today most of these tasks can be handled other, typically commercial means. As a result, partnership is treated either a recreational elective or a transcendental magical sexual or romantic union, rather than as a practical necessity.

But enough theory. Let’s rock to some theory.

Here’s a draft of me singing it with a virtual band:

All that’s left is love
Microwave for meals
Day care keeps the kids
For risk you’ve got insurance
For company you’ve got vids

You’ve got Walmart for the larder
Central air for when you’re cold
Then they’ve got those nursing homes
To keep you when you’re old

If this were 1830 we’d need each other more
For every little want; for every little chore
What’s to stop a body from going it alone?
All that’s left is love.

Repairmen for the odd jobs
For husbandry the vet
Washers do the laundry
For sex you’ve got the net

Ipods to inspire you
Agribiz tills the soil
Machines to do it all for us
At least till we’re out of oil

If this were 1830 we’d need each other more
For every little want; for every little chore
What’s to stop a body, from going it alone?
All that’s left is love.

Marriage made a lot more sense back in the good old days
Why did they love thee? They could count the ways
We’re down to two-just sex and love
to justify a pairing
And that accounts for the absurd amounts
Of weight those two are bearing.

We’ve got hobbies to keep you occupied
And pets if you want to pet
When lonely you can join a club
There are shrinks for when you fret

For romance we’ve got the chick flicks
Which whet our appetites
Love comes alive: we feel deprived
On our dark and lonely nights

We pair, we care, we try to share
At least a little while
We break, we flake, big mistake
Marriage is still in style

It’s not that we’re free spirits
We’re married to the mobs
Dependent on the market
Addicted to our jobs

And it’s not that we are sinners
Obsessed and over-sexed
With less to keep us bonded
Who wouldn’t ask, “who’s next?”