Tag Archives: love

“want a violent girl / who’s not scared of anything”

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.

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Why We Did It : Thoughts on A Terrorist Manifesto (ii)

The character is named “Dupin,” presumably after Poe’s famous detective. The narrator mentions several authors and genres of literature he is interested in and has read. What, if any, were the major influences on you while writing this piece?

Charm: Certainly Marx’s Communist Manifesto, of which the title is a play on though the story has little or no resemblance to Marx’s work. Michel Houellebecq’s Platform was also in my mind while writing it. Kenzaburo Oe’s Seventeen and Slovoj Zizek’s Violence were also very important inspirational pieces. The mention of true crime novels is purely an invention on part of the character; I’ve never actually read one of these novels.

L.N.: Zizek’s Violence was key for me, although no theory from it was directly applied here. Dostoevsky was also in the back of my mind. After all, Smerdyakov (from Brothers Karamazov) can be seen as a terrorist. Smerdyakov’s childhood contains violent episodes and rejection. Smerdyakov also manages to get away with murder. The question of why he did it is the most fascinating aspect of the novel.

The character’s relationship with his mother is frequently mentioned in his childhood memories. Is she meant to be sympathetic or hostile to him?

L.N.: Neither one trusts the other on some level. He does not comprehend how she seems to have two sides. If she notices that he is having problems, she does not pursue them, or he wants to believe that she does not. Similarly, in his adulthood, he has mixed sympathy and contempt for abused women.

Charm: The relationship between the narrator and his mother, though I don’t think we intended it to “mean” anything more than what it is, is certainly two-sided. However, if we reflect on the relationship on the mother-child relationship in general and look at some of the general trends of our times, I do think that our narrator’s relationship with his mother is somewhat typical. Since the so-called sexual revolution, the Freudian dynamic between mother and child has changed. The mother’s role, according to Freud was not only to provide sustenance (the breast petit objet a) but also to provide love. Mothers still probably provide the same amount and quality of “love” to the child, but the state of subjectivity has passed from “I am hungry” (one of Freud’s subjective necessities) to “I am afraid” [this line of reasoning taken from Zizek’s Living at the End Times]. So: although the narrator does love his mother – and father, for that matter – he is equally afraid of them, their actions, their attitude toward him, the uncertainty regarding them. To take it one step further, today, we are not really afraid of losing our lives – we are more afraid of losing our livelihood, that is, the means to sate our hunger.

Also, as LN mentions, in his adulthood the character’s attitude toward women is ambiguous. On the one hand, he desires them; on the other, he conjectures that their desire is based on wanting men who are seemingly the opposite of his own person. This opposition is only on the surface because although he is neither cowardly or brutal, he intentionally commits acts of violence against large groups of people. This kind of violence is not a display of “power” per se, the kind of power brute physical force that might attract a woman. It is of a radically different order: the power to destroy without any hesitation, to kill indiscriminately without any remorse (even genocides single out a target, “kill only these, not these”).

Does your story imply, in part, that people become terrorists based on bad experiences in their lives, rather than simply for ideological reasons?

L.N. The “aesthetic of terror” does attract the so-called “disaffected,” but to oppose “ideological” with “personal” reasons is inadequate. As Zizek writes in In Living in the End Times, there may not really be pure, non-ideological reasons to begin with.

Charm: Certainly one’s life experiences affect the way one attains being in the world. However, as LN mentioned before, not everyone with similar experiences to, let’s say, our narrator, will turn out to be a terrorist. Here is where the ideological dimension intervenes, along with a purely personal application of individual will. Even if one’s ideology inclines one to terror, this does not necessarily mean one will commit acts of terror. In a sense, terror is about willing ideology as opposed to mere praxis; it takes a tremendous amount of energy to plan and execute any kind of major terrorist act.

on the keeping of animals as pets

The keeping of animals as pets is one of those fantasies: an elongated sense of companionship – punctuated by a spasm of grief, followed by absence, indifference, and the occasional cruel stab of a memory. (The same is at least as true for friendship and love.)

my unknown son, born of lies.

to love
is my
greatest
wish.

my son
was born
without
me.

