But there is a shadow around this image: who is to say whether a love relation is real or is really something else, a passing fancy or a trick someone plays (on herself, on another) in order to sustain a fantasy? This is a psychological question about the reliability of emotional knowledge, but it is also a political question about the ways norms produce attachments to living through certain fantasies. What does it mean about love that its expressions tend to be so conventional, so bound up in institutions like marriage and family, property relations, and stock phrases and plots? This is a question about subjectivity too, therefore, but it is also about ideology. The difficulty of determining love’s authenticity has generated a repository of signs, stories, and products dedicated to verifying that the “real thing” exists both among people and in other relations — for example, between people and their nations, their Gods, their objects, or their pets. But these signs of love are not universal, and their conventionality suggests, in addition, that love can be at once genuine and counterfeit, shared and hoarded, apprehensible and enigmatic.

–Lauren Berlant

(via Square Dancing with Giants)


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