Toward a Love Which Endures

If a colleague, friend, or family member should be pushed to sincerely address my movement through life, he or she would without a doubt refute the charge that I, if for only an instant, turned my back on the question of love. The question of love is at the heart of my work, and, because it is at the heart of my work, it is the work of my life. Finally, the work of my life has always been the work of my heart. The etymologist knows well that with heart comes spirit, will, courage, intellect, and desire. For if in the heart there is courage then let it always be courage in the face of the anxieties of our desire. The etymologist further knows that desire arises after the falling of the greatest star – that is, the loss of the guiding star that leads the wisest of men toward their savior. For with love, there is no savior, there is only courage in the face of what comes to be lacking in wisdom.

Some resolve that love is a private affair. By this account, it is possible for the anonymous man to fall in love with another, and without any awareness by the partner. Yet, it has been said that the love is nonetheless genuine. Mystical love is always a type of anonymous love. Very often, when two people proclaim their love for one another they decide to withhold any narrative of their encounter. The mystical lover refuses to allow language to torture the purity of the experience of his love. Consequently, the love remains only a vague collection of emotions, and directed toward an obscure object of affection. The mystic retreats into language if only to torture words enough to defend the indefensible: “I can not tell you how much I love you!, Words can not convey the love I feel for you!” The reader would be wrong to conclude from this that mystical love is false love, or that mystical love is somehow an obstacle to mature love. Rather, it is possible that mystical love is the foundation of love itself, for, if love is to have any value whatsoever, it will be from the support of a position which maintains that love is a rupture with language, and with the old world. Love will force the most confident of men to stutter and stammer, and it will reduce the most graceful woman to shakes and sweats. Love is an interruption into language, into speech, into the body, and, finally, into the world.

However, we should not be foolish: mystical love does not endure. The most passionate of lovers who lack conviction enough to torture language with their love will die. If at one time the lovers danced like Nietzsche’s dancing stars then soon enough the lovers fall, like all lesser stars do, into the darkness. When the mind can no longer think, and when the soul can no longer intervene among the living, love has lost its home. Kierkegaard, a higher order mystic, proclaimed, to his own fault, that love is possible only for the one who loves and not, as it were, for the one who is loved. He continued, “love discovers truths about individuals that others cannot see.” Kierkegaard’s absurdity was to believe that the star hasn’t fallen to earth and that, somehow, love can endure as pure spirit without desire, or as pure courage without heart. Kierkegaard stares up to the lesser star, to that star which conceals nothing, not even luminosity. As he looks up, he turns away from the darkness of his own heart. He has not courage enough to rip the heart out from its darkness and share it with the most beautiful and radiant Regine.

The mystical lover falsely believes that something hides behind pure light. It is as if behind the lesser light of the star of desire there is the greater light which guides one in all of one’s romantic undertakings. But before the mystical lover has discovered the great light he produces it within himself – Kierkegaard becomes his own shining light, and he shines his light on everything. The lover is finally endowed with the impossible ability to love without torture, without language, and this leaves him only with the ability to love in isolation: to love without another. It was Stirner’s genius to have discovered that lovers who love in isolation could gather together precisely in their solitude. No doubt, the truth is that all passionate sexual activity is a spectacular experience of mutual masturbation. Yet, the mystics great fault is that he believes not only that he is in love with another, but also that it is possible for this other person to understand his love for her. And so the mystic falls in love at first sight.

What the mystic experiences is an encounter with love, the only encounter that matters in love. Love is nothing but love at first sight. And, moreover, love is nothing but the lost encounter. Just as the star falls down at the moment when we need guidance most, so too does the encounter with love fall after its first sighting. The mystic precludes the possibility of moving from love at first sight toward a love which endures (opting instead for love without sight or love with sight itself) because a love which endures requires that one torture language, alter the basic coordinates of the world, and move through the anxiety of the initial encounter. To move through the anxiety of the encounter means also moving through the anxiety of the lack of a second encounter by permitting language to be put to the service of love rather than love to the service of language. A love which endures does so courageously precisely because the star has fallen from the sky. One requires the courage to invent a new language, a new world, around which the changed heart can be housed.

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2 thoughts on “Toward a Love Which Endures

  1. I’m wondering if you think love requires a mutual exchange of language, and therefore a mutual torture. when I think of endurance I think of fidelity beyond calculable and symetric exchange, where like Badiou’s fidelity to a first naming, and also a supplication w/o response (as in Levinas ), there would be a continuation despite all misrecognitions. For how could this torture ever be equal in the political (social justice sense), as De Bouvier sought in Sarte .

    moreover, following Badiou’s clever line that ‘to love well is to understand poorly’, does not the mystic fail to risk this needed misunderstanding while ironically attempting to preserve their own mystery. much in line with my thinking here is a presummed need for seduction that we seem to find in Kierkegaards Giovanni. After all is love enough for its own endurance, or is this torture consist of what Badiou calls ‘fitting desire through love like a camel through the eye of a needle’? what i mean is that it seems to be a question of desire, such that the reciprocator, of say, a letter, must receive something in excess of the language that can’t entirely be pinned down as understanding ones love for themselves.

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