Love and Terror

The question is: “What would an effective progressive anti-terrorist policy look like?”
People frequently believe that acts of terror (war, aggression, etc) are the result of attitudes of hatred and intolerance. The most naive of us believe quite publicly that those who institute these horrific acts are simply evil people. Quite the contrary!
If you read the manifestos and statements publicized by terrorist groups (including, of course, the United States government during the Bush regime) then you’ll see very clearly that aggression is typically justified because of feelings of intense love. The motivating desire is not hatred of the other side, of the Other, but, rather, a profound love of oneself and one’s people. In either case, what I notice is that love and hate are indeed here the same emotion. It is the emotion of intensity. The desire for peace is the single most reliable indicator of the preparedness for war.
It is the same with leaders of ISIS. One such leader in southern Lebanon was quoted recently: “They call me sectarian, but what they do not understand is that they [Others; hezbollah, the alawites, etc] are the ones who are sectarian. What I want is a greater Muslim unity, but what they want is to split us into groups against one another.” The context is crucial: Islam, according to most readers of the Quran, is the religion that brings together all the religions of the book (e.g., the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity). Those who fight in the name of Islam are those who desire a greater unity, a greater community, of believers.
You can imagine this another way: why in cases of domestic violence do women often hear the man shout: “look at what you made me do!” or, rather, “I am doing this out of love!” What profound jealousy and aggression comes out of such a sweet and caring attitude! It is because of love that so much aggression against women occurs – not necessarily, as it were, out of hatred.

Islam, Imaginary Order, Bodies

Lacan claimed that the imaginary order and the body are related according to a fundamental logic of consistency. The body, like the image, does not appear to evaporate. It is a surface, like the skin that stretches around to contain the multiplicity of its organs and to cover the multiplicity of its holes (not only the erogenous zones but the pores as well, etc).
If we think deeply about the holes of the body then we are confronted by a certain horror. A certain death encroaches upon the world of consistency. This, for example, explains the male tendency to avoid any confrontation with the anus or with the belly button. It explains my early nightmares about carrots entering into my belly button.
Islam here shares in the Western continental tradition.
If, for example, Descartes initially distrusted the body (“extended substance”) as a method of obtaining certainty or wisdom then Islam too distrusts the image. The two are united in their distrust of the logic of consistency. In Arabic the phoneticized word “Jasad” means “body” but it also means “image.” In the Quran it is rendered in both ways. For example, in Surah 7:148 one translation reads: “The people of Moses made, in his absence, out of their ornaments, the image [Jasad] of a calf for worship: […] They took it for worship and they did wrong.” However, in Surah 21:8, the phoneticized word “Jasad” is rendered as “body” (e.g., “Nor did we give them bodies that ate no food, nor were they exempt from death.”)
The lesson that Islam shares with the continental tradition — and yet not with the Christian tradition per se — is that we ought to distrust the consistency of the body/image. The body is forever subject to the horrors of death.
Abdullah Yusuf Ali writes: “Jasad literally means a body, especially the body of a man […] it is used obviously for a human body […] but also the idea of an image, without any real life or soul, is also suggested.”

Islam: Dreams, Image, Truth

In the Qur’an, there is the story of Yusuf, who, by the symbolic power of God, has been granted the ability to interpret dreams. He does so first of all by becoming righteous. It seems to me that the righteous is the one who has removed himself — that is, the imaginary, or the ego — from the interpretation of dreams. Take, for example, Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s commentary on Surah 12: “If [Yusu] was to be of the elect, he must understand and interpret Signs and events aright. The imaginary of the pure sees truths, which those not so endowed cannot understand. […] The righteous man receives disasters and reverses […] with humble devotion [and not] with arrogance, but as an opportunity for doing good, to friends and foes alike. […].”
Thus, it was without arrogance or self-interest that Yusuf, when asked by two prisoners to interpret their dreams, decided first of all to teach them ‘faith.’ On this the aforementioned scholar wrote: “[Yusuf] does not preach a pompous sermon, or claim any credit to himself for placing himself at their service. He is just doing his duty, and the highest good he can do to them is tot each them Faith.” Surah 12:37 reads: “He said: ‘Before any food comes to feed either of you, I will surely reveal the truth and meaning of this [of the dreams] ere it befall you. That is part of the Duty which my Lord hath taught.'”
There are some things worthy of noting about Islam which have not been properly taken up by contemporary Lacanian scholars. First, Islam, more than any other religion, is, as Lacan wanted analysts to be, ‘wary of the image.’ By this I mean that the Qur’an very clearly teaches a consistent doctrine to turn away from the imaginary order (e.g., ego) and to operate at the level of symbolic truth. Second, Islam transmits a duty to its prophets which is a duty to come to know beyond the image the symbolic truth, that is, there is a duty to love the unconscious. Faith is thus the proper alignment of one’s duty with the unconscious truth which anyway propels the truth.
I have felt the asphyxiating anxiety of freedom.
It surges through and interrupts the organization of the body. It flares up as if from out of nowhere and opens up a wound that decades of living has attempted to suture shut.
Freedom is the last thing I desire.
I have also now felt the asphyxiating dimension of non-freedom. It erects walls all around me that organize my desire as well as the object of my desire; walls within walls which organize the sexes, precluding them from any confrontation with their profound lack.
I have walked the streets of Montreal and Toronto and I have seen the psychoses; there, within the freedom of the sexual relationship, the lack itself is often lacking. When I claim that the ‘lack is lacking’ it is not because the lack within the symbolic (e.g., culture) is present but sublated into a union of lack and non-lack. Rather, it is because there was no lack there at all to begin with; and there was no lack at all to begin with because the symbolic did not emerge properly vis-a-vis the imaginary so as to produce this real dimension of lack.
If the lack is lacking it is because there is too much of the real. Perhaps for the neuroses the real is there in little bits which are excessive and which flare up to produce the sensation of panic or anxiety. But for the psychoses the real is there in excessive portions which come out in bits of holophrases.
I have sat in the walls of Tripoli, Lebanon, and I have not witnessed the psychoses. There is something reassuring about the culture which, while old-fashioned, nonetheless preserves the sanity of a culture. Recall that the word sanity, which, for our purposes means, simply, neurotic, is close to the word sanitation. We could not claim that there is any religion any more sane than Islam.

