Blesok no. 22, August-September, 2001
I Love You, Sweet Creature
It says by the entrance of a nine-floor building, No.1 Šaban Zahirović Street in Tuzla. The majestic graffiti painted with fancy letters on the grey wall in the spray-technique. This graffiti is not majestic because of its design but because of its content – an inscription about love. It looks like a picture-book for children in happy wonderland. You can hardly believe your own eyes. In a country where medieval inscriptions on tombstones are dignified inscriptions about death. Where the dominant religions emphasise modesty as an important virtue. Where after centuries of coexistence the valuable cultural languages are proclaimed to be an insurmountable disparity. In a country where 14-year-old girls are kidnapped. Where bombs are put into houses and cars, where journalists and returning refugees, even ministers are killed. Where people eat contaminated food and take pills whose date of expiry is from the past millennium… April 2001 in the Balkans (capriciously resisting globalisation) is really not the month when the unemployed and constitutive citizens of B&H should pass by this message without noticing it. Because April is the famous month of lovers who (usually) chirrup beneath the blossoms. In the wonderland that is B&H. A land of friendship between the sexes. Between sexy nations. So, my dear citizens-passers-by, with a desire for a legal state and European integrations, if we look back and if we don’t find under the incriminated graffiti the scented fruit of love, is there hope even for an ordinary tolerance between creatures that proudly call themselves people?
Because, as the firmly convinced fighters for human rights would say: friendship between a man and a woman is possible. Men and women spend their married lives together even when the initial love “fades”. They take care of each other through the sweet good times and the every-day bad times. They give birth to crying children and raise them. They sleep in the same bed breathing (without make-up and unshaven) nose to nose. They earn their pension and rheumatism together, why not also friendship? Orthodox feminists as well as fanatic macho-types would cite numerous examples to disprove the too open-minded idea of male-female friendship. For example, the “deficit of qualities” of the female sex or the excess of “primitivism” in the male sex. This (perhaps?) erotic animosity originating even from the primal community, now, in the 21st century is emanated as “hyper-modern” sexual chauvinism founded in the aggressive tendency to “cheat on a girl” and for the guy to “get laid”, but also in female plots to “hook” the naïve prospect like a goldfish into the aquarium of marriage. Ergo, this animosity is merely a substitute for the ancient pseudo-fundamentalism in the struggle for supremacy between the sexes, another chimera among the chimeras that affect our inert material world. The examination of this eternally current thesis requires a multi-disciplinary approach. And a method that will not rest on the stereotypical viewpoint rooted in the ideological dogmas about the sexual relations and friendship between the femininum and the masculinum. On all the meridians, the human race, which has long been prone to decadence in the promotion of “cultural models” whose imperial lack of consideration is revealed by museological barrenness, is being degraded both on the human-centred and the ecological level of existence. The simplest proof of the apparent malady of the mater-patriarchal civilisation is the need to defend a thesis for the possibility of friendship between a man and a woman, instead of trying helplessly in infernal pains to (unsuccessfully?) prove the opposite: that friendship between the sexes is impossible.
Unfortunately, the truth is bitter: friendship between Adem and Eve is perhaps possible and perhaps not. And those condemned by nature to love, condemned to the dramatic role of primordial parents or revivers of the human race after the flood (like Deucalion and Pyrrha), now, thousands of years after the primary divine experiment in genetic engineering, wander like cursed clones among lost emotions and unfulfilled closeness. Was Plato right when in his philosophical writings he notes down the legend about love where man was born as a hermaphrodite creature able to jeopardise even the position of the almighty (but malicious) gods? Was the punishment for the promethean vanity of the integral human beings the division into the male and the female half eternally destined to search for one another?
