Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Keith Gessen on Dating as a Historical Phenomenon

Question: Where does dating come from? Where is it headed?

Keith Gessen: Well, Houellebecq would say that what we’ve had- what the ‘60s did to human sexual relations- was it opened them up to the market. So, this was the last kind of redoubt of non-market relations in human life. And what the ‘60s did- we thought that what they were doing was freeing us up to enjoy our sexuality, however we wanted. And it did do that. At the same time, it simply opened it up to market forces, so now we have a free market in sexual relations. And so, some people get to have a hundred partners or a thousand, and some are totally impoverished and have zero. And that’s the dark Houellebecqian view of things, which I share, basically. In the book, and, you know, in my own thinking about this, I see it as a problem of- I see it in kind of related terms as a problem of shopping. So, we’ve turned dating into shopping. And there’s this idea that you might get- while you might be happy with this purchase that you made, or this thing that you’re considering buying, but you might get a better deal somewhere else, in another store. Or you might go online and get a better deal. And this is exactly what people do with dating. You know, the number of choices that are before us are- or that seem to be before us- they might not actually be choices, right? But it- you know, it seems like you could go online and find all these other people that might be more perfectly compatible with you. You know, and this is something that Mark, one of my co-editors, talks about- you know, the problem that we think we need to be compatible with our romantic partners on every possible level- because, well, why wouldn’t you be? If you had the choice of everyone in the world, surely there’s someone who is absolutely perfectly compatible with you, as opposed to thinking of these things as more negotiated and sort of things that will develop over time, you know, which would be a much better way of thinking about it. And I think, you know, the book has received some criticism as being, you know, only about dating, only about these things, as if these things were frivolous things. You know, I don’t think they’re frivolous things. And they’ve usually been ceded to so-called Chick Lit, where, you know, where maybe they are treated frivolously. You know, I think it’s a very serious matter.

Question: What is sending those interference signals?

Keith Gessen: Capitalism, man! You know, the whole complex, the whole system, is going to encourage you, you know, the whole system of obsolescence, the whole system of a new product every year- you know, this is- we live in this. You know, it’s not just a few little things. We think we need a new thing every year. We think we will stay young forever. And all that- all of that- and that’s the whole culture, that’s not just part of the culture. And it is- it’s going to destroy us because we can’t live like that. The culture of perpetual growth- the idea that we need to expand the gross domesticproduct. you know, every year.

Recorded: 3/18/08

 

Why do we shop for love?

The “new normal” paradox: What COVID-19 has revealed about higher education

Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?

Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
  • It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
  • COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
Keep reading Show less

Why is everyone so selfish? Science explains

The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.

Credit: Adobe Stock, Olivier Le Moal.
Personal Growth
  • Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
  • New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
  • Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.
Keep reading Show less

How Hemingway felt about fatherhood

Parenting could be a distraction from what mattered most to him: his writing.

Ernest Hemingway Holding His Son 1927 (Wikimedia Commons)
Culture & Religion

Ernest Hemingway was affectionately called “Papa," but what kind of dad was he?

Keep reading Show less

How DNA revealed the woolly mammoth's fate – and what it teaches us today

Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Surprising Science

Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.

Keep reading Show less

The biology of aliens: How much do we know?

Hollywood has created an idea of aliens that doesn't match the science.

Videos
  • Ask someone what they think aliens look like and you'll probably get a description heavily informed by films and pop culture. The existence of life beyond our planet has yet to be confirmed, but there are clues as to the biology of extraterrestrials in science.
  • "Don't give them claws," says biologist E.O. Wilson. "Claws are for carnivores and you've got to be an omnivore to be an E.T. There just isn't enough energy available in the next trophic level down to maintain big populations and stable populations that can evolve civilization."
  • In this compilation, Wilson, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, Bill Nye, and evolutionary biologist Jonathan B. Losos explain why aliens don't look like us and why Hollywood depictions are mostly inaccurate.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast