By Anais Ginori
After the advancement of freedom during modernity, the defining characteristic of the postmodern era is dependence. We exist today only through the eyes of others. The new book by French sociologist Michel Maffesoli, entitled Homo Eroticus, analyses our relationship with emotion in the contemporary world.
The latest stage in the evolution of our species is the homo eroticus, for whom emotion takes precedence over reason, impulse over reflection, pleasure over duty. “Eros now triumphs, both in private and public”, says Maffesoli, whose book is devoted to this new anthropological figure that has emerged in counterpoint to the homo sapiens. For Maffesoli, homo eroticus – the human being driven by desire – is at the centre of what is now known as postmodernity. Our actions are no longer a function of intellectualisation and reason, but of love, the intricate weave of emotion that surrounds us, which Maffesoli calls “emotional communion”.
In his view this is the culmination of a process that began in the West with the liberation of morals in the 1960s, and has since been strengthened by the development of new technologies, the retreat of religion, and finally the crisis of capitalism. Identity is now shaped by the law of desire, with profound repercussions in the body social. From culture to politics, everything is subject to the rule of pleasure. The paradox of this ‘liberated’ love, Maffesoli warns, is that human beings have created even more interdependence. ‘We exist only through the eyes of others’. Continue reading