What is the end of love

The end of love

Everything is possible - only love no longer!

Sven Hillenkamp talks about unlimited possibilities - love and sex, choice of place of residence and ways of life, career and therapy. He tells of a world in which people suffer from longing and shame because they always fall short of their possibilities.

“A great, brilliant book on the incompatibility of freedom and love in our time! It captivates and holds up the mirror to the reader. "
Ulrich Beck

"Hillenkamp's book provides a status report on love and how society deals with it."
3sat culture time

Sven Hillenkamp talks about the possibilities of love, sex, choice of partner, education, professional and emotional self-development, body manipulation, success, and fame. He tells of a world in which people have to constantly yearn because they think that they can always achieve something better.

This is not a non-fiction book because it does not remain factual. It is a book that exaggerates excessively - about a reality that exaggerates excessively. It is the expressionist painting of a world that has gone out of joint, one that knows no boundaries, in which infinite freedom turns into compulsion, unlimited possibilities into the great impossibility of love. In the end, according to the surprising finding, there is a return to marriage of convenience.

Further information on the topic:
Flirting by mobile phone (SRF, 10 to 10, February 13, 2015)

YES NO MAYBE - a documentary by Kaspar Kasics with Sven Hillenkamp
>> Watch the trailer at vimeo.com

Love, lust and truth (3Sat, November 21, 2011)

Table of Contents
Preface - The big exaggeration
Part I - Free people and non-love
One stories and visions
Two The Age of Infinite Freedom
Three feelings, thoughts of non-love
Part II - The infinity of possible partners
Four How infinity is created
Five Unlimited Me, Disappointing You
Part III - What love should be in freedom
Six The search for the most exciting
Seven The search for the right one
Eight What people think of love
End of the book (but not the search)
Nine The Return of Marriage of Convenience
Epilogue The Little Leap

