True love is modest, like that of a couple in a Marguerite Duras novel: while the two lovers hold hands, they do not look into each other’s eyes; they look together outwards, to some third point, their common Cause. Perhaps there is no greater love than that of a revolutionary couple, where each of the two lovers is ready to abandon the other at any moment should the revolution demand it. They do not love each other less than the amorous couple bent on suspending all their terrestrial links and obligations in order to burn out in a night of unconditional passion—if anything, they love each other more … From what we know about love among the Bolshevik revolutionaries, something unique took place there, a new form of amorous couple emerged: a couple living in a permanent state of emergency, totally dedicated to the revolutionary Cause, ready to sacrifice all personal sexual fulfillment to it, even ready to abandon and betray each other if the Revolution demanded it, but simultaneously totally dedicated to each other, enjoying rare moments of extreme intensity together. The lovers’ passion was tolerated, even silently respected, but ignored in the public discourse as something of no concern to others … the radical disjunction between sexual passion and social-revolutionary activity is fully recognized.
— Žižek, L it ET, 109, 114
The above quotes are precisely how to turn a particular fondness for an individual into an event in the field of love. Not necessarily in terms of “revolution,” but in terms of “cause.” A dear friend of mine says: “Revolutions aside, perhaps there always has to be a common Cause for there to be love” (LN).
This is especially true today because, let’s face it, there is no revolution—there will be no revolution. An ecological disaster may force us to change, but hoping for a political revolution is vain. However, if it is possible for The Two to unite, not only in fidelity to one another, but also in a common cause both hold dear, there is hope for a revolution in the field of love. The time is coming when possible future events in this field will be foreclosed by the ever encroaching non-evental necessity of economics; “love” proper will be atomized into commodities such as “gender,” “passion,” “sexuality,” etc.
The questions inevitably arise: what is a cause in terms of love? How does one, or, more precisely, how do The Two identify their common cause? When and how to decide to betray the lover for the sake of the cause?
In the most basic terms, a “cause” is an interest. It could be an interest in nearly anything—what turns it into a cause, and hence into love, is commonality between “The Two.” This interest should NOT be a passion because passion is the desire for total unity with the object, for totalizing the truth, for forcing the truth to appear, which are all sure paths to disaster. It is possible to be passionate but a relationship based on passion alone is doomed.
In order for an event to take place on the horizon of “interest,” the notion of totality must be absent. The field of love must be open and open itself to the possibility of developing into an Event in the order of (mere) Being.
But in what sense are we to understand the term “interest?” One unexpected meaning we may give to the term can be borrowed from the jargon of finance. “Interest” in the sense that The Two invest themselves, their being, in a cause and this investment leads to an “accrual” of commitment and fidelity to the Cause.
Another way to understand the term “interest” is through the syntagm “self-interest.” Because, we know, according to Rimbaud, “Je est un autre,” the interest in “self” is, properly, an interest in the other. This is not meant to give advantage or primacy to the other insofar as s/he is other, but is to recognize that, in love, the other is the self that is loved by the loving subject; this is to be considered the dialectical nature of a truly loving subjectivity and the subjectivity of being loved.
The notion of “conflict” must also be considered along with the term “interest”—that is, “conflict of interest.” Even when an interest is shared between The Two, conflict should be ineluctable. We might call this the “amorous parallax”—when The Two, viewing the same object-interest, see it from mutually exclusive (theoretical) positions, from radically different subjective vantages. This is the point: the possibility for either betrayal or an event is at its most potentially explosive. Only by maintaining fidelity to the Cause above all else will The Two discover where love will lead them. The “lost cause” emerges when The Two choose each other, or one chooses the Cause above the lover.
Identifying a worthy cause is the task of a lifetime. To find another who shares the same interest is a matter of great fortune or determined investigation: both equally difficult. There is no knowing whether the Cause that aligns The Two is worthy of them, no guarantee that truth will emerge from their fidelity to each other or their Cause. All they can do is love and wager and hope that with effort and thought the conflict between their subjectivity will lead to an event, to deeper understanding. If it doesn’t, they will need the strength to realize that their Cause was a simulacrum of truth, and, as such, could only lead to disaster and betrayal. They will not see this as tragic. Instead they will find joy in being proven wrong, getting a chance to start anew, striving to find another Cause. The alternative to this would be to betray the Cause, leave it behind, and find another interest to devote themselves to.
How does one decide to betray the lover in favour of the Cause, or the Cause in favour of the lover? Betraying the closest thing to you is difficult—but betraying what is “in you more than you,” is near impossible. This is how it is: it is difficult to betray the one you love, but it is even more difficult to betray the cause you believe in. There is no easy way to decide which is “correct” because there is no guarantee that the decision to break will produce the effect one desires. All that is possible is to decide, to break from what is believed to be an obstacle to either the fidelity to the Cause or fidelity to the lover, and stick to that decision. This decision should not be easy to make, but it should be effortless to act upon and this is how one can identify the time for betrayal.
I do not speak of “true love,” but of the Truth of love as a field for possible meaning(s), of the site of love as a potential venue for an Event in Being.