When eros makes life impossible: A “Fluxus Eleatis” discourse

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In the surging swell,
In the ringing sound,
In the world-breath
In the waves of the All
To drown,
To sink, to drown –
Unconscious –
Supreme bliss –

Tristan and Isolde: Act III, Scene III

MM: Mathilde A jumps in the torrent created by the rain. Her body is recovered a few hours later.

Mrs. T: Mathilde B shoots Bernard first, and then she shoots herself. Both are dead instantly.

Mr. FFF: Diane runs screaming to her bed and she shoots herself.

von Grimmelshausen: Werther new that one of the three of them, Albert, Lotte and Werther himself, would have to die. He could not kill anyone but himself.

Mathilde A: (reads her suicide note) I am going before your desire dies. Then we’d be left with affection alone, and I know that won’t be enough. I’m going before I grow unhappy. I go bearing the taste of our embraces, your smell, your look, your kisses. I go with the memory of my loveliest years, the ones you gave me. I kiss you now so tenderly, I die of it.

Mathilde B: I needed to talk to him (Bernard). This is all I was thinking about when I was in the hospital (recovering from a nervous breakdown). But when the time came for me to go, and I put on my raincoat, without plan, withour hesitation, I got the handgun that Philippe (my husband) ket in his study and put it in my pocket. I kissed hm passionately. We rolled on the floor. And when he was on top of me, and when the last intercourse was over, I pulled the gun and I shot him. He did not even realize what was happening. I then turned the gun to my left temple and pulled the trigger. It was over in less than thirty seconds.

Diane: When I saw the blue key on my coffee table I knew that the deed was done. Camilla was no longer in this world. It had to be this way. She betrayed me. She was going to marry Adam. She was also fucking about. She was no good. She had to go. But I had to go as well.

Werther: And so it is the last time, the last time that I open these eyes…Lotte, it is a feeling unlike any other, and still it seems like an undetermined dream for one to say to himself: this is the last morning. … Lotte, I have no idea about the meaning of the word: the last! To die! what does it mean? I have seen many people dying; but humanity is so limited that it has no felling for the beginning and the end of its existence. .. All these are perishable, but there is no eternity that can erase the warmth of life that I tasted yesterday in your lips and I now feel inside me! She loves me! These arms have held her, these lips have touched hers trembling, this mouth has whispered something to hers. She is mine! You are mine! Yes, Lotte, for ever.

Mrs. T: Who is this von Grimmelshausen?

Mr. FFF:He is a German scholar from the Black Forest.

MM: How come he is here with us?

Mr. FFF: He is traveller. He goes to places. He meets people. That’s how.

Mrs. T: Have you seen what is inside the brown leather bag he is carrying with im like a treasure?

Mr. FFF: I recall you back to order!

Mrs. T: Ok, I was just curious.

Madame Guyon: The noonday of glory; a day no longer followed by night; a life that no longer fears death, even in death itself, because death has overcome death, and because whoever has suffered the first death will no longer feel the second.

Matthias Claudius: Man’s way of thinking can pass over from a point of the periphery to the opposite point, and back again to the previous point, if circumstances trace out for him the curved path to it. And these changes are not really anything great and interesting in man. But that remarkable, catholic, transcendental change, when the whole circle is irreparably torn up and all the laws of psychology become vain and empty, where the coat of skins is taken off, or at any rate turned inside out, and man’s eyes are opened, is such that everyone who is conscious to some extent of the breath in his nostrils, forsakes mother and father, if he can hear and experience something certain about it.

Horace: How is it that no one is satisfied with his own condition?

Filippo Ottonieri: The reason is that no condition is happy. The servvants, as well as the princes, the poor as well as the rich, the weak as well as the powerful would all be extremely well satisfied with their lot and would feel no envy for the others were they happy; for men are no more impossible to satisfy than any other species; but they can be content with happiness only. Now, as they are always unhappy, should we wonder if they are never satisfied?

Julia Kristeva: To be sure, analytic discourse does not, or at any rate does not always suffer from the apparent excesses of amorous language, which range from hypnotic fascination with the presumed ideal qualities of the partner to hysterical sentimental effusion to phobias of abandonment. Nevertheless, it is want of love that sends the subject into analysis, which proceeds by first restoring confidence in, and capacity for, love through the transference and then enabling the subject to distance himself or herself from the analyst. From being the subject of an amorous discourse during the years of my analysis (and, in the best of circumstances, beyond them), I discover  my potential for psychic renewal, intellectual innovation, and even physical change. This kind of experience seems to be the specific contribution of our modern civilization to the history of amorous discourse. The analytic situation is the only place explicitly provided for in the social contract in which we are allowed to talk about the wounds we have suffered and to search for possible new identities and new ways of talking about ourselves.

Arthur Schopenhauer: Selfishness is “eros” (in Greek ερως), sympathy or compassion is “love”  (in Greek αγαπη).

Friedrich Nietzsche: The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets through many a dark night.

Christiane Olivier: Is love, then, an impossibility? The couple is the fantasy of finding again, at last, a mother whom one has never yet met: for the woman, desiring; for the man, not stifling. It is the dream so well imagined by Verlaine: “I often have this strange, affecting dream of an unknown woman, who loves me and whom I love, and who each time is neither quite the same, nor quite other.” 

MM: Eros and Thanatos.

Mrs. T: Libido and Mortido.

Mr. FFF: Life instinct and death instinct.

MM: We are back in the field of the philosophy of the opposites!

Mrs. T: But are we? It appears to me that somehow Eros leads the actor to Thanatos! I see no opposites here, I see two complementary instincts.