The Love Knot / Knot Love

While on the airplane to Frankfurt, I discovered an interesting knot that has Borromean properties. It was put into the first class given by Lacan in his seminar on Joyce and the Sinthome. It reminded me that the way we draw hearts has nothing at all to do with the real heart. And we haven’t yet confirmed the origin of the popular drawing of a heart. It is, perhaps, something like a Platonic form.
In any case, there, within the knot is a very clear heart shape; two, in fact. One has the two humps at the top, and then, for the other heart, the two bumps are at the bottom (and so this heart is upside down). However, the two hearts are asymmetrical. The upside down heart is connected to the other heart by a twist of the two strings. But each heart, whether the upside down one or the other one, are also linked together in a way which upon closer inspection forces a turn down into the opposing heart, away from its own heart, and then back into the other side of the full heart. To return to the starting point, the same process must be completed in reverse.
Thus, within this particular knot, there is a necessity to pass through a twist. The knot therefore has within itself the topological properties of a Mobian surface. It forces, in its own way, a thinking of a twisting away from itself into something within it more than itself. The one heart may only be complete by first of all going deeper inside-out of itself. I maintain, once again, that we have here a nice example of the topology of love.
Photo on 2016-06-26 at 7.00 AM

The brain shall go there where the heart was

I was told by a Syrian brother that the Qoran teaches that Allah is closer to us than our own blood. I looked into the reference this evening and found that it is even a bit more complicated or specific than that; in 50:16 “[…] We are nearer to him than even his jugular vein.” We know that the jugular is responsible for bringing blood from the brain to the heart, it is not responsible for bringing anything from the heart into the brain. To remove the jugular it is to remove the primacy of the brain from subsumed agency of the heart.
How, then, to be closer to the Gods than to traverse the primacy of the brain and to go there where the heart was?
However, what struck me even more by this claim is how similar this ‘nearer to him than even his jugular vein’ is to the popular Lacanian expression that objet petit a (as object of the real) is that which is “in me more than me.” This, best expressed in the toplogical properties of the Klein bottle, demonstrates the strange extimacy of the unconscious. But, more than that, it brings further clarification to Lacan’s claim that the Gods are in the real. What is most interesting about the Qoran is the way in which it simultaneously boasts a true monotheism even while openly flaunting a quasi- pluralism of praised prophets (e.g., ‘bow down and worship Adam,’ etc) and names for those to whom one dedicates praise and worship.
Allah may be the only real Gods.

A Note on the Love Event

The love event begins as an encounter from the real. It is not that the lover touches the real but that the real touches the lover. There was nothing in the world which could be said to have necessitated the event and there was nothing in the world which could be said to have predicted it. In other words, there was nothing in the world which could be said about it. The love event is therefore unsayable during the primordial moment of its intrusion. We could claim that the love event occurs when something non-sensical is introduced into the world of two lovers and when, by extension, there is a demand made by the real that we speak our response. In other words, it is not enough to claim that the love event is unsayable, we must go yet a step further and claim that the love event is the transmission of the unsayable in its positive ontological dimension. This necessitates a certain anxiety in the lovers: how to respond to the demand for words about this devastating event, and how to do so without succumbing to the possibility that one must become hospitable to a future event.

There is no future event. It is not a matter of becoming hospitable to the event that is to come. The event has already happened and one has already begun to respond to it. The event always receives its response. We receive an indication of this in the anxiety felt during moments of uncertainty. The anxiety, which is a signal of the love event, is already buried deep within the chest of the lovers. The lovers have it as their mutual duty to find within the current iteration of the love event – from within the current item in the chain of succession, the current item in the archive – the event itself in its raw form. The love event demands a topological response which sutures either on the side of the real event or else on the side of the closure of the imaginary. Fidelity to the event is thus not an imaginary response to a real intrusion but a symbolic preoccupation: new master narratives are introduced which in turn produce new fantasies and new troubles.

The love event is an eternal disruption of the world. It persists despite the finitude of the lovers’ memory archive. We could claim that the love event introduces the possibility of eternity within the finitude of the world, but it does not do so by suturing on the side of the imaginary – it does so by remaining within the eternal moment of its truth. This is the greatest challenge: to resist the temptation to suture the wound of the love event, to avoid repressing its awful anxiety, and to move forward through the uncertainty of its initial encounter. The truth is that the love event could be avoided, that, in a sense, it is both excessive and eternal and at the same time it is finite and not enough. The lover is the one who holds onto the split truth of the encounter. It is possible to redefine the love event at any time but it is not possible that it will continue to be love, except in its tragic dimension, when the truth of the encounter is exchange for the temptation to do away with the hope of enduring through the love for another day. Another day of love is always another day of impossibility, it is always another day of struggle, another day of pain, another day of temptation, and another day of victory over the trauma of the real.

After the tragedy of love there is another impossibility: it is the struggle to love again, to rediscover the event in the new succession.