Slavoj Žižek: Love as Subversive Politics

” I think today, more and more, love is emerging as something dangerous and subversive. Think about how you are addressed in your everyday life by society, what society demands of you. It’s basically a kind of slightly spiritual, pseudo-Buddhist hedonism. Ideology is telling you: “be faithful to yourself”, “realize your true potential”, “experiment with your life”, “try all different options”, “don’t fixate yourself on a certain stable identity”, “life is dynamic, fluid” and so on, and so on. And I claim that within this economy, not only is stable love/passionate love emerging as an obstacle to your “authentic development”, but even the crucial dimension of love is gradually disappearing. What is love? As Alain Badiou, our good friend, put it in his wonderful book In Praise of Love, there is always something traumatic/extremely violent in love. Love is a permanent emergency state. You fall in love. And it’s crucial [to know] that in English and in French we use this expression; you “fall” in love. You lose control. I claim that love, the experience of passionate love, is the most elementary metaphysical experience, it’s a platonic experience. In the sense of, you lead your easy, daily life, you meet [up with] friends, go to parties and whatever, everything is normal, maybe here and there a one-night stand, and then you passionately fall in love, [and] everything is ruined. The entire balance of your life is lost. Everything is subordinated to this one person. I almost cannot imagine in normal daily life, outside war and so on, a more violent experience than that of love. And I think [this is] which is why all the “advisers” that we [supposedly] need today are trying precisely to domesticate or erase this excess of love. It’s as if love is too poisonous and then they, [i.e.] all the marriage and dating agencies, tell you that the trick is how to find yourself in love without falling in love. This idea came to me when on one of my Transatlantic flights I read one of those stupid airline journals and there was a text in there, in big letters, claiming: “We will enable you to find yourself in love, without the fall”, without this dangerous exposure. And I think this fits perfectly to our daily narcissistic metaphysics. You know the old story that I repeat all the time; we want coffee without caffeine, we want beer without alcohol, and we want love without its dangerous moment, where you get lost.” – Slavoj Žižek


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