Mr. FFF: I wish it were as simple as that. In my view Eros not only leads to Thanatos in the cases under consideration, it seems to me that Eros appeals to Thanatos to seal its eternal meaning. As if Eros does not attain its ultimate state unless it reaches Thanatos.

Jacinta: I was sixteen when, one night while I was sleeping, I had a dream. (Woe is me! And even when I was awake I relieved that dream.) I was going through a lovely forest and in the very depths of the forest, I met the most handsome man I had ever in my life seen. His face was shadowed by the edge of a fawn cape with silver hooks and catches. Attracted by his appearance, I stopped to gaze at him. Eager to see if his face looked as I imagined, I approached and boldly pulled aside his cape. The moment I did, he drew a dagger and plunged it into my heart so violently that the pain made me cry out, and all my maids came running in. As soon as I awoke from this dark dream, I lost sight of the fact that he had done me such injury, and I felt more deeply affected than you can imagine. His image remained etched in my memory. It did not fade away or disappear for ever so long. Noble Fabio, I yearned to find a man with exactly his appearance and bearing to be my husband. These thoughts so obsessed me that I kept imagining and reimagining that scene, and I would have conversations with him. Before you knew it, I was madly in love with a mystery man whom I didn’t know, but you must believe that if the god Narcissus was dark, then surely he was Narcissus.

Arthur Schopenhauer: They tell us that suicide is the greatest act of cowardice… that suicide is wrong; when it is quite obvious that there is nothing in the world to which every man has a more unassailable title than to his own life and person.

Herodotus: When life is so burdensome, death has become for man a sought-after refuge.

ΜΜ: Freud claimed the death instinct drives people to death so that they can have real peace, and only death can get rid of tension and struggles. This is the case of Werther.

Mrs. T: When people feel extreme joy, they want to die and hope time will stop at that moment, which is also the evidence of death instinct, the transformation of life instinct into death instinct. This is the case of Mathilde A.

Mr. FFF: The death instinct exists in almost everyone’s subconscious. It is an irresistible instinctive power in human beings’ consciousness. Many people may deny that there is a death instinct in their consciousness. Indeed, people’s life instinct is very strong. However, if they examine their flashes of idea in their consciousness, they can find that just like death instinct, their desire for death is sometimes also very strong.

Jacinta: Because of this obsession I could neither eat nor sleep. My face lost its color and I experienced the most profound melancholy of my life. Everyone noticed the changes in me. Who, Fabio, ever heard of anyone loving a mere shadow? They may tell tales about people who’ve loved monsters and other incredible things, but at least what they loved had form! I sympathized with Pygmalion who loved the statue that ultimately Jupiter brought to life for him, and with the youth from Athens, and with the lovers who loved a tree or a dolphin. But what I loved was a mere fantasy, a shadow. What would people think of that? Nobody would believe me and, if they did, they’d think I’d lost my mind. But I give you my word of honor as a noblewoman, that not in this or in anything else I’ll tell you, do I add a single word that isn’t the truth. You can imagine that I talked to myself. I reproved myself, and, to free myself from my obsessive passion, I looked very carefully at all the elegant young men who lived in my city and tried to grow fond of one of them. Everything I did simply made me love my phantom more, and nowhere could I find his equal. My love grew and grew so great that I even composed poetry to my beloved ghost.

Julia Kristeva: Loss of the erotic object (unfaithfulness or desertion by the lover or husband, divorce, etc) is felt by the woman as an assault on her genitality and, from that point of view, amounts to castration. At once, such a castration starts resonating with the threat of destruction of the body’s integrity, the body image, and the entire psychic system as well. As a result, feminine castration, rather than being diseroticized, is concealed by narcissistic anguish, which masters and protects eroticism as a shameful secret.

MM: I love you so much I want to kill myself.

Mrs. T: I love you so much I want to kill you.

Mr. FFF: I love you so much I want to kill myself, but I will kill you first, before you kill me.

Albert Camus: “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide.  Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.  All the rest – whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories – comes afterwards.  These are games; one must first answer [the questions of suicide].”

Arthur Schopenhauer: To those in whom the will has turned and denied itself, this very real world of ours, with its suns and galaxies, is – nothing.

MM: Driven to suicide by eros is one thing, killing your lover and then killing yourself is another.

Mrs. T: It may not be premedidated, but evolutionary. You start by wanting to exterminate the cause of your living hell, your lover, and you do. And then, after you have done it, you figure out that the road has now opened for your own departure from this world as well.

Mr. FFF: This theory may apply to both Diane and Mathilde B. I would like to note though, that Time could be the differentiator. In Mathilde B’s case, she kills herself imeediately after she has killed Bernard. Whereas Diane kills herself after she realizes that the “contract” on Camille’s life has been successfully executed.

Participants

Albert Camus, French philosopher

Matthias Claudius, German poet

Diane Selwyn, protagonist in David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive”

von Grimmelshausen, a German nobleman and writer

Madame Guyon, French mystic

Mr. FFF, wanderer

Herodotus, Greek historian

Horace, Roman poet

Jacinta, character in Maria de Zayas’ “The enchantements of love”

Julia Kristeva, French-Bulgarian psychoanalyst

Mathilde A, the hairdresser in Patrice Leconte’s “The Hairdresser’s Husband”

Mathilde B, the woman next door, in Francois Truffaut’s “The Woman next Door”

MM, partner

Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher

Christiane Olivier, French psychoanalyst

Filippo Ottonieri, a very thin disguise for Giacomo Leopardi himself

Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher

Mrs. T, unknown ethinicity, gourmant

Werther, a fictional character created by Goethe

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