Eternity and a Day ~ Sonsuzluk ve Bir Gün

Eternity and a Day is a film directed by Theo Angelopoulos back in 1998… It is a story of love, regret, memory, light and darkness, hope and despair and ultimately, life and death. It is about death and new life, about a dying man who gives his life to save a child all others regard as useless, about captivity and redemption, about hope in tomorrow, faith in the future, and the nature of time and eternity…

At the end of the film, the dying Alexandre imagines he has met Anna once again, and he asks her: “One day I had asked you Anna, how long does the future last?” Anna answers: “An eternity and a day Alexandre, an eternity and a day…” She then disappears, and Alexandre is left alone, facing the sea and his eventual demise…

We Love the One Who Responds to Our Question: “Who Am I?” ~ Jacques-Alain Miller


Hanna Waar – Does psychoanalysis teach us something about love?

Jacques-Alain Miller – A great deal, because it’s an experience whose mainspring is love. It’s a question of that automatic and more often than not unconscious love that the analysand brings to the analyst, and which is called transference. It’s a contrived love, but made of the same stuff as true love. It sheds light on its mechanism: love is addressed to the one you think knows your true truth. But love allows you to think this truth will be likeable, agreeable, when in fact it’s rather hard to bear.

H. W. – So, what is it to really love?

J.-A. M. – To really love someone is to believe that by loving them you’ll get to a truth about yourself. We love the one that harbours the response, or a response, to our question: ‘Who am I?’
H. W. – Why do some people know how to love and not others?

J.-A. M. – Some people know how to provoke love in the other person, serial lovers as it were, men and women alike. They know what buttons to push to get loved. But they don’t necessarily love, rather they play cat and mouse with their prey. To love, you have to admit your lack, and recognise that you need the other, that you miss him or her. Those that think they’re complete on their own, or want to be, don’t know how to love. And sometimes, they ascertain this painfully. They manipulate, pull strings, but of love they know neither the risk nor the delights.

H. W. – ‘Complete on their own’: only a man could think that…

J.-A. M. – Well spotted! Lacan used to say, ‘To love is to give what you haven’t got.’ Which means: to love is to recognize your lack and give it to the other, place it in the other. It’s not giving what you possess, goods and presents, it’s giving something else that you don’t possess, which goes beyond you. To do that you have to assume your lack, your ‘castration’ as Freud used to say. And that is essentially feminine. One only really loves from a feminine position. Loving feminises. That’s why love is always a bit comical in a man. But if he lets himself get intimidated by ridicule, then in actual fact he’s not very sure of his virility.

H. W. – Is loving more difficult for men then?

J.-A. M. – Oh yes! Even a man in love has flashes of pride, bursts of aggressiveness against the object of his love, because this love puts him in a position of incompleteness, of dependence. That’s why he can desire women he doesn’t love, so as to get back to the virile position he suspends when he loves. Freud called this principle the ‘debasement of love life’ in men: the split between love and sexual desire.

H. W. – And in women?

J.-A. M. – It’s less common. In most cases, there’s a doubling-up of the male partner. On one hand, he’s the man that gives them jouissance and whom they desire, but he’s also the man of love, who’s feminised, necessarily castrated. Only it’s not anatomy that’s in the driving seat: there are some women who adopt a male position. There are more and more of them. One man for love, at home; and other men for jouissance, met on the net, in the street, or on a train.

H. W. – Why ‘more and more’?

J.-A. M. – Socio-cultural stereotypes of womanliness and virility are in the process of radical transformation. Men are being invited to open up to their emotions, to love and feminise themselves; women on the contrary are undergoing a certain ‘push to masculinisation’: in the name of legal equality they’re being driven to keep saying ‘me too.’ At the same time, homosexuals are claiming the same rights and symbols as heteros, like marriage and filiation. Hence a major instability in the roles, a widespread fluidity in the theatre of love, that contrasts with the fixity of yesteryear. Love is becoming ‘liquid’, as noted by the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman. Everyone is being led to invent their own ‘lifestyle’, to assume their mode ofjouissance and mode of loving. Traditional scenarios are slowly becoming obsolete. Social pressure to conform hasn’t disappeared, but it’s on the wane.

H. W. – ‘Love is always reciprocal’ said Lacan. Is this still true in the current context? What does that mean?

J.-A. M. – This sentence gets repeated over and over without being understood, or it gets understood the wrong way round. It doesn’t mean that it’s enough to love someone for him to love you back. That would be absurd. It means: ‘If I love you, it’s because you’re loveable. I’m the one that loves, but you’re also mixed up in this, because there’s something in you that makes me love you. It’s reciprocal because there’s a to and fro: the love I have for you is the return effect of the cause of love that you are for me. So, you’re implicated. My love for you isn’t just my affair, it’s yours too. My love says something about you that maybe you yourself don’t know.’ This doesn’t guarantee in the least that the love of one will be responded to by the love of the other: when that happens it’s always of the order of a miracle, it’s not calculable in advance.

H. W. – We don’t find him or her by chance. Why that guy? Why that girl?

J.-A. M. – There’s what Freud called Liebesbedingung, the condition for love, the cause of desire. It’s a particular trait – or a set of traits – that have a decisive function in a person for the choice of the loved one. This totally escapes the neurosciences, because it’s unique to each person, it’s down to their singular, intimate history. Traits which are sometimes minute are at play. For instance, Freud singled out in one of his patients a cause of desire that was a shine on a woman’s nose!

H. W. – It’s hard to believe in a love founded on these trifles!

J.-A. M. – The reality of the unconscious outstrips fiction. You can’t imagine how much in human life is founded, especially where love is concerned, on little things, on pinheads, on ‘divine details’. It’s true that’s it’s above all in men that you find causes of desire like that, which are like fetishes whose presence is indispensable to spark off the love process. Tiny particularities, reminiscent of the father, the mother, a brother, a sister, someone from childhood, also play their role in women’s choice of love object. But the feminine form of love is more readily erotomaniac than fetishist: they want to be loved, and the interest, the love that’s shown them, or that they suppose in the other person, is often sine qua non for triggering their love, or at least their consent. This phenomenon lies at the base of the practice of men chatting women up.
H. W. – Do you not attribute any role to fantasies?

J.-A. M. – In women, fantasies, whether conscious or unconscious, are decisive for the position of jouissance more than for the choice of love object. And it’s the opposite for men. For example, it may happen that a woman can only achievejouissance – orgasm, let’s say – on condition that she imagines herself, during intercourse itself, being beaten, raped, or imagines that she’s another woman, or even that she’s elsewhere, absent.

H. W. – And the male fantasy?

J.-A. M. – It’s very much in evidence in love at first sight. The classic example, commented on by Lacan, is in Goethe’s novel, the sudden passion of young Werther for Charlotte, at the moment he sees her for the first time, feeding the rabble of kids around her. Here it’s the woman’s maternal quality that sparks off love. Another example, taken from my practice, is the following: a boss in his fifties is seeing applicants for a secretarial post; a young woman of twenty comes in; straight away he declares his love. He wonders what got hold of him and goes into analysis. There, he uncovers the trigger: in her he met traits that reminded him of what he had been at the age of twenty, when he went for his first job interview. In a way, he’d fallen in love with himself. In these two examples we see the two sides of love distinguished by Freud: either you love the person who protects, in this case the mother, or you love a narcissistic image of yourself.

H. W. – It sounds like we’re puppets!

J.-A. M. – No, between any man and any woman, nothing is written in advance, there’s no compass, no pre-established relationship. Their encounter isn’t programmed like it is between the spermatozoon and the ovum; it’s got nothing to do with our genes either. Men and women speak, they live in a world of discourse, that’s what’s decisive. The modalities of love are extremely sensitive to the surrounding culture. Each civilisation stands out for the way it structures the relation between the sexes. Now, it so happens that in the West, in our societies which are liberal, market and juridical, the ‘multiple’ is well on the way to dethroning the ‘one’. The ideal model of ‘great lifelong love’ is slowly losing ground faced with speed dating, speed loving, and a whole flotilla of alternative, successive, even simultaneous amorous scenarios.

