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UBC Theses and Dissertations

True love stories : the tropical production and authorization of meaning Aoki, Douglas Sadao


The reason that modern love is not postmodern is that it insists on being psychological. The reason that sociology treats of love so poorly is that it insists on not being poststructuralist. This project inverts this double steadfastness, in order to sociologize love as a production of its own tropes, and move from feelings to discourse without leaving feelings behind. Love's emotional body is not denied by a poststructuralist sociology, but poststructuralist theory recognizes that both the body and sociology are radically textualized. This realization puts into doubt canonical notions of feeling and fact, truth and validity, lucidity and experience, reality and representation. What emerges is literally academic literature: true love stories. As Hannah Arendt writes, "We who for the most part are neither poets nor historians are … [nonetheless] preparing the way for 'poetry', … [as if] we are … constantly expecting it to erupt in some human being." The poetics of love manifest in flights of metaphors. Then the discourse of love is distinguished by how those metaphors infloresce its meanings. If love is constituted through its tropes, any definition of it cannot but fail. This is not a descent into romantic nonsense, but a shift to a different sense of love. Love becomes open to all the polymorphous movement and play of the poststructuralist sign. Yet modern love is the tropical discourse that denies its tropicality, for modern love is love that claims that it is real. The credibility of this fiction can only be maintained through a puissant regime of truth, one which aligns love with a narrow rhetoric of Nature and mystery: "Love is just that way;" "Love explains itself;" "Love is love." If such homey platitudes are read carefully enough, they betray themselves as devices of brutal, constitutive closure. The imperative of a poststructuralist sociology of love is to deprive the modernist consciousness of such conceptual orthopaedics, in order to force it to open itself to less comforting but more compelling fictions.

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