Or, let’s be practical, where is the basis for the animosity between young men and women who piloted by libidinous necessity constantly and unquenchably yearn for one another (until they find each other) and who are (allegedly) incapable of “dealing” with “fatally dangerous” friendship? Does that mean the love is not friendship, or that friendship excludes love? Or does the answer lie in the “values” that the youngsters, losing their authenticity, acquire from society as they demand recognition of their personal identity. Modern psychology (if modernism is a guarantee of reliability) says that people condition themselves in relationships according to three factors: the biological, psychical and social. Those lovers are determined by natural instinct, personality and their social environment. In this way the modern witchdoctors of the soul have brought full circle the “holy trinity” of Freudian dialectics between the instinctual id, the personal ego and the civilisational superego. The pluralism of this trinity in the totality of inter-cultural relations is the magic formula for the harmony of male coveters mainly suffering from the Oedipus Complex preferring little women similar to their mothers or Electra’s subjects who look for authoritative neighbourhood lads in order to (finally and without punishment) subject themselves to the very image of their adored fathers.
Furthermore, the psychologists say that love is more intimate than friendship. Love demands complete surrender to the loved one and the abolition of personality boundaries. Love demands the readiness to sacrifice oneself, to go beyond the limits of one’s own life. This existential drama is evident in the famous love of Romeo and Juliet, Pyramus and Thysbe, Omer and Merima. And also in less pathetic and more political cases of the parent’s sacrifice for her child (Maksim Gorki’s novel “Mother”) or a sister’s sacrifice for her brother (Antigonae). “Will love be able to sing as lovers have sung of it?” is a paraphrase of a verse about freedom by Branko Miljković who gave his last breath for love & poetry & freedom… Actually, it was never firmly established for what and how the unfortunate poet Miljković lost his enamoured head (“Too strong a word killed me.”).
Let’s consider: do the previous facts about sacrifice in love mean that friendship has no such dramatic power? Does the friendly sacrifice of Gilgamesh for Enkidu (travelling across half the hemisphere into the underworld to find the plant of rejuvenation) or the revenge of Achilles over the Trojans for Patroclus death mean less than the love sacrifices of the above-mentioned heroes? Does that mean that we will find friendship in every love and that every friendship “hides” the seeds of love?
At least today in mega-urban neighbourhoods, at the beginning of the newest era of the third millennium, it is not unusual to see gay and lesbian couples who want to live a “normal” human life, have (adopted, or cloned?) children, legal marriages, inheritances, divorces, affairs and the like. As in John Schlesinger’s movie “The Next Best Thing” where Abbie (Madonna) in a moment of (mutual) weakness becomes pregnant with her gay friend Robert (Rupert Everett). Can anyone who has a long-term friend (of the same or opposite sex) guarantee that they have not woken up at night in cold sweat from a dream of the “forbidden” embrace? Does that mean that the hormones in him/her have overcome the cultural prejudices and that as “polarised extremes” they can never be in indifferent balance? And what if these are androgynous elements of the story of the hubris that is, of course, as old as the world. Even Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of sexual perversions. Even in Ancient Greece the famous philosophers and artists were blasphemised because of their paedophilia and other “love mischief”. Like the beautiful and to men unattainable Saphe. Like, much later, the eccentric Marquis de Sade. So who can say for certain that there is not within each one of us a concealed sexual saboteur who has more appreciation for good “camaraderie” than for unstable love and prefers a reliable long-term (but concealed) “softness” to a heterosexual fire for which one must secure socially verified emotional “fuel”? Who can firmly establish where love stops and sin begins? And vice-versa.
