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.

Speech and Love

Love is what makes up for the lack.

This, at least, is one modality of love outlined by Jacques Lacan.

In this mode, love is feigned strength, it exists when one turns ones back on truth. Love is therefore something about which the psychoanalyst must be forever suspicious.

We could claim that this mode of love exists in at least two versions: (1) within the rambling of the speaker within speech – we understand this as the lovers endless attempt to reinvent the relationship, to add another signifier, another adventure, another memory for the photoblog, etc; or (2) within the rambling of the non-saying – the lover has stitched her mouth shut and refuses to say anything, and, in so doing, says only one thing over and over again: nothing.

Psychoanalysis has it as a basic foundational rule that the patient must say anything that pops into her head without censoring any of it. She must speak, and must speak without there being any guarantees. In other words, the speaker must speak, and she must speak endlessly and without any regard for sense-making. This is the foundation for the love-transference.

When the lover remains silent she thinks that she is breaking this rule.

She refuses the demand to speak, and, in doing so, speaks with even more veracity. The first lover gives always another signifier to her lover. The second lover gives the same signifier endlessly to her lover with the hope that the Other will provide her with the words which she believes herself to be lacking.

These are the words of love. When the words stop, there is no love. And so it must be found.

To speak nothing is not the same as to consume nothing – we can not presume too easily that this is the same activity as the anorexic who ‘eats the nothing’. She who speaks nothing within the clinic often does so because she wants more than ever the loved one to prove his love for her – she wants somebody else to speak for her, somebody else to be.

It is only natural that the truth of the lover’s desire is missed when the analyst or loved one accepts the patient’s demand.

It is by responding to the demand to love that the loved one only further pushes the lover, the patient, away from truth, away from knowing her desire.

It is when the analyst refuses the demand to love that the lover is confronted with the reality of her demand. This is when she is tested. And when she is tested, when her spoken silence does not receive the love she had wished, that she realizes the truth of her desire.

What is the truth of the lover’s desire?

The demands of love are tested often from the speaking of silence. The test of love is the moment of subjective destitution, the moment of subjective transformation – it is the moment when the analyst refuses to respond to the silence, refuses to respond to the demand for words to fill in the lack.

If the analyst refuses then the analysand’s psychical knot might come undone and it might possibly be retied again. But that is the moment of a small pass, it is a small decision, a small bit of freedom that only the patient can take.

The analyst’s responsibility is only to offer it. He can do no more.

But the knot can only be retied through speech.

If one analyst does not speak, the analyst will be satisfied if only the next patient does.

The Mastery / Mystery of Silence

I was once told that Erving Goffman said that it is better to keep your mouth shut and make people wonder if you are an idiot then to open it and prove them right. Recently I’ve been given the advice that I should keep my mouth shut so that people might wonder about me. It awakens the mystery, I am told. I think this is incorrect. People believe today, as they should, that the person who does not speak is a person who paradoxically says too much. They go on and on about nothing at all. He or she who does not speak presents him- or herself as a master at speech! But those who speak stand naked and vulnerable. It is only by speaking that one can truly fall in love.

Communism for One

You blocked me out of your life and stopped communicating with me. You disappeared without warning and left my son and I suffering, almost homeless, without electricity, without anything – except lots of strange excuses that began to stack up like wreckage in a dump. You invent new plots and redefined the relationship, apres coup. You watched me from a distance as my health declined, as my son cried for you, as I spent nights in the hospital trying to make sense of the change. And, from a distance, you left little messages for me, here and there – but wouldn’t accept any of my messages. You sent your father to do your dirty work, like a child. I gave you miracles and asked you for a small step: communicate with me. You said to me that you couldn’t come back because I would never forgive you. I forgave you.

It was more than you would do. You found comfort in shopping malls, friend’s homes, chats with other men who have an interest in you. I was still willing to forgive you and move on.

Today you had the audacity to ‘like’ my blog post.

Now I am turning my back on you, completely. It is time for you to have the dreams that will haunt you for a life time. I will never care to see anything you write or leave for me again. It is time for you to live with the decisions you have made.

Don’t ever communicate with me again.

It was never love.

Love Events

There is the love event. One does not wait for it to happen, it already happened. Two lovers become custodians of that event. Alain Badiou, in his In Praise of Love, claims that when the world is experienced from the point of “two” instead of “one,” from the point of view of “difference” rather than “identity,” then love exists. Love exists as communism for two. But it can not exist when there is only one.

As usual for Lacanians, the number “one” is something to be avoided. You must keep your eye on the number “one.” There are no solitary individuals, there are only individuals who open themselves up to the other that has already in so many ways intruded into them. The number two is the default number. There is one only because there was already two. This means that turning one’s back on love is what permits one to think oneself as “one,” as independent, as isolated, as alone. The truth is that one is more alone – more honestly alone – when one is responsible for the underlying “couple.”

If one gives up on two then the love event no longer exists. There is only two atomic people who think they stand outside of the gravity of the love event. Truthfully, they do not – and they will suffer for it in ways unimaginable. They do not know that they will suffer precisely because they do not know that they continue to be two.

But there are new love events, and they are every bit as contingent or random as the others. Badiou argues that “love encompasses the experience of the possible transition from the pure randomness of chance to a state that has universal value. Starting out form something that is simply an encounter, a trifle, you learn that you can experience the world on the basis of difference [the ‘two’] and not only in terms of identity [the ‘one’]. And you can even be tested and suffer in the process.”

Unexpectedly, a new chance event occurred in my life this week. We shall see if it has the potential to become communism for two.

