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.