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#5: Love and Politics

Between the Feasts of Love. A Dialogue

 


 

The girl goes beyond all borders
(From a street conversation, 15 April 2004 ).

 

A humid Saint-Petersburg morning. A room in disorder. Bottles of vodka, cigarette ashes, and spent condoms cover the floor. The clothes of Kolya and Yulia, who are sitting on the floor and smoking pensively, are also in disarray. Yulia is wearing Kolya’s shirt. Kolya is wearing Yulia’s towel..

Yulia: Who am I to love someone?

Kolya: I know how to love a child, in sending him or her out into the world. But how can I love a woman, whom I would rather eat?

Yulia: You know how to make her fall in love.

Kolya: But not how to love.

Yulia: Well, forget about love and make me a baby. I’ll be happy like my girlfriends.

Kolya: So we both have the right to love a child?

Yulia: Yes, I will have enough faith in myself. But it seems that this is because, in the child, I’m sending myself somewhere, like an envelope. To love from above, as God loves, means to hide in lofty heights. But how do you love an equal? If you are consumed by him, how can you set him free?

Kolya: (touching her hip tenderly) : Yulia, be a boy!

Yulia is insulted. She stands up and goes to the bathroom.

The doorbell rings. Kolya rapidly pulls on his pants and goes to open the door. Enter two friends: the foreigner Z. and his translator Magun. They have both just returned from an Alpine expedition, and have had time to get quite drunk somewhere.

Z. Hey Kolya. Where’s Yulia ? We were hoping for co-ed company…

Yulia (comes out of the bathroom, naked like freedom, gets red from shame, then covers herself with a blanket). Kolya, give me back my blanket! Oh, how great that some people of knowledge have come! Please tell me what you know immediately, I can’t wait to hear.

Z. It’s terrible what goes on. We saw it from the mountains. All people are equal but they don’t love each other.

Magun: They kill one another as one punishes naughty children.

Z.: They are scared of each other, like beasts.

Magun: They don’t love themselves either, but they are very afraid of themselves.

Kolya: We love, but we don’t know love. But we want to be equal!

Yulia: The equals know their model. I want to know as well! What would you advise?

Z.: Do you have beer, dear foreigners?

(There is no beer, but the neighbor, Barbara, always has some. So they have to invite her, too. Barbara comes with three beer cans. Her hair is painted green. They pour Z. some beer)

Z (pensively): Do I advise you to love your neighbor? Rather do I advise you to neighbor-flight and to furthest love!

Kolya: No, Yulia, there was nothing between me and Barbara, don’t believe him!

Z. : Higher than love to your neighbor is love to the furthest and future ones; higher still than love to men, is love to things and phantoms. You cannot endure it with yourselves, and do not love yourselves sufficiently: so you seek to mislead your neighbor into love, and would fain gild yourselves with his error.

Kolya: But this is an abstraction! You foreigners are always like this. Instead of Yulia, you’re offering me some Juggernaut to come!

Magun: No, that’s not what he meant. It’s just that nowadays, both the proximal and the distant disappear.

Z. No pathos of distance.

Magun: Let me tell now. You’ve already spoken. So, we are like frogs wallowing in the marshes. Is Iraq close or far from America ? It’s both, and neither at once. That’s why they make war and establish democracy at the same time.

But love is an imprint of the distant in the proximity, or in the interiority. At the moment when Kolya embraces Yulia, an abyss opens between them.

Modernity began with geographic love – the search for an El Dorado with dark-skinned maidens. And they found it, but annexed it immediately, having raped all the virgins. However, this El Dorado stands behind today’s globalization, like a paradise, desecrated and lost, a reserved proto-image of Earth. But love opens up an exotic land (utopia) in the everyday life of here-and-now, in the prose of the everyday, giving it a republican constitution. This is why love is a political passion. Love without annexations or contributions.

Yulia: You speak beautifully, Artemy. The ears of girls love beautiful words. But I am not going to let Kolya go to any El Dorado . He will only return with syphilis from over there.

Kolya: Here you go again. Doesn’t the lover have to give freedom to the one he or she loves?

Yulia: Yes, but I don’t have the strength to do that. I’m too weak to resist the force of gravitation…

Magun: Which was named love, by Empedocles.

Yulia: Please, tell me about Empedocles!

Z.: He was a pessimist, and he finished badly, this poet of blind love and blind hatred.

Magun: Yes, but his discovery was the inseparability of love and hate.

Z.: Are there ears for my definition of love?

Yulia: Yes, here (points at her ears).

Z.: Love, in its means, is war; its grounds are the mortal hates between the sexes.

