More love, please!

Andrea Rodríguez Novoa
March 29, 2023
Núria Güell, "Ayuda humanitaria", 2008-2013.
Núria Güell, "Ayuda humanitaria", 2008-2013.

Among all the books that pile up and get replaced on my bedside table, there is one that remains and has been filled with post-its for six years: Fragments d'un discours amoureux [1] (1977). In it, Roland Barthes explains love in the mouths of others, in the mouths of many, and his writing joins the writing of those many to explain love from a coalition government with multiple voices. Aside from my complete admiration for all his work, when I reread it in August 2017, this compendium became a cornerstone text because it seems to me to perfectly condense the keys to the society we want. And I say this in reference to the content, yes, but above all to the form, because of that collaborative writing that develops a semantics of communication in which common and differential concepts are equally important. Barthes elaborates, alludes, comments, and collects quotes from Freud, Verlaine, Goethe, Lacan, Nietzsche, Balzac, Sartre, Bataille, Hugo, Stendhal, and a long etcetera of authors, to portray love in a structural way, and he does this at a time (1977) when speaking of love is, in his own words, "an act of an extreme loneliness."


And it's because love is pure politics: the quintessential social contract.


"Desmayarse, atreverse, estar furioso,
áspero, tierno, liberal, esquivo,
alentado, mortal, difunto, vivo,
leal, traidor, cobarde y animoso;
mostrarse alegre, triste, humilde, altivo,
enojado, valiente, fugitivo,
satisfecho, ofendido, receloso;
creer que un cielo en un infierno cabe,
dar la vida y el alma a un desengaño;
esto es amor, quien lo probó lo sabe."


I remember the full verses of this excerpt from sonnet 126 by Lope de Vega from memory since school. In his Rimas Humanas of 1634, and specifically in this poem, the author speaks of romantic love, and I think today as I remember it that it could be applied to very diverse loves: romantic, empty, sociable, vain...


I also think on romantic poets (in masculine) and how necessary is to revise the myth of romantic love, historicize and contextualize it in the feminist, queer, and transgender struggle, since love permeates us personally, symbolically, and sexually. In this sense, philosopher Paul B. Preciado shed a renewed light in 2002 with his Manifiesto contrasexual, a work in which he proclaims the equivalence of subjects, breaking down the barriers of what traditionally is associated with the idea of masculine (belonging to the man) and feminine (belonging to the woman). This liberation from gender codes would also imply a new understanding of the idea of love and partnership and the power relationships that it has historically implied. Much could be said about what the discourse of love has historically legitimized, and while I consider R. Barthes' position at the beginning of these lines to be accurate, his references are also highly reprehensible for their masculinity. And while sonnet 126 is moving, it perpetuates the idea of courtly love.


And because love is multiple, I won't just talk here about the love that is generally assigned to a couple. Let's talk about brotherly love, filial love, or simply love, empathy, friendship, especially friendship.

Quoting and contradicting Zygmut Bauman at the same time, I would say that while love can be something exclusive and liquid [2], friendship is characterized by being unconditional and lasting. Against Michel Foucault's biopower [3] and its application in biopolitics [4], Franco Bifo Berardi advocated the politics of friendship [5] back in 2015 as a way out of the current system, as a chain of micro-loves that united off and online would allow us to abolish the prevailing individualism and think and recognize ourselves as a solidarity body, something that cognitive work hinders by making productivity constantly absorb our lives.

Artist Céline Condorelli (born 1974, France, living in London and Milan) was thinking about work and friendship in her publication The Company She Keeps [6] (2014), which accompanied her exhibitions Céline Condorelli (Chisenhale Gallery, London) and Positions (Van Abbemuseum). In it, she collects five conversations with friends (Nick Aikens, Avery F. Gordon, Johan Frederik Hartle and Polly Staple) to explore collaborative work, the politics of the company one chooses to keep, and friendship both between people and with ideas:

"Perhaps one of my favorite definitions of cultural production is making things public: the process of connecting things, establishing relationships, which in many ways means becoming friends with topics, people, contexts. In this sense, friendship is both a way of working and a dimension of production. The common thread of the following pages is friendship as a form of solidarity: friends in action."


In her conversation with Polly Staple and Nick Aikens, curators of respective exhibitions, she addresses the practice of friendship and support in her work as an artist and the relationship between making exhibitions and the question of how to work together.

Indeed, the exhibition space –and time– is a stage for trial and error where these social relationships can manifest and evolve in a condensed form. In this political space, Cypriot artist Haris Epaminonda (born 1980) expresses herself, retreats, problematizes, and moves us. Her collections of diverse memorabilia, images, texts, sculptures... are placed in spaces that she designs herself and that exude mystery. She composes architectures that often stand as a "museum within the museum", as if speaking about beings by their absence, as pointing to an agora to be inhabited.


I will end this text with that line of thought: "a thing inside a thing." I have been reading these days Una casa fuera de sí [7] just published by architect Victor Navarro. At the risk of simplifying his discourse, I will say that he talks about how in 1977 Frank Gehry transformed a simple pink house into his own home, largely inspired by his experience designing shopping centers. The shopping center, which started with a good intention, aimed to recreate (or rather create if we think of the West Coast of the United States) urban life in a container, and F. Gehry transfers that succession of experiences to the way a home is thought. Idealistic and sensible, it seems evident to me that a political space can reach scales as diverse as the street and the house, or should we simply think of different scales of home?


Victor Navarro applies the expression being out of oneself "not only when we lose our nerves, but also when each of these nerves has decided to act on its own," and speaks of the collective and disorderly movement of a distracted body. Here are some lines from the author that resonate for me as a clear definition of political life, referring to the way we define our spaces:


"To furnish the world is to apply the coherence of the distracted body to architecture; it is to let what was there and what is added find links, while showing their irreconcilable differences; it is the space of relationship and complicity that emerges when in conversation all the interlocutors overlap in speaking (...)."



  1. Barthes, Roland. (1977). Fragments d'un discours amoureux. AUX ÉDITIONS DU SEUIL, Collection "Tel quel".
  2. The term liquid love refers to a concept created by Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, developed in his homonymous work to describe the type of interpersonal relationships that develop in postmodernity. According to the author, these are characterized by a lack of solidity, warmth, and a tendency to be increasingly fleeting, superficial, ethereal, and less committed. Although the concept is often used for romantic love relationships, Bauman also develops the concept to talk in general about the liquidity of love towards others.
  3. Biopower is a term originally coined by French philosopher Michel Foucault to refer to the practice of modern states of "exploiting numerous and diverse techniques to subjugate bodies and control the population." Foucault introduced this concept in La volonté du savoir, the first volume of his Histoire de la sexualité. (Wikipedia).
  4. The term biopolitics is a neologism used by Michel Foucault to identify a form of exercising power not over territories, but over the lives of individuals and populations. This type of power is called biopower. The concept has been taken up and developed by other philosophers ever since, such as Giorgio Agamben, Toni Negri, Paul B. Preciado, and Roberto Esposito. (Wikipedia).
  5. Iborra, Yeray S. (24 de octubre de 2015). "La amistad es la manera de salir de la explotación actual." El Diario.
  6. Condorelli Céline. (2014). The Company She Keeps. Book Works, Chisenhale, London y Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven.
  7. Navarro, Víctor (2023). Una casa fuera de si. Editorial Caniche. Colección la Menor.