At the end of euphoria, what remains of sexual passions after the fire of being in love and the greed for the flesh pass irretrievably? Is the rest of life of the former “love-birds” only a cage of habit? Is Eros so rapturous and fascinating that in the extreme, where the starting and the ending point of eternity overlap, he transforms into the dear face of death? As the visual symbol of love – a heart pierced with an arrow – suggests. Is there enough sense and joy in humble friendship that is more stable than dangerous impaling love? Is the highest value, then, contained in the self-sacrificing drama of destructive passions of a civilisation based on consumerism? Opposed to that, isn’t the security of a reliable friendship a value worthy of the ideals of a humanoid culture? Why is honest friendship such a rare phenomenon? Why do we have to discuss the possibility of friendship between a man and a woman? Do the answers to these controversial and crucial questions remain immanent but not manifested precisely because of the scholastic pseudo-historical habit of searching for solutions in the misty mythological past? In the ancient organisation of the family, for instance, in matriarchate. Or even further in cosmology, in the Book of Existence? Today we speculate about what the relation between the different roles in the family might have been in the time when men were “public property” and children even “legally” belonged to the mother. The only thing we know for certain is: Men did not like the subjugated position. That is why from the time when patriarchate become the dominant form of family (and legal) organisation it is evident that the biological resources of women became the privileged and verified “property” of the father or the husband. And women were branded as witches that “ride on broomsticks” for abusing without authority the powers that, otherwise, belong to the Phallus. Or they were pacified, subservient slaves in the corner of the family. That male protector and mentor of female innocence receives the task of preventing unauthorised possession and intrusion into the “genetic good”, the “valley of delights” where one can reach only after completing the complicated social procedures.
Young people that desire each other have to accept the complex rituals of meeting, wooing, dating and, most importantly, getting employment. Because it is in this way that civilisation ensures (refreshes) its labour forces for the creation of surplus value from which the employer pays the salaries for the sustenance of the finally begotten family. And this socio-economic code is fed as an additional repressive factor into the biological (evolutional) parameters for the mutation of the dominant and best quality (today ideological) genes of the human race. The consequence is that in April 2001 the people with the most sex-appeal are the corrupt members of the political and economic jet-set and the singers & actors & models that they favour for their entertainment (high-life). Not the way it was in Ancient Greece or India: scientists, philosophers, wisemen and kings superior in spirit, morals – never in unquenchable greed.
What are your roles, reader? What game do you play on the margins of the ordinary social scene: man, astronaut, boy, nun, young man, stewardess, artist, girl, policeman, mother, general, woman, director, mistress, grave-digger, sister, secretary, doctor, teacher, etc? Have you lost your original notion of yourself after the use of such standardised models? Are we people before we are members of nations and cultures? Croats, Serbs and Bosniaks before fat, robbed, ill, unemployed, bald, pimply and badly dressed. Far away from the European Council. Are we people before we are females and males? Is the “Fatal Attraction” (Michael Douglas & Sharon Stone) the true way of eroticism and a struggle between bed partners – instead of support and understanding? Without mercy in their proud hearts, enamoured Gypsies permanently “fly into the sky” (with a blade between their ribs). Without mercy the noblemen of Tsarist Russia condemn Anna Karenina, an adulteress who dared to throw off the hypocrisy of mannerism. Her, a renegade from the male hearty bone who dared to live by her own standards (selfishly – Lav Nikolayevich would say, steeped in Christian morality). So Anna, like Medea and like Fata Avdagina, suffers according to the ancient hubris of pride and passion. And there are no friends to offer her sanctuary. There are no friends for those who rise above the average.
Opposed to the misery, an anonymous citizen of Tuzla wrote I LOVE YOU, SWEET CREATURE and panegyrically announced the existence of erotic rapture untainted by hate. With Arcadian naïveté fit for the authentic Eros, he believes that he will not be rejected, that his love will be requited. His darling is a “sweet creature”, not a witch with a broomstick nor a piece of furniture with a rigid grimace, but a pet of the genuine joy of love. Intoxicated with hedonism, the brave lover did not idealise the “lady of his heart”, he did not turn her into an ideal icon like the Romantic poets. His mermaid is not as sublime as the Christian Madonna, nor does she posses the pagan lasciviousness of Messaline. With urban directness, she is simply sweet – of her own accord. She grew up in the neighbourhood that way and she is presented that way in the semantic poster to the right of the doorway. This joyful ditty and renaissance masquerade (although in form condensed into graffiti) are the first harbingers of spring in Bosnia. A Bosnian spring of love removed from politics and hate.
