The Brain Systems of Love

While we can feel different types of love for different partners, they all deserve the same respect and honesty.

I had always thought it was a series of emotions, from very high to very low. But actually, it’s a drive. It comes from the motor of the mind, the wanting part of the mind, the craving part of the mind.

In a Ted Talk, with the misleading title of Why We Love, Why We Cheat, Helen Fisher explores the three brain systems that are sometimes mistaken as one:

  • Lust: the sex drive, the craving for sexual gratification;
  • Romantic love: the elation, the obsession of early love;
  • Attachment: “that sense of calm and security you can feel for a long-term partner”.

This three brain systems, as Fisher points out, can co-exist and “that’s why casual sex isn’t so casual.” But in most occasions they exist by themselves and, for me, most of the time people mistake lust with love.

The main characteristics of romantic love are craving: an intense craving to be with a particular person, not just sexually, but emotionally.

It would be nice to go to bed with them, but you want them to call you on the telephone, to invite you out, etc., to tell you that they love you.

The other main characteristic is motivation. The motor in the brain begins to crank, and you want this person.

It’s the carving for romantic love that everybody searches for. It’s the type of love that people most desire and it’s also the one that is hard to find. There’s this tendency to talk about love like it’s as always the same sentiment, when it isn’t. While society has a tendency to value more the romantic love, it doesn’t mean that it’s more meaningful that the other types.

The case for Polyamory

I consider the talk title misleading because it barely explores the cheating aspect. It’s only mentioned when it makes an involuntary case for polyamory.

These three brain systems: lust, romantic love and attachment, aren’t always connected to each other.

You can feel deep attachment to a long-term partner while you feel intense romantic love for somebody else, while you feel the sex drive for people unrelated to these other partners.

In short, we’re capable of loving more than one person at a time.

In fact, you can lie in bed at night and swing from deep feelings of attachment for one person to deep feelings of romantic love for somebody else.

This is why I’m an apologist of non-monogamy. Well, apologist it’s not the best term, I think it’s better to say that I don’t see a problem with no-monogamy. Although I have no problem in accepting that some people prefer monogamous relationship. It’s a question of choices, of what we need in our relationship to feel comfortable and happy.

In part, it’s also because I subscribe to this view – of love as three brain systems, which can be independent – that I prefer hierarchic relationships. This is also the reason why I have some problems with the concept of loving all partners in the same way. But, emphasize that loving people in different ways doesn’t mean, for me, that someone is less than another one.

It only means that there are different types of love, different types of feelings. This fact is not a justification to mistreat any partner.

Love is an emotional felling; it isn’t a choice unlike respect and honesty which are intellectual and rational choices. And those are the aspect that we control, and where all partners should be equal.

It’s a question of balancing emotion and rationality, in a way that allows us to meet our needs and the ones of our partners.

There’s many kinds of cheating

Fisher’s approaches love from a monogamous point of view, which causes it’s major flaw. It explains why people cheat in monogamous relationship but not in a non-monogamous relationship. While most people equate cheating with sex, but cheating is more than that. And it’s something that also happens in non-monogamous relationships.

Even with this caveat, Why We Love, Why We Cheat, it’s one of the most assertive and rational talks I’ve seen about love. It’s worth watching and thinking about.

When the Personal becomes Political

Asking if Identity Politics is eating itself is almost a rhetorical question.

Identity politics is only now reaching the mainstream of society. There’s no sign that it will slow down, by the contrary. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the great political debate of the 21th century.

Those that are unfamiliar with this subject can watch the panel the debate at Battle of Ideas.  It’s moderated by Claire Fox  and counts with the participation of Julie Bindel, Andrew Doyle, Sabrina Harris, Jake Unsworth and Joanna Williams.  It’s a good introduction to the theme.

The idea that ‘the personal is political’ has survived, albeit giving way to an increasing fractious identity politics. The bizarre story of Rachel Dolezal, a white woman presenting herself as a mixed-race leader in the NAACP, has raised sharp questions about how we think about who a person is.

More broadly, there has been an explosion of different groups vying with one another for social recognition and respect. US writer Cathy Young argues this has led to a ‘reverse caste system in which a person’s status and worth depends entirely on their perceived oppression and disadvantage’. Burgeoning feminist clubs in universities and a diversity of gender, ethnicity, religious and cultural identity groups on college campuses and in the world of activism, reflects a substantial shift in how politics is understood and practiced in modern society. In particular, such groups are often divisively set up in competition with others’ claims to be the victim.

Feuds over ‘intersectionality’ and ‘hierarchies of oppression’ have created internecine warfare between ‘terfs’ and the ‘trans’ community, between black women and white feminists, middle-class lesbians and working-class men: checking ‘privilege’ has become a routine pastime. As some critics of contemporary feminism note, identity politics inevitably turns each individual into her own group: demanding the right to assert ‘who I am’ becomes the primary goal of political action. So when Rachel Dolezal claims to be black, who are we to argue against her self-identification?

The panel that happened during the Battle of Ideas with Julie Bindel, Andrew Doyle, Sabrina Harris, Jake Unsworth, Joanna Williams moderated by Claire Fox is a good introduction to the theme for those that are unfamiliar with this subject.

