classic žiž

03/04/2014

There are four ways to disavow this impossible/real conjunction of love and sexual enjoyment: (1) the celebration of asexual ‘pure’ love, as if the sexual desire for the beloved demonstrates the love’s inauthenticity; (2) the opposite assertion of intense sex as ‘the only real thing’, which reduces love to a mere imaginary lure; (3) the division of these two aspects, their allocation to two different persons – one loves one’s gentle wife (or the idealized inaccessible Lady), while one has sex with a ‘vulgar’ mistress; or (4) their false immediate merger, in which intense sex is supposed to demonstrate that one ‘truly loves’ one’s partner, as if, in order to prove that our love is a true one, every sexual act has to be the proverbial ‘fuck of the century’. All these four stances are wrong, an escape from assuming the impossible/real conjunction of love and sex; a true love is enough in itself, it makes sex irrelevant – but precisely because ‘fundamentally, it doesn’t matter’, we can fully enjoy it without any superego pressure. And, unexpectedly, this brings us to Lenin.

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One Response to “classic žiž”

  1. When, in 1916, Lenin’s (at that point ex-) mistress, Inessa Armand, wrote to him that even a fleeting passion was more poetic and cleaner than kisses without love between a husband and wife, he replied:

    Kisses without love between vulgar spouses are filthy. I agree. These need to be contrasted … with what? … It would seem: kisses with love. But you contrast ‘a fleeting (why a fleeting?) passion (why not love?)’ – and it comes out logically as if kisses without love (fleeting) are contrasted to marital kisses
    without love … This is odd.

    Lenin’s reply is usually dismissed as proof of his petit-bourgeois sexual constraint, sustained by his bitter memory of their past affair; however, there is more to it. The insight is that the marital ‘kisses without love’ and the extramarital ‘fleeting affair’ are two sides of the same coin – they both shirk from combining the Real of an unconditional passionate attachment with the form of symbolic proclamation. Lenin is deeply right here, although not in the standard prudish sense of preferring ‘normal’ marriage out of love to illicit promiscuity. The underlying insight is that, against all appearances, love and sex are not only distinct, but ultimately incom- patible, that they operate at thoroughly different
    levels, like agape and eros: love is charitable, self-erasing, ashamed of itself, while sex is intense, self-assertive, possessing, inherently violent (or the opposite: possessive love versus gen- erous indulging in sexual pleasures). However, the true miracle occurs when (exceptionally) these two series momentarily coincide, when sex is ‘transubstantiated’ into an act of love – an achievement which is real/impossible in the precise Lacanian sense, and as such marked by an inherent rarity. Today, it is as if the knot of three levels which characterized traditional sexuality (reproduction, sexual pleasure, love) is gradually dissolving: reproduction is left to biogenetic procedures which are making sexual intercourse redundant; sex itself is turned into recreational fun; while love is reduced to the domain of ‘emotion- al fulfilment’. In such a situation, it is all the more precious to be reminded of those rare miraculous moments in which two of these three dimensions can still overlap, i.e., in which jouis-
    sance becomes a sign of love. It is only in these rare moments that sexual activity becomes an authentic Event.

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