Why do I believe that the writer of this brilliant inscription is not female? That the hand of some writer-heroine did not inscribe the already cited magic letters. For the strutting blond boy with a haircut like Brad Pitt’s. Unfortunately, the young ladies in Bosnia and fraternal Herzegovina show no such predisposition. To go out in the “small hours” of the night armed with a spray-can and with unwavering determination paint the words so different from every-day common sense. To promote the sexual sector of urban culture. They (in predetermined scenery) still rush in great numbers to the safety of their parents’ home around 10 or 11 pm. This upbringing practice is, unfortunately, stimulated by slave-trade, kidnappings and rapes (but also by deep-rooted conservatism). If it was any different, this essay would not exist. There would be no need for it. Because the devotion to public love would more easily compete with public displays of hatred. Because the virus of disobedience and resistance to generational brain-washing would spread faster. The generational brain-washing is so potent that it can turn hippies & punk-rockers, dancers & rappers, grungers & techno-surfers into frenetic consumers of turbo-folk, pseudo-tradition and chauvinism. The adored creatures of the opposite sex should not suspect that I am blaming them for the unacceptable danger of opportunism. No! The female entity in B&H carries the least amount of guilt for the holocaust we are living. My intention is to initiate a dialogue about friendship. And if I am wrong, let the brave don Quixotesses “attack” me like a windmill whose wings flap in vain.
Theoreticians of the sociology of mass-media and political marketing all agree on one point: the conflict between generations is conceived as a phenomenon of the psyche in the family. Collective derivates of the conflicts between the younger and older generations (male and female) on the level of social groups have been imposed later on. The legend about the fall of Uranus where (according to Freud) the titans as sons in the primal horde dethrone the father in order to get to the women (and to power), is manifested in contemporary virtual society through behaviour and style. E.g. the parents resort to adultery and the children take drugs. Or: the adults excuse their spiritual insensitivity with responsibilities imposed by working hours, and the offspring react to this with delinquency. Towards the family. Towards school. The generation gap produces the global decline in authority. Through the legend realised in this way, the violence in the struggle of “everyone against everyone” is transferred into the root of emotional life. Love and friendship are possible only as companions of aggressiveness and as a recess between battles. Not as a natural state. It was only during the time of industrialisation that the phenomenon of free time enabled the youth as a generation to collectively articulate their own interests towards other social groups (adults, authorities, teachers, the army, etc.). Until then, freedom was reserved for a narrow circle of the elite who, also, strictly supervised and educated their young generation. In the 20th century, the young generations reacted to the cold war and the Vietnam syndrome with the sexual revolution, the “velvet” revolution that redefined taboos and roles among the sexes. But shortly after that sexual freedoms were abused in the media and transformed into the pornography market.
The consequence is: after the rebellious 60s, the coming generations benumbed by AIDS, narcotics and the torture of the media in post-industrial states of the West, instead of a revolution, they are realising fabricated fashion and music trends that due to constant repetition of patterns (behavioural sampling) lose out on their power and authenticity. Fashion, design and the disco-industry as segments of the industry of the conscious have a direct interest to produce such a state. This is why we should (not) be surprised that in technologically undeveloped societies where the rule of law and democracy is not at the level of an open society, the local elite promotes pseudo-traditionalism (new folk music, surpassed ideological rituals of the ethno-religious concept) in order to become dominant on the territory of its own national “culture”. This local interest zone in countries created out of Tito’s Yugoslavia, for instance, is exposed to uncreative imitating of macro-models copied from the primary industry of the conscious of global (and globalising) centres of power. Thanks to this absence of creativity (and how can one possibly be creative in a chain of surrogates?) the newly established rituals and mythology take on an obscene infantilism of grotesque proportions. The post-modern style of combining everything with everything which is consistent and aesthetically justified in high art, is transformed in the products of newly established political and commercial kitsch into a degenerative face of devolution – the Balkans media Frankenstein.