H. W. – And love in the long term? In eternity?

J.-A. M. – Balzac said, ‘Any passion that isn’t eternal is hideous.’ But can the bond hold out for life within the register of passion? The more a man devotes himself to just one woman, the more she tends to take on a maternal signification for him: more sublime and untouchable than loved. Married homosexuals develop this cult of the woman best: Aragon sings his love for Elsa; as soon as she dies, it’s hello boys! And when a woman clings on to one man, she castrates him. So, the path is narrow. The best destiny of conjugal love is friendship, that’s essentially what Aristotle said.

H. W. – The problem is that men say they don’t understand what women want; and women, what men expect of them…

J.-A. M. – Yes. What objects to the Aristotelian solution is the fact that dialogue from one sex to the other is impossible, as Lacan said with a sigh. People in love are in fact condemned to go on learning the other’s language indefinitely, groping around, seeking out the keys – keys that are always revocable. Love is a labyrinth of misunderstandings whose way out doesn’t exist.


Translated by from the French by Adrian Price for NLS Messager


Jacques-Alain Miller (born 14 February 1944 Chateauroux,France) is a psychoanalyst and writer. He is one of the founder members of the École de la Cause freudienne and the World Association of Psychoanalysis which he presided from 1992 to 2002. He is the sole editor of the books of the Seminar of Jacques Lacan.

In Praise of Love ~ Alain Badiou (2012)

Badiou remarks:

I think many people still cling to a romantic conception of love that in a way absorbs love in the encounter. Love is simultaneously ignited, consummated and consumed in the meeting in a magical moment outside the world as it really is. Something happens that is in the nature of a miracle, an existential intensity, an encounter leading to meltdown. (23)

When I lean on the shoulder of the woman I love, and can see, let’s say, the peace of twilight over a mountain landscape, gold-green fields, the shadow of trees, black-nosed sheep motionless behind hedges and the sun about to disappear behind craggy peaks, and know – not from the expression on her face, but from within the world as it is – that the woman I love is seeing the same world, and that this convergence is part of the world and that love constitutes precisely, at that very moment, the paradox of an identical difference, then love exists, and promises to continue to exist. The fact is she and I are now incorporated into this unique Subject, the Subject of love that views the panorama of the world through the prism of our difference, so this world can be conceived, be born, and not simply represent what fills my own individual gaze. Love is always the possibility of being present at the birth of the world. The birth of a child, if born from within love, is yet another example of this possibility. (26)

Read More from In Praise of Love

Refracted input

In Praise Of LoveIn Praise Of Love by Alain Badiou

My rating: ***

Badiou, Alain with Truong, Nicolas (2012) In Praise Of Love. Trans. Peter Bush, London: Serpent’s Tail

I approached this short essay interview about the notion of love (as it is enacted between lovers) with caution. I was not expecting a 75 year old male philosopher to have much to say that would resonate from a female point of view. There was however slightly more on the table than I expected and some of the discussion provided potential food for thought which crossed gender lines.

I was particularly interested by Badiou’s comments criticising the portrayal of love as something that exists in a moment outside of time. This is a view that pervades romantic literature. It is a love that cannot be enacted in the real world or survive through time. It is also reductive, fusing the difference of two…

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Expulsion of the Negative and Affirmation of Life are Mutually Exclusive

pıctosophızıng ƒar ƒrom the chaoıds . .

Image by jef safi via Flickr

To valorize negative sentiments or sad passions—that is the mystification on which nihilism bases its power. (Lucretius, then Spinoza, already wrote decisive passages on this subject. Before Nietzsche, they conceived philosophy as the power to affirm, as the practical struggle against mystifications, as the expulsion of the negative.)[12]

Purgatory, purification, extraction of the positive, expulsion of the negative, projection, introjection… Throughout his discursive life Deleuze conceived of purification of the self as the goal of literature. He believed that through an exposition of the evil within one was healing the society. But this theory can only produce otherness as negativity and that is almost exactly the opposite of what affirmative critique ought to be. Nietzsche’s project of “the expulsion of the negative” is a recurrent theme in Deleuze’s writings. Like Nietzsche he thought that it is only through regression that one could be purified and get outside the confines of the Cartesian cogito. Deleuze’s attempts at escaping from the Cartesian dualism, however, can only cause an interruption of the splitting process and slides towards overcoming the split to attain oneness. Giving a voice to the other creates the conditions of impossibility for the other’s finding his/her own voice.

