“What would be my spontaneous attitude towards the universe? It’s a very dark one. The first thesis would have been, a kind of total vanity; there is nothing, basically.
I mean it quite literally.
Ultimately, there are just some fragments, some vanishing things. If you look at the universe, it’s one big void. But then how do things emerge? Here I feel a kind of spontaneous affinity to quantum physics, where, you know, the idea there is that the universe is a void, but a kind of a positively charged void. And then, particular things appear when the balance of the void is disturbed. And I like this idea of spontaneity very much. That, the fact that it’s not just nothing - things are out there; it means something went terribly wrong. That, what we call creation is a kind of a cosmic imbalance, cosmic catastrophe, that things exist by mistake. And I’m even ready to go to the end and to claim that the only way to counteract it is to assume the mistake and go to the end. And we have a name for this: it’s called Love.
Isn’t love precisely this kind of cosmic imbalance? I was always disgusted with this notion of ‘I love the world, universal love’ - I don’t like the world. I basically am somewhere in between “I hate the world”, and I’m indifferent towards it. But the whole of reality, it’s just it, it’s stupid - it is out there - I don’t care about it.
Love for me is an extremely violent act. Love is not “I love you all”. Love means “I pick out something”, and I - you know, it’s again this structure of imbalance. Even if this something is just a small detail, a fragile individual, person, I say, I love you more than anything else.
In this quite formal sense, love is evil”.
The above is from the documentary “Zizek”. The specific clip is available if you search for Zizek on Love in Youtube.
Love, then, is a violence, and it has the same feeling as violence. It is immediate, and in that immediacy, you can never create the proper distance to differentiate the truth from the fiction. This comes only later.
Love is a violence, and a silence, but only if it is of the truth.
This attitude towards love, spontaneously spoken, is telling of the problematic and elusive nature of love as a topic of theorization. This has been the case for Philosophers for a long time. The great big beardy grandfather of philosophy, Socrates, tells us in the Symposium that “the only thing I say I know, is the art of love”. This rather grandiose claim should be seen as a sidelong hint that, at least to the greeks, the urge to love (erôs) and the urge to philosophize (erôtan, to ask questions) have an etymologic connection. This connection is explicitly exploited in the Cratylus. His death, then, shows us that Socrates’ knowledge of love was then as limited as that of any of us when he conveys in the Apology that he knows himself to be wise “in neither a great nor a small way”.
Thus, the urge to understand the elusive nature of being (philosophy) shares the violent potentialities of Love.
On this, Derrida said : “I have really nothing to say about love. At least pose a question. I can’t examine ‘love’ just like that”. After some time spent, apparently in thought, he continues to say “I have an empty head on love in general”. Unsurprising, perhaps. Another pause, and he says “Do I love you, or do I love something about you; do I love someone because of the absolute singularity that they are, I love you because you are you, Or do I love your qualities, your beauty, your intelligence?” A better, but in the end, inadequate point. Ultimately, and after a great many words, the conclusion was : “Fidelity is threatened by the difference between the who and the what”. Jacques Derrida (in interview).
This is important: the difference between the who and the what. Love is an indelible part of the human experience, and as such it is as difficult to put into words as that experience itself. However, in general terms, surely we could admit that throughout that experience, we are caught somewhere on a continuum, both ends equally unattainable to us.
To use again Zizek’s analogy of the universe from the perspective of quantum physics is instructive. In its beginning, it is a violence so compelling so as to conjure up all of creation. In its end, it the silence of stars spinning endlessly beyond each others reach. Where we exist, is what astronomers call the goldilocks zone - “not too hot, not too cold, just right”. We exist in between the ambivalence of the who, the absolute moment of violent creation, and the what, the silence of dear stars. This is where things are still free to form and un-form.
The whole process of creation is coextensive with human thought.
Love, like the universe, is particular, not universal.
The universe, the entirety of existence, is love.