Instant love and jaded friendship in a variety of scenes played infinitely many times, like in a TV-soap, have become the cult feature of interpersonal relationships. An authentic emotion is as valuable (and as rare) as a unicorn or the Mona Lisa or the Star of Africa diamond. People are lost in the litter of exhausted emotions. And it no longer matters who is male and who female, when even those primary roles have been subjected to ideology. It is equally tragic to menstruate and to ejaculate when the final product of the basic biological operations is a political clone. And a clone of directed, targeted hatred at that. Since love is impossible, let’s surrender to the toxic river of tar from the entity furnace – this is the message of the local B&H fascists in their overly expensive shiny suits. In their newest cars. Purchased with the tears of Hope from Pandora’s box.
This is why it is important to know: is love really a matter of identity? In the struggle for a determined ideologically corrupted soul, individuality is the “last oasis” of rebellion, but also the “no man’s land” of conformism. To be programmed to love only the members of your own culture & interest group necessarily leads to political homosexuality. B&H Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks were formed as nations in the 19th and 20th centuries, in the derivatives of history of their own country and in the interactions with neighbouring countries: Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia. Also with: Austria-Hungary and Turkey, with Catholicism, Christian Orthodoxy and Islam, with Europe, Asia, etc. Therefore, the identity of the B&H peoples is complementary both internally and externally with their nearer and farther surroundings, but it is in no way colonially dependent or subjected to its partners in the creation of its own (but also their) cultural profile. And it is not natural for nations born out of their homeland B&H to seek identity and sanctuary outside of it. It is even less natural to put up barricades of hate between the intertwined B&H peoples whose culture and particularity are an integral part of their whole multiethnic being. That is why it is important that the author of the here cited and emotionally potent graffiti exalts that he needs a sweet creature, that the meagre monolith of his identity lacks a non-identical quality that is different.
What are we when we love and what are we not? What are the B&H obsessions in post-Dayton love and inter-entity friendship? Which nation is No. 1 on the chart of love? Bosniaks, Serbs or Croats, or others…? Should we prefer marriages within the same nation or the so-called “mixed” marriages? Is it better to get married before a priest in God’s house or to register the love bond before the municipal authorities? Which marriage is the happy one? Are all happy marriages unique and all unhappy ones just copies of the brutal every-day life? The contradictions and (false?) dilemmas read into the ontology of the newly established practice are not a trap in which the “poison of the Bosnian melting-pot is brewing”. On the contrary, I would like to humbly point out that the unity of diversities is the leading evolutional principle in the development of species and a cultural stimulant for the promotion of the harmony that makes the motion of life dynamic. The negativist vision of chaos, suffering and claustrophobia that the Balkans Nazification offers as the all-encompassing point of view is not of natural origin. That emotional restriction – perversion – is a result of the knowledge of the approximation and political marketing in the domain of the constructed view of the world.
But if the human soul resides somewhere near the (patriotic) heart, and the heart is soaked in hatred, what kind of an identity is that? Who does this (national) affiliation belong to? Which nation will admit that animosity towards others is its cultural credo? A useful answer is offered by the contrast between the fascist reality and the graffiti dedicated to the sweet creature, it is offered by the thesis of friendship between primates condemned to love from the moment they were banished from paradise. Because “with toil they will feed off the land”, and “to people and tribes (be divided) to meet” “in the diversity of languages and colours”. Grant us, God, more young men and women (self)confident that their fate is beautiful and good, and not ugly and evil. Young men and women immune to hatred, capable of critically assessing the existential models of the world they inhabit. Just think, my dear textual passer-by, how many generations came and went from this Earth, how many thriving cultures, and we are still debating about the possibility of friendship and setting limits of love in the cordial circle, mine or yours…
Translated by: Ulvija Tanović
1. H. M. Enzensberger, H. Marcuse and others;
2. See the works of K. Popper and George Soros
3. Postmodernist eclecticism from a removed perspective offers associative unity of the superficially apparent discontinuity;
4. I. Andrić, M. Selimović, M. Dizdar, A. Muradbegović, A. Šantić, B. Ćopić and “Hasanaginica” are all openly adopted by the loudest adversaries of the Bosnian and Bosniak identity;
5. Bible, Book of Genesis 3, 17;
6. Koran, XLVIII, 13;
7. Koran, XXX, 22.