It is at this mobile and precise point, where all events gather together in one that transmutation happens: this is the point at which death turns against death; where dying is the negation of death, and the impersonality of dying no longer indicates only the moment when I disappear outside of myself, but rather the moment when death loses itself in itself, and also the figure which the most singular life takes on in order to substitute itself for me.[13]

With Deleuze it is always one dies rather than I die, or as the Cynic saying goes, “when there is death I am not, when I am there is no death.” Instead of accepting the state of being wounded as a perpetually renewed actuality, instead of affirming death within life, the other within the self, Deleuze climbs over the walls of his wound, and looking down on the others, he loses the ground beneath his feet, and eventually falls into the split he was trying to get rid of.

A wound is incarnated or actualised in a state of things or of life: but it is itself pure virtuality on the plane of immanence that leads us into a life. My wound existed before me: not a transcendence of the wound in a higher actuality, but its immanence as a virtuality always within a milieu (plane or field).[14] 

Affirming the mutual inclusiveness of introversion and intersubjectivity means preferring an a-sociality, what Blanchot calls “being in a non-relation,” to the symbolic order. Blanchot’s attitude is exactly the opposite of the symbolic market society that dissolves the most fundamental questions of being human in a pot of common sense. The subject of the market society is continually in pursuit of increased strength and self-confidence. And for that reason governed by what Nietzsche called the herd instinct, the will to nothingness, this subject becomes a reactive and adaptive subject. The symbolic order loses the ground beneath itself when and if the majority starts to see living with the thought of death not only as a natural necessity, but also as something to be affirmed.

Death has an extreme and definite relation to me and my body and is grounded in me, but it also has no relation to me at all—it is incorporeal and infinitive, impersonal, grounded only in itself. On one side, there is the part of the event which is realized and accomplished; on the other, there is that “part of the event which cannot realize its accomplishment. [15]

francis bacon

Reference Matter

[1] Gilles Deleuze, Pure Immanence: A Life, trans. Anne Boyman (New York: Zone Books, 2001), 84

[2] Gilles Deleuze, The Logic of Sense, trans. Mark Lester (London: Athlone, 1990), 153

[3] Deleuze,  Pure Immanence: A Life, 31-2

[4] Deleuze, Pure Immanence, 151-152

Slavoj Zizek – Fear Thy Neighbor as Thyself (Video)

Hosted by The Institute for Human Sciences at Boston University on November 26, 2007, in this lecture entitled “Fear Thy Neighbor as Thyself: Antinomies of Tolerant Reason” Slavoj Zizek addresses perception, identity, and the “other”.

