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     //  Hermeneutics and Love




   “I love you.”

      This confession is, in fact, always a deferral. It points: A post towards inevitability. There is time implied in I love you: paradoxically, forever and it’s opposite—not never, which is forever inverted, time unending, rather merely a moment.

    “I love you” is perpetually past tense.

    “I love you” is always, and immediately, “I loved you.”

    For the lover, there is a fear of mourning which has already occurred, at the very origin of love. A fear made apparent: “Don’t be anxious anymore, you have already lost him.” A fear which is borne not of Love itself but love in a relationship to a truth: our love is at the mercy of Chance. This is the source of an anxiety which, for Marcel Proust, was the very defining trait of Love: “She was not yet dead, but I was already alone.”

    Worse still, the immediacy of love’s past-tense is twice confronted. Even while Chance looms threateningly, it is joined by another imperative: we must inevitably recognized that we never possessed the other in the first place. The French philosopher, Roland Barthes, reminds us: “I am caught in this contradiction: on the one hand, I believe I know the other better than anyone and triumphantly assert my knowledge to the other (“I know you—I’m the only one who really knows you!”)’ and on the other hand, I am often struck by the obvious fact that the other is impenetrable, intractable, not to be found.’” The realization is that “I can’t get to know you” means “I shall never know what you really think of me... I cannot decipher you because I do not know how you decipher me.” Thus, a love begun is characterized not only by the anticipation of love’s ending but the impossibility that was its beginning.

    Love, from the very start, has no solid ground. It is unsupportable. It is marked by impotence. “I love you” is a declaration of an impossible commitment: I love you as you are (love must be unconditional), but even as I love you the very proximity of my love alters you—my love destroys the you that I loved: “Albertine was scarcely more than a silhouette, all that had been superimposed upon her being of my own invention, to such an extent when we love does the contribution that we ourselves make outweigh—even in terms of quantity alone—those that come to us from the beloved object,” and “to be quite accurate, I ought to give a different name to each of the Albertines who appeared before me, never the same, like those seas—called by me simply for the sake of convenience ‘the sea.’” “I will always love you” becomes “I will always love the memory of you,” marked off, segregated, kept safe from myself—another impossibility, since memory is not a quick-access index of factual events, but serves the present and is always rewritten in its terms. Thus, we are never surprised when we confess, brokenly, “I loved you.” “We live in perfect ignorance of those we love.”

    If the impossibility of knowing the other is a source of wounding, then Aristophanes is right in his parable: separation is the source of our anxiety and unhappiness. Underlying this assertion is the claim that “love is a quest of becoming one instead of two.” “No man would deny the desire to be wholly one, always day and night to be in one another’s company... so that being two you shall become one, and while you live live a common life as if you were a single man, and after your death in the world below still be one departed soul instead of two.” If this is the quest of love, it is not only our current separation which torments us, but the promise of an inevitable future split at the leisure of Chance.

     So overwhelmed are we by the inevitable calamity of our love in the face of Chance—so jealous, so possessive are we in our resistance to it—that we create murderers in every alleyway,  hear indiscretion in every phone call, and place temptresses at our lover’s workplace. Our mind runs through checklists, attempts to conquer each variable in an admission to Chaos: “I myself cannot construct my love story to the end: I am its poet only for the beginning.” Still we throw ourselves against the sovereignty of Fortuna; To be in love is to try to contain that which is uncontainable. Thus, does the cult of love possesses such power: “to expend oneself, to bestir oneself for an impenetrable object, is pure religion.”

    That love is so threatened by Chance is itself evidence of the desire for love’s immortality, an impulse which places love squarely in the territory of Freud’s death drive. In psychoanalytic theory, the death drive is manifest in our obligation to repeat our traumas. (What could be a better description of love than a repetition of trauma?) This repetition becomes a binding agent: the psychic attempt to rework and master previous sufferings. It is a functional mechanism, characterized by a conservative urge to lead life back into an inanimate state, towards stasis. In this way, we must distinguish Love from Eros—the avatar that Freud gives to the drive towards life, propagation, sex, and survival. Eros is a deterministic drive, biologically evolved to ensure our actions are self-interested. It is the instinctual seeking of pleasure and avoidance of pain, and is only concerned with individual happiness. It relates only superficially to love and is inherently narcissistic. Thus pleasure, and sex, exacerbates the space between two people: During sex we are always alone in our pleasure. Love, on the other hand, is employed to fill the emptiness created by sex: As Lacan points out, In love the individual goes beyond himself, beyond the narcissistic. Thus to be in love, to resist chance, is to be “subject to the law of repetition: one must start time and time again.”