Reading sample
A sociologist was once accused of describing society from the point of view of a neurotic, that is, grossly exaggerated.
The sociologist said, “It has been proven that all people are neurotic. So the neurotic view is the ordinary, the exaggerated the objective one. Even when a person perceives the color red, he perceives an exaggeration of red. So-called objectivity would be an understatement that hardly anyone could understand. Why should I describe the human with the means of physics? "
In this sense, this book is also a truly objective one, that is, an exaggerated one.
The phenomenon this book explores is an exaggeration in itself. It is the evil of an infinite freedom, infinite choice in every area, unlimited possibilities - that is, a social exaggeration that increases everything human to the infinite and thus to the inhuman.
One consequence, the first and most drastic, is the end of love. It's the tragedy of two siblings. Love was a sister of freedom. Now freedom is dragging them with it to death.
The constraints that result from freedom have been named by others. They are the subject of reports and polemics. The determination of unlimited possibilities is therefore not the purpose of the book, but its starting point. It shows the constraints of freedom in their purest form, with all the consequences. It extrapolates them, plays them through, lets their logic run free, reveals their character in the extreme situation of total realization.
The novel-like process of playing through and extrapolating, however, is always overtaken by reality. Because free people actually want to experience their selves in their purest form, to live their lives to the ultimate conclusion. The book that exaggerates excessively describes a world that exaggerates excessively.
The number of people who no longer love today is unknown. But this is not about numbers. It's an experience. This experience is typical of the time. If there is one sentence that characterizes people today, it is the sentence: "I do not love."
The image that someone makes of the future, for example of the end of love, is in truth an image of the present - an image that only shows the typical of a time, unmixed, devoid of all relics of the past. The present is like metal in the sand of a river, sometimes difficult to see with the naked eye, mixed with the sediments of time. It is only a part of itself, a beginning.
The author, who, historically and literarily, exaggerates excessively, is actually sitting at the flow of time and sifting out the present.
Many live in this present, the world of infinite freedom - and no way, no decision lead them out of this world. You cannot escape freedom into any niche, no exile. A partnership also remains - like the worship of a god, a leader - a voluntarily entered bondage, i.e. within freedom. People cannot escape their freedom with any oath or step. You cannot escape the possibilities that make love impossible.
Those who give in to the pressures of an authoritarian society adapt. Those who give in to the pressures of a free society - who have to give in - become extremists. That is why the extremists in freedom are the average: the marathon runners and circumnavigators, the artists and candidates, the don Juans and Donna Juanas, the swingers and sadomasochists, the climbers and dropouts, the immigrants and emigrants, the food addicts and workaholics, the body changers and soul healers, isolationists and exhibitionists, totally fit and broken, terrorists and gunmen, war reporters and disaster relief workers.
That does not mean anything about the moral quality of the respective extremism; it can be good or bad. It just says what extremism is no longer today: it is no longer resistance. Extremism is adaptation to freedom.
The impossibility of love does not arise in a cold, loveless society, but - conversely - from a love extremism.
The people who never love are people who actually always love - in every second, with every glance someone else. "I love" now means: "I do not love". Possibilities and still more possibilities become impossibilities. "I have all options", that means now: "I have none".
The total market becomes the disappearance of the market. Now that there are unlimited romantic possibilities, romance turns into romance fanaticism.
People perceive the external and social as internal, psychological. The unlimited own confronts them as something foreign, their self as another. People are terrorized and subdued by their own will. Freedom and still more freedom turn into compulsion. So the words fall into their opposite. Nothing means what it once meant.
If thoughts and stories in this book often come together like the scenes of a film - without summarizing what has been said again, without explaining the meaning of the respective part for the whole - it is because the reader should remain human, the experiencer, not mutate into Omniscient, clarified. Even chaos still makes a decent impression if you are just far enough away from it. Then the end of the world is also a lovely spectacle. Instead, the reader is asked to cross the world of non-love on foot, to jump from one of the stones laid out here to the other, right through the flow of thoughts.
He will have to rely solely on those inconspicuous words that connect sentences (and which are unfortunately missing between feelings, which is why feelings are often so difficult to understand): a result, a because or because, an and or so.
If the book lacks the numbered clarity of science, it is due to the method, not the will to appear enigmatic, i.e. deep. It is said that incomprehensibility is a privilege of God.
In part one of the book, non-love stories are told. It tells of the new age in which freedom becomes infinite and turns into compulsion; and the feelings of free, that is, constantly forced people are described. Part two examines how an infinity of possible partners could arise and how people deal with this infinity, rather: cannot deal with it. Part three reports what expectations free people have of love and of a loved one - and why these expectations cannot be fulfilled. The final chapter is about how the infinite search for love and life in infinite freedom inevitably lead to the return of marriage of convenience.
A hope appears in the epilogue: how free people evade great exaggeration with a small leap. [...]
The first chapter: in which the impossibility of love is only asserted and only narrated about it, without giving any reasons; in which the extinction of love is heralded at a time when the conditions of love are the best ever; in which non-love is described as a mental illness, the bearer of which is not characterized by insanity, but by a pronounced sense of reality; which tells of a city in which people fall on each other as if the city were lying on a vertical line; which tells of people who continue to look for a partner despite a partnership; who always go to the end of their possibilities; which tells of a woman who wrote her "sexual autobiography", of a young man who has already exhausted his capacity; and about a woman who is no longer so young, who disappoints a man because he doesn't know what the director's first name is Fassbinder
Just imagine!
Love is dying out. It disappears like absolutism and Soviet socialism, like the impotence of women, the hysteria of the masses, the discomfort in culture. Love will turn out to be historical even more than other phenomena. As a special feature that comes and goes with its conditions.
Love will be what it used to be again. Exception, rarity. The lovers, like millionaires or wheelchair users, become a small minority again. The majority will follow the ecstasies and tragedies of love in films and novels as the majority of theater audiences once did, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, love on the stage. Deeply touched, but clueless.
A man has lived with a woman for three years. You met each other through a website that is used to search for a partner. The woman is twenty-eight and the man thirty-four. One day the woman remembers that her profile is still on the Internet: two photos and the text she wrote about herself and her expectations of a partnership. The woman goes online. When she sees the photos, taken during a trip through Vietnam, she has the feeling that there is an eternity between the person in the photos and her. In those three years, she thinks, she grew up.
She looks for his profile, laughs when she sees the photos. He doesn't have gray hair yet, his eyes are big and sad, like those of a child who has been left standing in the pedestrian zone. Then she sees the small transmitter mast blinking on the top right of the page.
When he gets home she's made all the decisions. He says it was just a game, a pastime.
He never dated anyone. He only read the news, did not even reply. But she knows that during the three years they were a couple (they talked about children, buying an apartment, moving to another city), he kept looking. She says: "You kept looking." As if their relationship, their love, had also been the result of a search.
She says, “While I was talking to you, while I was kissing you, you weren't there. I talked with a hologram for three years. You've been in a different place, in a different time, all the time. I've been a try for you, not even that, a makeshift. You stayed in my love, in our life, like in a waiting room. "Hey denies it. But at some point he says to the silence: "There was a longing for a woman ... I don't know either."
What is not remarkable about this story is that the man searched on the Internet. The internet makes a person's search, which otherwise remains invisible to others, only visible. Whoever uses a weapon can be convicted by it. Most of them, however, do not use a weapon or search tool - only their bodies, their minds. They search endlessly with their body, their mind, moving through the city, through the registers of their memory and hope, looking for one who suits their needs.
A novel is about a young person who lives alone in a big city. He says, “Whenever I leave home, I always expect an event that will change my life completely. I expect it until the moment I return. That's the reason I never stay in the room. "
The novel was written in the early twentieth century. But his hero lived, in the experience described here, already in our present, in a beginning of our present.
People can link their hope to the network of computers or to the network of the streets. Indeed, today both the computer network and the road network, global networks, are networks of infinite hope.
It no longer makes a difference whether people are inside or outside.
A man and a woman have lived together for nine years. They met through mutual friends. You moved to another city, another country. They built a house and got married. You have two children and a dog (but no internet). Yet the man continues to search. He has a longing. He is waiting. And the woman also continues to search. She too has a longing. She's waiting too.
The people we are talking about are not necessarily lonely people. You live with others. They are married and have children. Some fall in love, work for ever shorter periods of time. It's people who are looking. They no longer leave their quest by making a choice. You choose to keep looking. They are only true to their hope.
A study on “alternative partners and divorces” shows: The risk of divorce is highest where people meet many other, many possible partners. The employment of women and the increased spatial and social mobility have increased the risk of divorce. The researchers write: "The results indicate that many people continue their search for a partner today while they are married, and that the frequency of partner alternatives, as indicated by the structure of society, significantly influences the risk of divorce."
Searching for a partner once led to partnerships. Today it is the most important reason for separation. The seeker does not even have to search. The frequency of partner alternatives does not result from his actions, from his search, but from the structure of society.
The searcher no longer needs a search tool. He doesn't even have to use his body or mind. He can wait. Society itself is now a search engine. Society is on the move. It rotates like a globe under the eyes of the people. She shows her possibilities.
Never before in history have the hope and expectation of love been so great. Never before has the happiness that they longed for and sought was so largely congruent with the happiness of love. The epoch of romantic love is not the past, but - measured by its conditions - has reached its climax.
The conditions for love seem better than ever. People meet more and more people. You are free to choose. You know what you want. No social or cultural difference seems to be an obstacle to love. Not only men but women too freely live out their sexual needs. The commercial dating agency over the Internet, which has grown into an industry, generates the greatest possible selection of sex and life partners, and enables machine-based, computer-aided searches. The idea of ​​love is no longer restricted by any other idea or structure. It is absolute, unlimited. Love disappears at the moment of its historical triumph.
Therapies fail. Psychologists speak of trauma, neuroses, and depression. You stick to the turbulence of life stories, not the turbulence of history. They regard the new way of not loving as the old one: an illness of the heart, of the mind. They do not see that the new non-love is based on a general experience, a social experience and idea. It is not a mental illness, but a mental illness - and the madness of the people is their sense of reality. The more reality one assumes, the deeper one's roots in reality, the worse the symptoms.
So it is only logical that the people we are talking about are by no means just young people; that their non-love will not be lost with time or experience. On the contrary, it grows with time and experience. The older people are, the more experienced, i.e. more immature, they become. [...]
Yet there is now something that people can oppose to the world in which they have to live. It is the consciousness of this world - of unlimited possibilities as impossibility, of infinite freedom as compulsion. People can have hope because infinity is no longer just a hope for them, but also a horror.
That is why they will not end their search, their striving for infinite development. You will continue to believe that anything is possible. You will be balancing between world famous and unemployed every day. You will blame yourself for your resignation, your cancer. The world doesn't change just because one has become aware of it. But people now gain the possibility of - naturally only momentarily - not being at one with the world, with the supposed all responsibility, with the search, with the longing and shame. So the last of all possibilities is a good one after all, a beneficial one. This freedom of consciousness actually means liberation.
The people who have only analyzed themselves are now analyzing the world again. The world that had disappeared is taking shape again, transforming from an alleged interior back into an exterior. Your own body, your own thoughts - they too are now recognizable as a world, moving clouds, as an exterior that can hardly be controlled. The possibilities become visible as walls. People regain a concept of society, beyond obstacle and opportunity. You now know that opportunities are obstacles too.
Just imagine!
Free people are returning to living as a community of existence. You knew love, so longing will remain. But now they also know infinity and have learned to fear it. To be despised.
They have lost faith in so-called technical progress, so-called communism, the so-called market economy. They say: "They were lies, fairy tales, religions."
There was only one belief they had not given up until now - the belief in freedom. You have only criticized freedom as a technical arrogance that confronts people with devices that they can no longer control. You have criticized it as a revolt and revolution in which freedom is drowned in peer pressure, the so-called freedom movement, the freedom state.You have criticized it as the capitalist freedom of competition and speculation that confronts people with a market they cannot control.
On the other hand, you have not criticized freedom as freedom of the self, which confronts people with a self that they can no longer control. With a will that tyrannizes him. You have not criticized freedom as transforming the world into possibilities - into absolute and infinite possibilities. You have not criticized freedom as freedom.
The disappointment of technology, the disappointment of communism and the disappointment of capitalism are now followed by the disappointment of freedom. The happiness of an artist reveals itself as an artist's nightmare, the free person as a prisoner in his own space. Under the bombardment of erotic possibilities, the seducers of yore run in desperate zigzags. The opportunities - once crafted by yourself - are now always there, no matter how fast people run. The seducers are occupied by the seductive oversupply. Don Juan in the disco, Casanova in the pedestrian zone - there they stand, paralyzed, with aching eyes. Free people long for finitude, for alienation: for the expropriation of what is their own, which has become alien, to what is compelling.
People say: “Infinite freedom is the best thing that has ever happened to mankind. But she almost kills me. I don't want to live in any other society than this, but this one is terrible, devastating. The longing and the shame are unbearable. My dignity consists in saying this: the longing and the shame are unbearable.
I cannot change anything about my falling into this world, falling towards my possibilities. My opportunities to love and work, my opportunities to develop and live, have not lost their gravity. But I can detach myself from the earth in consciousness, with a word, a sentence. My freedom is unbearable. I can't fly, but - yes, yes - hop. This is my revolt. No bird flight, just a childlike, ridiculous hop. But how much does it mean!
The big leap out of infinity into love is impossible for me. But with a leap of my consciousness I detach myself for a second from the world, from the epoch. Every sentence - a jump. I'm sucked in again. But I'm still floating.
"Hillenkamp's book provides a status report on love and how society deals with it."
3sat culture time, September 30, 2009

»Hillenkamp repeatedly writes sentences in his book that literally shine and that one would like to sign immediately. ... Hillenkamp's book is a warning and wake-up call, and if you read it these days, for example, parallel to Juli Zeh's and Ilija Trojanow's book Attack on Freedom, you get a good impression of what different but strong pressure is on the modern individual is exercised. It's really difficult to just stay relaxed. "
Gerrit Bartels, kulturradio, RBB, September 15, 2009

»... seldom has anyone brought the tyranny of freedom to the point as polemically as the sociologist Sven Hillenkamp in his recently published book" The End of Love ". With a clear, poetic language that is almost suggestive, he paints the picture of free people, people without characteristics, without history - and without a fixed relationship. "
Ariadne von Schirach, www.dradio.de, 7.1.2010

»Hillenkamp coos and flatters where others roar; dances where others trample. Is more compassionate than outraged, analytical instead of bold - and extremely poetic at the same time.
Sibylle Mulot, www.spiegel.de, December 10, 2009

“An eloquent, evocative eulogy for love. Impressive, elegantly formulated. "
Ursula Nuber, Psychologie heute, 12/2009

»A world of unlimited possibility lets love die. Absolute freedom has plunged man into a new dilemma - it creates new constraints for him. This is the conclusion in Sven Hillenkamp's novel essay "The End of Love". Hillenkamp's book provides a status report on love and how society deals with it. "
3sat culture time, September 30, 2009

“As it cannot be otherwise with an exceptionally good book, every summary, including every review, if significantly short of what the text offers in terms of density of thought and of startlingly clear insight. Hillenkamp's essay is more than just the theses, key words or key sentences that can be extracted from it. ... I resist the temptation, I deny myself the all too cheap opportunity to quote even one of these touching, these truly heart-opening passages. It is much nicer, much more salutary to discover them yourself on the edge of reading. "
Georg Klein, Süddeutsche Zeitung, October 15, 2009

“In terms of tone, (Hillenkamp) wrote one of the most unusual non-fiction books in recent years. With the relentless furor of Thomas Bernhard, he becomes angry with ascertaining language about "the free human being" and his diffuse mating behavior. Hillenkamp's exaggerated sociogram speaks of pure despair in the zeitgeist. "
Karim Saab, Märkische Allgemeine Zeitung, 10.10.2009

"If modern thinking was about overcoming internal and external constraints, Hillenkamp picks up where modern thinking first wanted to go: the constraints have been overcome, consciousness is in a world of unlimited possibilities and that is exactly what becomes a problem for him. Hillenkamp's book is worth reading for any reader who is interested in attempts to understand the present, to think and conceptualize the changes that may be currently taking place. "
Prof. Dr. Jochen Schmerfeld, www.socialnet.de, 12/2009

"Sven Hillenkamp's book takes you away immediately, it hits the nerve of a society, of a generation."
Regine Bogensberger, Die Furche, October 15, 2009

»Concise sentences, strong images and metaphors - Hillenkamp's trademark. He draws the expressionist painting of a world that is out of joint, that knows no borders, in which infinite freedom overturns in compulsion, unlimited possibilities in the great impossibility of love «
Simone Liss, Leipziger Volkszeitung, October 16, 2009

“The book is disturbing and polemical, brilliantly thought and just as well written. Insightful reading for modern people with plenty of food for thought to recognize and perhaps even overcome one's own behavior. And so maybe to find true love after all. "
Annette Riestenpatt, www.elitepartner.de, 10/2009

"Concise sentences, strong images and metaphors."
Marion Lühe, Tages-Anzeiger, September 21, 2009

“Setting means: setting the limits of what is feasible and controllable, striving for identity. Hillenkamp states that people strive for this, but do not have the strength to do so. Like celebrities, they always live in public and cannot withdraw or concentrate. And that won't change anytime soon. "
Christophe Fricker, Welt-Online, August 22, 2009

Sven Hillenkamp in focus
Touched 1000 times - In the current Focus, among others, the Klett-Cotta author Sven Hillenkamp explains eternal love and how it works: Hillenkamp believes that never before has the expectation been so great that you will meet the only right person. The conditions are perfect: social or cultural differences are no longer seen as an obstacle to love, and women and men hunt equally to satisfy their desires. Hillenkamp believes that "free people" have "too much hope". "You can't love because you can't stop hoping."
Focus, August 10, 2009