Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Philosophy of Love

Love, says France's greatest living philosopher, "is not a contract between two narcissists. It's more than that. It's a construction that compels the participants to go beyond narcissism. In order that love lasts one has to reinvent oneself."

I agree with him. The love I am looking for is more than the animalistic coupling of bodies, and more than a dopamine rush that I could just as easily obtain from dark chocolate. What I want is an encounter - an encounter that changes both me and the other. In Badiou's philosophy, authentic love requires fidelity - not just sexual fidelity - but a fidelity to this encounter. Lovers should be as devoted to each other as rebel to her cause or as a scientist to her quest for knowledge. 

We in America are obsessed with sex, and obsessed with a story that begins with arousal and ends with climax. We believe that the climax is the goal, that climax is the thing we are striving for, and that after the climax, the story is over. But what if a True Love is structured in a different way. What if it begins with an Event, an event that cannot even in principle have been predicted, an Event that completely changes the lovers understanding of what is possible in the world, and what they must do in it? What if life after this event is not just the narcissistic rising of excitement towards a vapid bodily climax, but rather an ever deepening campaign of fidelity in which ones belief and devotion to the event is tested again and again. 

For me, love is a philosophical thing, because the search for love is a search for truth. And once found, in the violent revolution of the event, life is a devotion to this truth, a truth that before the event had not existed, and a truth that but for the resolve and fidelity of the participants, would flicker out, like a candle, and be lost forever.