Slavoj Zizek – Love Beyond Law

“Love beyond Law” involves a “feminine” sublimation of drives into love…[love] is here no longer merely a narcissistic (mis)recognition to be opposed to desire as the subject’s ‘truth’ but a unique case of direct asexual sublimation (integration into the order of the signifier) of drives, of their jouissance, in the guise of the asexual Thing (music, religion, etc.) experienced in the ecstatic surrender. What one should bear in mind apropos of this love beyond Law, this direct asexual sublimation of drive, is that it is inherently nonsensical, beyond meaning: meaning can only take place within the (symbolic) Law; the moment we trespass the domain of Law, meaning changes into enjoy-meant, jouis-sense.
Insofar as, according to Lacan, at the conclusion of psychoanalytic treatment, the subject assumes the drive beyond fantasy and beyond (the Law of) desire, this problematic also compels us to confront the question of the conclusion of treatment in all its urgency. If we discard the discredited standard formulas (“reintegration into the symbolic space”, etc.), only two options remain open: desire or drive. That is to say, either we conceive the conclusion of treatment as the assertion of the subject’s radical openness to the enigma of the Other’s desire no longer veiled by fantasmatic formations, or we risk the step beyond desire itself and adopt the position of the saint who is no longer bothered by the Other’s desire as its decentred cause. In the case of the saint, the subject, in an unheard-of way, “causes itself”, becomes its own cause. Its cause is no longer decentred, i.e., the enigma of the Other’s desire no longer has any hold over it. How are we to understand this strange reversal? In principle, things are clear enough: by way of positing itself as its own cause, the subject fully assumes the fact that the object-cause of its desire is not a cause that precedes its effects but is retroactively posited by the network of its effects: an event is never simply in itself traumatic, it only becomes a trauma retroactively, by being ‘secreted’ from the subject’s symbolic space as its inassimilable point of reference. In this precise sense, the subject “causes itself” by way of retroactively positing that X which acts as the object-cause of its desire. This loop is constitutive of the subject. That is, an entity that does not ’cause itself’ is precisely not a subject but an object. However, one should avoid conceiving this assumption as a kind of symbolic integration of the decentred Real, whereby the subject ‘symbolizes’, assumes as an act of its free choice, the imposed trauma of the contingent encounter with the Real. One should always bear in mind that the status of the subject as such is hysterical: the subject ‘is’ only insofar as it confronts the enigma of Che vuoi? – “What do you want?” – insofar as the Other’s desire remains impenetrable, insofar as the subject doesn’t know what kind of object it is for the Other. Suspending this decentring of the cause is thus strictly equivalent to what Lacan called “subjective destitution”, the de- hystericization by means of which the subject loses its status as subject.
The most elementary matrix of fantasy, of its temporal loop, is that of the “impossible” gaze by means of which the subject is present at the act of his/her own conception. What is at stake in it is the enigma of the Other’s desire: by means of the fantasy-formation, the subject provides an answer to the question, ‘What am I for my parents, for their desire?’ and thus endeavours to arrive at the ‘deeper meaning’ of his or her existence, to discern the Fate involved in it. The reassuring lesson of fantasy is that “I was brought about with a special purpose”. Consequently, when, at the end of psychoanalytic treatment, I “traverse my fundamental fantasy”, the point of it is not that, instead of being bothered by the enigma of the Other’s desire, of what I am for the others, I “subjectivize” my fate in the sense of its symbolization, of recognizing myself in a symbolic network or narrative for which I am fully responsible, but rather that I fully assume the uttermost contingency of my being. The subject becomes ’cause of itself’ in the sense of no longer looking for a guarantee of his or her existence in another’s desire.
Another way to put it is to say that the “subjective destitution” changes the register from desire to drive. Desire is historical and subjectivized, always and by definition unsatisfied, metonymical, shifting from one object to another, since I do not actually desire what I want. What I actually desire is to sustain desire itself, to postpone the dreaded moment of its satisfaction. Drive, on the other hand, involves a kind of inert satisfaction which always finds its way. Drive is non-subjectivized (“acephalic”); perhaps its paradigmatic expressions are the repulsive private rituals (sniffing one’s own sweat, sticking one’s finger into one’s nose, etc.) that bring us intense satisfaction without our being aware of it-or, insofar as we are aware of it, without our being able to do anything to prevent it.
In Andersen’s fairy tale The Red Shoes, an impoverished young woman puts on a pair of magical shoes and almost dies when her feet won’t stop dancing. She is only saved when an executioner cuts off her feet with his axe. Her still-shod feet dance on, whereas she is given wooden feet and finds peace in religion. These shoes stand for drive at its purest: an ‘undead’ partial object that functions as a kind of impersonal willing: ‘it wants’, it persists in its repetitive movement (of dancing), it follows its path and exacts its satisfaction at any price, irrespective of the subject’s well-being. This drive is that which is ‘in the subject more than herself’: although the subject cannot ever ‘subjectivize’ it, assume it as ‘her own’ by way of saying ‘It is I who want to do this!’ it nonetheless operates in her very kernel. Lacan’s wager is that it is possible to sublimate this dull satisfaction. This is what, ultimately, art and religion are about.
– Slavoj Zizek