Magun: It is possible that only war lets lovers to achieve mutual recognition and distant respect, which is lacking in the relation of states and citizens today. Love your enemies, as it is said… Carl Schmitt defined the enemy as the one who puts you into question. That means that this enemy is interested in you. And (Schmitt again) woe to the one who has no enemy! But, on the other hand, there can exist a blind hostility that does not know love….

Barbara: You and your foreigner, you speak as though you were reading! I read something like this in Nietzsche. He even proposed to beat women with a lash! But himself, he was afraid even to approach them! Same with you – just idle chatter. If you want to fuck me, for instance, then be polite and make compliments, and if you don’t, just fuck off. What’s the point of discussing? And you, Yulia, should not sit here quietly! If they don’t like something, let them write it down and send us by mail, preferably attached to flowers. I’ll find philosophers like this for you in the next-door bar, they will be nicer and with muscles.

Magun: Why are you so offensive, Barbara? We are talking here, quietly….

Barbara: Of course, what’s the point of worrying: you pretend you are tough guys, and the stupid chicks are happy to listen and obey. If you want a war of sexes, you can get it, but then I won’t promise you any kind of love!

Yulia: In fact – my dear sex warriors – do you actually love women? Or do you only know them from afar?

Z.: Fortunately, I do not want to let tear me apart: the true woman tears one apart when she loves!.. I know these loveable maenads!.. Oh, what a dangerous, crawling, subterraneous small predator! And so sweet one, at that!.. A small woman who seeks revenge, she can even knock down the destiny! – Woman is unspeakably more evil than man, and more intelligent; the good is in a woman already a kind of degeneracy …

Magun: It turns out that the woman is an eternal partisan, playing against the rules. Truly a personage of our time. Our conservative nostalgia about the time of the emperors who respected each other but still fought wars, is probably typically masculine.

Kolya: So what’s so bad about this? A graft of the masculine would not hurt to a woman… So far, feminism has only produced zombies of both sexes. It would be desirable to look into love’s eyes rather than to stare constantly into the eyes of death.

Barbara : Right, you want everyone to look into your eyes, to bring you beer and to guess what else you want. I’m fed up with these peacocks, I also want to be a boss.

Yulia: So far, guys, you know only how to scream into love’s ears.…

Z.: Yes, but you constantly seduce us by your interrogations – so it is not yet clear who is the boss! When we speak, we play with the world, by studying its lines of force. Philosophy is like foreplay, and it requires patience, of course. When we speak with an authoritative posture, we do not repress you with our power, we rather contaminate you with it. Repression comes from those who say: “no power over others”, “God forbid you show superiority over your neighbor or distance yourself from him or her”, “God forbid you become an arrogant male”, “God forbid you to be weak and feminine”. We do not follow the voice of the moral correctness that forbids us to offend others; we do not want to be content with what is and to hope for progress. We respond (as long as we can) one, feminine imperative, which always says “ encore ”, in all senses of this French word.

Magun: Speaking of the word meanings, we should also listen to our own voice, that is, the voice of the language. To find the force of love in the weakness it induces, is a hard task. But we have to look for it in the love for whoever : in Russian, love and whoever are words of one root ( liubov’ and liuboy ). Same in Latin: whoever is quodlibet. Love contains in itself an arbitrary moment (not of my or your arbitrary will, but a moment of the arbitrary), which lets us see in the beloved thing…

Barbara: Exactly, always a thing!

Magun: …its beloved and arbitrary essence. Love lets us liberate this arbitrary – the matter of possibility – in ourselves. This is love that allows us to see the flesh, that is the blind nameless stuff of the world. And therefore love is a revolutionary force. It does not know borders or definitions, it calls and liberates everyone equally, without distinction.

Yulia: Not everyone but those whom you love specifically.

Magun: Yes, but you love in your lover the whoever, you love whatever he or she is or does. And therefore you know in principle that you would be able to love anyone, the first comer, like a temple prostitute.

Yulia: A woman is weak… I could probably….

Kolya: Yes, but I hope that you don’t expend yourself on all of world’s oppressed.

Yulia: No, I really want all people to be free. But it was not me who put them into chains! I didn’t even give birth to them all! I don’t have enough force to liberate everyone! I am not Médecins sans frontières!

Z.: With woman, there is nothing impossible – so a Russian old lady, babushka, told me today.

Kolya: So what everyone knows that.

Dusk has fallen. The room is lit by the grey sobering light of love.

 

* Many statements of Z. are borrowed from various works by Friedrich Nietzsche: “Thus spake Zarathustra”, “Genealogy of Morals”, “Ecce Homo”, “The fight between science and wisdom”.Nietzsche liberated love from the usual frame of morality, sentimentality, and metaphysics. He was able to speak about it “beyond good and evil”, with a surprise – and the participants of this dialogue talk about it in the same way.

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