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The Pain With No Name (The Difficulty)



In the movie Little Manhattan, a mother consoles her crying ten-year old son, Gabe, who, after falling in love for the first time--and for a while, finds himself losing out in the end. Exasperated and in anguish, Gabe provokes his fate by asking out loud, "Why did she have to walk into my life?" Why have a taste of what blissfully calls out, and intensifies, a desire, up till then unknown, only to leave yourself longing for it in the trail of its retreat and eventual absence? Why say hello when with it comes the eventual goodbye? Why love if only to lose it and be lost by its loss?

The mother, with good intention, answers her son thus:
Maybe not everything is supposed to last forever. Certain things are like sky writing, like a really beautiful thing, which only lasts for a few moments.

To this, Gabe replied, "Love sucks."

And love cannot but "suck." For when I profess to love the other, I expose myself to the rule of his or her alterity--without remainder, as well as without a guarantee that it be reciprocated. Unaware, I find myself seen by a gaze which crosses my own (and my own intentions and intuitions), thereby annulling my own gaze, making it impossible for me to see, while revealing myself to be seen. By loving, I transgress the order of economy and justice, where I do not love in exchange for another love and at a price, or, where I do not love in order to be awarded of what I see as my right and what I justly deserve; in love, I risk a stake--my own, my all, my self--in a deal which is no deal as it does not deal for a win, a gain or even a mere stand--it deals so as to give, and more, I award myself to an other whether or not he or she by right and justice deserves it or not. Or better: love sucks because love knows no other love but that which gives the gift of self, which, even if perfectly given, can just as easily be perfectly ignored or refused. Finally, and thus definitively: it promises eternity and gives infinitely to an other that cannot but fail under the weight of that gift if only because he or she is finite and limited.

Thus, knowing only that I could only give what I have (my love), I can never be assured by anything else other than the certainty that my decision to love provokes and entails. In loving, I am only certain of my love, and this certainty remains only when I continue to do it, that is, continually make love. Love then is its own cause and reason, its own ratio sui; it feeds itself by its decision to love, and grows the more I continue to love. I cannot have access to the other for an assurance or certainty; I only know what I know and what I know only comes from the certainty of my decision. I can never have recourse to the other as I have of the objects of the world; I can only reach the other by him or her remaining unreachable, forever vanishing in my advance, always slipping through my hands. This is why I can love infinitely--and no other love is expected from me--because my love can only pour itself to an other only in the measure which is able to measure up to what it will fulfill, that is, to what can never be filled in the other's unfathomable alterity, thus the necessity that I match it, or attempt to at my best, by loving infinitely as well. Thus, with my decision to love her infinitely and without remainder, I try to approach the beloved with a love that infinitely tries to reach the other without ever successfully touching her; that this love to be able to reach her matters little here, for the aim of my loving gaze finds itself drowned in the void of the face of the invisible other, but it is also such emptiness which allows me forever to approach the beloved with my love, as one approaches the horizon, seeing it but not seeing any thing, like loving her without ever loving enough.


To be continued.

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