While it may seem that is insanity…  identity politics is a reality that is impossible to avoid. It affects all the spheres of our lives.

Eduardo Risso: More Than Hundred Bullets

Eduardo Risso was born in 1959 in the province of Cordoba, Argentina. He began his career in 1981, and has worked for publishers in Argentina, Europe and the USA.

100 Bullets, published by Vertigo, was the work that brought him to the spotlight. This series written by Brian Azzarello won several  Eisner, Harvey and Yellow Kid awards.

He was in Portugal in 2003 for the 14th edition of FIBDA, Portugal’s biggest Comics Festival. I aproveitei this opportunity to talk with this prolific artist. The interview ended up being more extensive than I planned. It was one of the most educative conversation I had about comics.

I interviewed Risso in Spanish. Afterwards it was translated to Portuguese and later to English. I think nothing was lost in the translation.

Continue reading “Eduardo Risso: More Than Hundred Bullets”

Fictional Suits

Aleph Synn is a jack-of-all-trades. He’s native language is Portugese but, sometimes, he develops works in English. Although he never had any formal training in that language – he never finished high school – or lived abroad.

He dabbles in various areas: writer, designer, copywriter, journalist, and letterer. While in the he had a day jobs as mailman, cook, butcher and working in client support. He also has experience in the acquisition of publication rights of foreign materials to Portugal.


Born in 1977 as Bruno Campos, Aleph Synn fell in love with comics at an early age, as a reader and author. But there was one problem: in Portugal being a comics author isn’t a profession! Unfortunately, for his mother, that didn’t prevent him from dabbling with graphic storytelling, in any medium available.

Here comes the Editor

In 1994, Bruno made he’s debut with the fanzine Arkham, that  followed by UltimactoAardvark, a guest stint as editor of Boletim do Clube Português de Banda Desenha and finally Bizarro in 1997.

Soon he was spending too much time coordinating and publishing other people works. He was forgetting his projects.

That’s when he decides to focus more in his writing and less in editing or publishing projects. Tired of being only know as an editor,  he created the pseudonym Rohke Vorne. Which is a somewhat childish reason to use a pen name, but he was young!

The Life and Death of Rohke Vorne


When Bruno  started publishing zines, in the late 20th century, he used to write and draw his stories. With the change of name to Rohke Vorne came also another change: a focus on the writing. He started to collaborate with artist like Brian Heyboer, Janus, Phemad, João Mascaranhas or Daniel Maia.

While he wrote lot of stories that were never drawn, other had a saw the light of day. Published by him or in other places like Nextcomics,Terminal and Cyber-Extractus.

The big accomplishment of that phase was the minicomic Useless Mess, with art by Phermad, published by Dr. Makete in Portugal and NonaArte in Brasil.

In 2002, Bruno transformed the fanzine Bizarro into a webzine, so he could publish some of his stories and reach a broader audience. Something which ended up being a time consuming job, without any pay. And, besides that, it prevented Rohke from devoting more time to his creative endeavors.

Bizarro had a team of several editors. It published comics, reviews, news, interviews and galleries in an insane rhythm, for a non-profit publication.

Bizarro left little time for Rokhe to write his stories. Then, in 2004, everything that could go wrong went wrong, and Rohke Vorne disappeared without a trace.

How Chaka Sidyn was derailed

In 2007, after three years without wring a single line, he decided to bring back Bizarro, to celebrate its 10th anniversary. Bruno starts writing again under the name Chaka Sidyn.

The Bizarro 10th anniversary edition was never published. Chaka Sidyn only made some feeble attempts to write again. Meanwhile, he keeps working outside of the creative field, only doing some odd jobs of design.

He decided to return to comics after the Great Colapse of 2009 and the Relapse of 2011. Which resulted in the publication in 2012 of Minizine, through the Sanktio Comix label.

Sidyn’s was also working projects for webcomics, comic book proposal and graphic novels. But another project derailed them.


Bruno Campos started writing articles and reviews about comics for his fanzines, and continued to do it for publications like Mondo Bizarre, BDesenhada and Central Comics.

In 2013, he decided to start writing again about comics in his blog, aCalopsia. But soon that project evolved from an individual blog to a collective blog, which sometimes resembles a comics news website.

Besides the duties of blogger/journalist he’s also the editor, coordinationg a team of pro-bono collaborators and webdesigner or, being more accurate, webmaster.

The Birth of Aleph Synn


Several circumstances lead to the birth of Aleph Synn. Most of them aren’t relevant for now. It marks a new beginning, it represents something its creator values and other despise.

It’s the final stage of a convoluted story, whose that is going to have a unexpected twist.

And so it begins…

How many times can you reinvent yourself before you lose yourself?

After going to hell and back, the beast is once again alive and this time it plans to stick around.

The plan is to leave behind the irrelevant and focus in what matters, to finally become what he always want to be.

It has been a tricky road with more downs than ups, but that’s what means to be alive. We win some, we lose some. We just need to learn to live with it and adapt to the circumstances.

Life seldom allows an individual the privilege of doing everything he wishes. In particular, when there’s a wide range of interests and few resources.

In life we need to make choices, we need to learn to make them and stick to them. Something that is easier said than done. Now, I just need to remember that no one can keep me down, except for myself.