A fugue on love

Love can only consist in failure…on the fallacious assumption that it is a relationship. But it is not. It is a production of truth. – Alain Badiou

“He who has loved and who betrays love does harm not only to the image of the past, but to the past itself.” -Theodor Adorno

“Naturally, Love’s the most distant possibility.”- George Bataille

“What is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil.” -Friedrich Nietzsche,

So onto something positive in a way that one must go only in bravery: for years I thought love was just another word for hard work. I know that on the neurological level, its dopamine plus oxytocin plus luck. Yet this is hardly satisfying, for love is not necessary for the survival of the species.  Sex alone is enough for that. Still for reasons opaque to us not matter our framework, be it the evolutionary psyche or Hegelian spirals of history:  we think narratively, and thus love has to be understood in process. So what is the non-vague truth in love: not in an analytical sense, but in a process sense. How can one understand it. I suppose that’s why a precise definition is so hard outside, because processes are fluid. Definitions are not.

Forever, the process of love, in all of its manifestations it is not clear that love is merely a process. It is a sign without one single signified, but perhaps a myriad. It is not a empty sign, but an overfull one that we deal with in English. So love is not a relationship with a person–it is both noun and verb, felt and expressed, desired and consumed. A relationship is always in the foreground, but if it is the relationship itself that is love then I agree with Badiou: there can only be failure there. Love has patterns, but like the pattern one sees in the form of poetry, the patterns are known more by aberration than fidelity. It is the rupture of the daily life and the subsuming into another daily life that makes love have any meaning. It is the fact that dopamine makes your stomach sink and the oxytocin makes you mourn the lack of someone’s touch. In this there are a thousand mystifications that come sincerely.

So there is there such a thing as unconditional love? This would seem to be a category error as love is nothing by conditions. One may accuse me of equivocation, but the word itself equivocates. The concept moves and defies the definitions it holds one too. Love is not desire for desire implies lack. Love is not a relationship because a relationship is predicated on a totality of interaction between two people. Love is not the foolish trick to reproduce the species because there is no need for such a trick. No love can be coterminous merely with desire, for Lacan seems right when he asserts: “desire’s raison d’être is not to realize its goal, to find full satisfaction, but to reproduce itself as desire.” The circular loop that ends in frustration, not love.

“Beauty is the promise of happiness.” says Stendhal. Then perhaps love is the promise of beauty, a promise that is rarely explicit, and a promise that is often not kept.

Perhaps then the Greek categories: ἀγάπη (agápē), ἔρως (érōs), φιλία (philía), στοργή (storgē), and ξενία (xenía) are better as our mulled wine since the impulses of all of these are the truth of human relationships more than the relationships themselves. To be felt and to be done, to act and to know, and to subject and object to. The truth of love regardless is that it calls the lie to our taxonomy of emotions and actions, and in that process we see ourselves as we truly our: beings in motion defined as much by others as ourselves. For even our biology is produced by interaction as much as being.

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