(i may
have loved his
mother
once;
i made love
to her
many
times.)

but she
told me
you were
dead.

if i
had known
that you were
born …

(tears.)

my wish
to love
may have come
true.

can i
love him
whom i
do not know?

my boy
it pains me
more, more!
to say:
no.

(some day,
if we
meet, i
will be
ready
to start
to love
you. i
promise.)

boy / girl aphorism

If bodies were composed of metal, how easy it would be to electro-magnetize them – saving us all this ridiculous game of “boy versus girl in the world series of love” (Theweleit).

critique of valentine’s day: why love is no longer a site for truth

No rose without a thorn. Yes, but many a thorn without rose. – Schopenhauer, A Few Parables

The lover would test the beloved, friend would test the friend; the testing no doubt is based on love, but this violently burning desire to test, this wishful craving to put love to the test, nevertheless testifies that the love itself in unconsciously insecure. – Kierkegaard, Works of Love

Sex without a condom now exists only in fiction. Only novels and films preserve the memory of free copulation, with no precautions – old, immoral practices which future generations will doubtless laugh at unrestrainedly. What will they make of these irresponsible images of entwined couples obeying the dictates of pleasure alone? But they will understand the eroticism of chastity belts even less. – Baudrillard, Cool Memories IV

Love: the most personal site for an event that would initiate the procedure to truth is opposed to Art, Politics, and Science. That truth can be established between two beings in the forum of love is now an almost utter impossibility; the encroachment of the economy (which is not a site for the event of truth) into the sphere of love turns the pursuit of truth into a game.

Who can say that they love the Other with the militant fidelity that the Truth requires? Very few, if any, I would say. We are reminded of the story of two lovers who are too impoverished to buy each other gifts; she sells her beautiful hair to buy him a diamond studded watch strap, he sells his platinum watch to buy her tortoise-shell combs. Sacrifice is the essence of this story, and sacrifice is precisely what is missing from the site of love today.

Love can no longer provide the site for the establishment of truth between two human beings; how many lies are there? how many proofs of love are necessary in order to either love or be loved? how many lovers are willing to sacrifice their beloved for “something / someone better?” No, for all the discourse containing love we may be sure it has disappeared entirely from our being; this is not unlike the Romantic vision of Nature: it could only be an object of reverence after it had been laid waste.

The commidification of love via Valentine’s Day is none other than this: a challenge to believe in love, a challenge to men to give tokens of their love, a challenge to women to accept their lovers’ gifts. If you really believe in love, you will “celebrate” Valentine’s Day! If you really are a man, you will shower your beloved with confections of all sorts, flowers with the scent of beauty, precious jewels mined by children. If you are really a woman, you will accept these gifts as your due (not unlike a prostitute – but at least the prostitute has the dignity of not being deluded into believing that she is loved).

So, why do so many “rise to the challenge” of love posed by Valentine’s Day? The need to “prove” that one loves can no longer be sustained by the simplicity of the sentence, “I love you.” Words are cheap, they are free. Anything that costs money is more a proof of love than a sonnet, or a villanelle, or a rondeau – and this is the sadness of our age of supposed “free love.”

To love should be a duty (‘Thou Shalt Love’), not an injunction (‘Thou Must Love’). We will take up love to display our militant fidelity to the beloved – whether we are loved or not. To put it in the words of the poet who never wrote a poem:

“But when it is a duty to love, there no test is needed and the insulting stupidity of wishing to test is superfluous; since love is higher than any proof, it has already more than met the test, in the same sense that faith “more than conquers.”

The reality is that we look upon love not as a duty, not as serving a cause, not as a limitation in which there is a certain kind of liberation (the kind of liberation writing a sonnet bestows: infinite capacity within a finite form). Today, “to love” is, at best, a tedious chore that one only goes through the motions of; a chore serving the principle of performance, not the cause of desire; a “freedom” that no one wants but knows not what to do with.