The Love Event

I can not absolve myself of the responsibility for thinking through my recent heartache. After all, it was an unfinished book. I began writing a book that was planned to be published, titled “Inside Out: A Theory of Love Derived From Experience.” It was, in many ways, Badiou’s theory love refinished and bound for massive market distribution. Now I am writing a new story. This story is a tragedy, but it nonetheless remains true to the initial conviction.
The advice that I’ve received in the last two and a half weeks from friends and companions may be summarized as follows: ‘move on,’ ‘accept being alone,’ ‘start dating,’ ‘take pleasure in your new future and stability,’ ‘love gently and fleetingly but not intensely,’ and ‘accept that new love is possible, that is may come at any moment.’ I bring all of this advice under the heading of two broad categories: ‘against the irrational leap’ and ‘the love event to come.’
In the first case, the ‘irrational leap [to faith]’ goes against the intuition of the smart investor. One is never today expected to give it all for the chance encounter with an eternal love encounter, and often because that exposes oneself to tremendous vulnerability. The choir will sing: if, after investing all of that into something, after it breaks, is it possible to love at all? Those who do not ‘leap’ therefore select comfort and security in place of enormous vulnerability and potential jubilation. Might we not say that this is also the problem with revolutionary politics today? If one accepts the temptation to return to the comfort and security of the old world, that is, if one turns to the ideology of today – have your cake and eat it too! – then one has already failed in one’s fidelity to the cause of a new world. There is no fidelity to the political event when one gives into to the temptation to return to the comforts of the old world.
In the second case, the love event ‘to come’ is endlessly postponed, deferred, expected but, as we know with Jacques Derrida’s cruel theory, it never truly arrives. Love slips from one moment to the next, with each movement forward it only recedes further, perpetually dropping breadcrumbs only to renew a false hope of the jubilation to come. Love is not already there only because one is expecting it to arrive later, and one must open oneself up to that possibility. This is the religious conviction, it is not the conviction of the believer. It is the conviction of the pious person who already thinks he lives without love and for that reason forever seeks it elsewhere, in another place, at another time, and for another reason. This type of lover does not know that he or she already has the love he or she needs. Rather than to work the soil of her love she wanders to another garden and expects to be fed with fresh vegetables.
These twin threats to love are in fact the very definition of non-love. Against vulnerability and potential jubilation there is security and strength, as well as a sound investment. Against the love that has already been planted, the love of today and the love of right now, there is the love event that is ‘to come.’ Against the eternal dimension of love, there is only the fleeting encounter. There is lust, there are moments of rejuvenation, but there is nothing to bring with you through death.
I look to the people around me and see how they’ve mended their own heartbreak. Their love event, just like mine, has already occurred and they are just living out the consequences. Their advice to me is looped back to mend their own pain. Through me they too seek recovery without knowing it. They live the love of the one who flees and takes temporary comfort in the refuge of their advice. And then, in between the moments of conversation, the sadness overcomes them, and, if only for a moment, they realize the truth: if one turns one’s back on the eternal dimension of love then it returns in a more painful form within the real of their existence; it returns in symptoms of depression, anxiety, addiction, strange encounters with others who will never satisfy them, in a love of being alone and being a master of one’s own world, or, simple, in the little movements of the body (a twitch, a look of coldness, etc). These are the universal moments that slip through in the particular moments and behaviors of the non-lover’s everyday world.

Angel of History

l am alone as I ever was. I am a lover. I have always said that communication is the most important thing in a relationship; not because it brings understanding, but because it invents new solutions for the everyday misunderstandings. It has been almost three weeks and there has been very little communication. However, there was that one phone call, and, it reminded me that we can communicate: after three hours I put down the phone with the belief that you were coming back to me, and that we understood each other.

Today you communicate by leaving breadcrumbs. There is no dialogue. There is only the wall, le mur, l’amour. You do not communicate with me because you know that we would resolve the problems and renew our love. And you need protection against that vulnerability. So you block me, and you surround yourself with people who want you to block me out of your life. Against vulnerability, leaps of faith, you have walls and strength. Strength against vulnerability.

You say that actions speak louder than words. Well, if only that were true! It was through my actions that new words had to be invented. It was through our relationship that new words had to be invented. I converted to Islam. Why? I will say what I say, but people will always demand a better answer. I united with members of the Mosque and dozens of locals on an emergency mission to win you back. I suffered, I sacrificed, and, for the longest time, I did it alone. Throughout our relationship – actions spoke louder than words. Each and every item is a testimony of my love for you.

Now you are silent and the days keep passing. You let them pass because another day means that it will get easier for you, you will sleep better, you will wake better, and you will be capable of moving on without me. Each and every day I have made an effort to reach out to you. You have made an effort to flee from me. My actions are just as explainable as yours – they came out of great torment and suffering – but perhaps they were not as cruel and hurtful as yours. Yet, I am the forgiving one. Your actions have nearly cost me my life, endlessly. Two nights in a hospital. Vomit surrounding the walkways of our apartment. Endless nights sleeping under trees outside (thinking you might show up to our spots). 25 pounds lost from lack of diet. The endless panic attacks. The memories that stand like tombstones around me.

You leave breadcrumbs because, like the guy to the girl I met crying at one of our spots yesterday, you want to leave me but you also want the comfort of knowing that I still love you until you can fully push through to your so-called new world and future.

You told me nothing would separate us. I never believed you would disappear and never return again. I had every faith in us and in our relationship. We smiled more than anybody ought to smile. I thought we were worth communicating about. I thought I was worth something to you. I’ve been abandoned, entirely. My only point of communication is now with your father and he does not want to talk to me. He speaks in place of you, for you, and he tells me what you are thinking and how I need to act.

Without communication, there is no love. There is only the comfort of thinking your own thoughts, dreaming your own dreams, and living your own life. That is the comfort of the child. The adult is the one who wants to share those thoughts, dreams, and life with another – despite the obstacles, despite the minor things that happen in any relationship.