IN PRAISE !

" LOVE
ALAIN BADIOU
vilh NicoIas Truong
Trans|aic! |q Pcicr Busn
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'As we know, love needs re-inventing.”
Arlhur Rimbaud
A scascn in nc||, Ha||ucinaiicns 1
CONTENT5
Inlroduclion
I Love Under Threal
II IhiIoso¡hers and Love
III The Conslruclion of Love
IV The Trulh of Love
V Love and IoIilics
VI Love and Arl
In ConcIusion
INTRODUCTION
A ¡hiIoso¡her musl never forgel lhe counlIess
silualions in Iife vhen he is no differenl from
anyone eIse. If he does, lhealricaI lradilion,
¡arlicuIarIy comedy, viII rudeIy remind him of
lhal facl. There is, afler aII, a slock slage characler,
lhe ¡hiIoso¡her in Iove, vhose Sloic visdom and
veII-rehearsed dislrusl of ¡assion eva¡orale in
lheir enlirely lhe momenl a dazzIingIy beaulifuI
voman svee¡s inlo lhe room and bIovs him
avay forever.
I reaIised lhis a Iong lime ago. I have suggesled
lhal a ¡hiIoso¡her (and lhis neulraI noun
naluraIIy encom¡asses bolh maIe and femaIe
ALAI N BADI OU
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2
varielies) musl be an accom¡Iished scienlisl, an
amaleur ¡oel and a ¡oIilicaI aclivisl, bul aIso
has lo acce¡l lhal lhe reaIm of lhoughl is never
seaIed off from lhe vioIenl onsIaughls of Iove.
IhiIoso¡hy requires ils ¡raclilioners of eilher
gender lo assume lhe roIes of savanl, arlisl,
aclivisl and Iover. I have caIIed lhem lhe four
ccn!iiicns of ¡hiIoso¡hy.
Thal vas vhy I immedialeIy agreed vhen
NicoIas Truong inviled me lo |oin him in conver-
salion in lhe ´Thealre of Ideas¨ series he organises
al lhe Avignon IeslivaI. Il Iooked as if il vouId be
a deIicious cocklaiI of lhealre, crovds, conversa-
lion, Iove and ¡hiIoso¡hy. ßesides, il vas going lo
be heId on 14 }uIy (2008) and I vas exciled by lhe
idea of ceIebraling Iove, a cosmo¡oIilan, subver-
sive, sexuaI energy lhal lransgresses fronliers
and sociaI slalus al a lime normaIIy devoled lo
lhe Army, lhe Nalion and lhe Slale.
Lel's nov bIov our ovn lrum¡el a IillIe:
3
IN P RAI 5E OF LOVE
NicoIas asked lhe queslions, and I ¡erformed
lhe ambiguous roIe of a ¡hiIoso¡her of Iove, ve
vorked veII logelher and il vas a success. No
doubl aboul il: il vas a hil.
The lexl you are aboul lo read is an eIabora-
lion of vhal ve said on lhe day. