Living three

Three friends, an asymmetry

Ariane Nicolas tells in Philomag a relationship between three friends that works in a particular way: Linh feels comfortable with Ariane as with Clara in isolation, while Ariane and Clara have a fluid exchange only if Linh is present. Yet it is Ariane and Clara who are the most similar. Ariane remembers a play by Sartre, Huis Clos, which makes the trial of the “infernal” relationship to three. The protagonists take turns banding together in pairs to vilify the third. The latter is accused of depriving the other two of freedom: “I am here watching you,” she confirms.

Except that in the case of Ariane and her friends, it’s the opposite. The third is not the guard of the other two, but the facilitating one. How can we confuse executioner and liberator, this is a first surprise. Can we say with Ariane that the third comes to hit the relationship with two? No, because without it this relationship would not exist.

From the top of the Whole

Understanding requires to rise to the level of the Whole formed by each set. Some Whole(s) work (2 of the 3 possible duos), not the 3rd duo. Last Whole possible: the trio succeeds very well and gives the impression of making equivalent the 3 duo(s), even the lame one. Of course not. The trio is content to create a context where this fragile duo can exist. It is not stable by itself.

The coherence of all this appears only at the level of the Whole. Like two entangled quantum particles: the state of the Whole formed gives those of the particles and not the other way around. Causality is in the Whole. It is also the notion of “third accomplice” that I use to understand the solidity of a companionship. This third is the couple, Whole surimposed on the two companions. In the case of the three friends, Linh does not need to actively participate in the exchange. She symbolizes this Whole placed above the Ariane-Clara couple and derived from the trio. It brings stability by its mere presence.

Sartre’s trio is a possession, not a sharing

Isn’t it surprising that Ariane seeks in Sartre the explanation of her strange relationship, rather than in a psychologist? She notices that Sartre had become angry with the three relationship after the failure of his attempt with Beauvoir… and a multitude of conquests-objects of passage. Olga Wanda Nathalie Dolores Sally Evelyn… Long is the list of women treated as furniture, installed and dismissed by the two famous philosophers, who quickly had only a platonic relationship with each other.

This is the worst possible illustration of a household. Physical fascination has nothing to do with intellectual fascination. Opposite ends of the Stratium, instinctive base and abstracting vertex. The Sartre-Beauvoir example is that of a possession of others because it was impossible for them to possess each other. Archaic age of the couple, stable only in the dominant/dominated relationship, the woman in a position of subjection, at least for the gallery in a culture that demanded it.

In philosophy, the temptation of religion

Ariane’s generation is supposed to live the balanced couple, with shared powers. Ironically, if the young Ariane had met Sartre and been seduced, she would probably be smearing him today as a Springora did for a Matzneff. Why does she take such an individual as a reference?

The great philosophers are monuments to our contemporary chroniclers. But they possessed neither physics, nor neuroscience, nor psychology other than sketchy. Why continue to quote their learned pediment when their universe lacked these essential cogs of understanding?

Doesn’t philosophy, after creating science, tend to become a religion again? Because it feels devoured by its child, besieged by the certainties of scientists. The philosopher takes refuge in her animist pantheon. Another way out is to become a nexialist, a polydisciplinary of knowledge, to grasp the tool adapted to micromechanism. Avoid taking this old libidinous Sartre to dissect the relationship of a trio of women today.

Cosmic analogy

Does the balanced couple really exist? Not so obvious, when you see the number of those who fall. The old fashion, wrong with its asymmetrical power, was more stable. Main planet with its moon in orbit. Two suns of the same size find it more difficult to find an agreement, especially when their masses vary in each context crossed.

Many contemporary couples function by having kept track of the old asymmetries: father-daughter, mother-boy, rich-poor, possessor-posseded. The adult-adult relationship is considered the ideal to achieve, but it is naturally unstable. No dependence, no fixed center, it is likely to switch at any time to a more stable asymmetry with another companion. But then wouldn’t a trio of adults be more balanced than a duo?

What basic social unit?

This is what Ariane is experiencing with her girlfriends. Certainly they do not have sex likely to dangerously shake the triangle. But perhaps sex could fit in if it wasn’t possessive? This brings us to the question of the best formula for the basic grouping between individuals. Is the couple still the most suitable for today’s society, if relationships abandon the asymmetry of power and become truly adult-adult?

How many companions love each other but find the couple suffocating? Permanent presence of the other, his habits, his expectations. Expectations modestly concealed, in some, because they know the other incapable of meeting them. That they threaten to destroy a fragile balance. The couple is a corset that tightens, and we begin to serinate, for ourselves and others, the good reasons to perpetuate it.

Interest of asymmetry in our analogy

Astronomically binary and multiple stars represent 2/3 of star systems. Binaries are asymmetric; often one of the stars has been ejected from the breast of the other. Binaries with equivalent mass are exceptional. Multiples are always asymmetrical and work well. Asymmetry produces more durable formations than symmetry in a changing environment. It finds a more complex stability, more resistant to upheaval.

Is it pure misdirection to look for the ideal molecule for society in the chemistry of the stars? Humans differ from a star… by a much greater instability. An incentive to look for even more complex associations?

The couple is not a closed system

This is what happens spontaneously in society. The family and friends system participates in the couple’s relationship. More or less close, balancing or disruptive, they generally consolidate the couples already welded, reveal the flaws of the others. In the long run, they play a major role in the definitive companionship found by each of us.

The couple is never a closed system. It is a core, whose robustness strengthens the social circles around it. Nucleus itself propelled by the engine of pleasure, of a fulfilling sexual relationship. It is the favorable ontology of the couple, which makes it a resistant social atom. Its oscillations are reduced within the molecule, along with all these other associated particles around it.

Other companionships are clearly radioactive. Destined to explode sooner or later. The environment of the residual particles will recreate the next atom. Back and forth in complexity. Trios are more stable than duo, while too many become chaotic again.

Entropic evolution of empathy

Can we change the basic social functional unit with each era? Difficult, since it is the prior cement. But is the couple, the simplest unit, the structure adapted to the complexity of today’s world? Is it not because of a strong surge of individualism that our contemporaries continue to favor it? Easy management between two adults who combine their resources rather than their ways of seeing the world.

This contractual relationship is no longer the fusional couple, whose warmth radiated in family and professional circles. These boilers are disappearing. Can we see, then, the cause of a weakening of empathy, the rise of the individual-king, the generalized cooling of society? Entropic death of collective solidarity?


Tête-à-Tête – Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, by Hazel Rowley
The threesomes of an inspired duo
Gabriel Matzneff and Vanessa Springora

Synthesis on gender/sex/feminism

Leave a Comment