A few days ago, while trying to speak of, that is, teach Lacan, I declared, in one of my spontaneous fits of insight, that Lacan has two positions on love. I would like for anybody reading this blog post to comment if you have anything further to add about this.
The first position is a negative one: “love is what makes up for the lack of a sexual relation.” My claim is that this is the love that makes of the subject a coward. This version of love is not at all in fidelity to a love event, to put it in Badiou’s terms, but rather, against risk and reward, flees into love as a comfort from the real. This is why this version of love exists within the Lacanian imaginary or within the transference: it is the love that the psychoanalyst encourages within the clinic, and it is, to be brief, the love that is essential for treatment. It is through this love that treatment exists in the first place, for the most part.
The second position is an affirmative one: “love is giving what you do not have…” In this case, there is a love of an evental occurrence, that is, it is a love from within the anxiety of a real novelty, a new possibility, a contingency within the symbolic and imaginary fabric of everyday life. This is courageous love because it seeks to work-through the encounter to explore its consequences and to build a new truth.
To what extent, then, is my position all that different from the position of Alain Badiou? I’m not sure, actually. The difference, from Lacan, is one of granting a sense of virtue to the latter affirmative position at the expense of the vice of the former position.
To love, to really love, that is, for true love to exist, there must be the courage to move beyond the comfort of loving beyond lack; there must be the courage to face an event that ruptures the very fabric of your life.
Does this not explain why true love is more common among the young? The young are still, in a sense, exploring the world. They haven’t yet found comfort in the repetition or consistency of the world. It is easier for the young to find love and to believe it to be true love precisely because they already inhabit an unstable world. Thus, the young often love out of cowardice. The old, in order to be courageous, must be prepared to encounter love anew, and to find the strength to provide that love with a truth that will sustain it indefinitely.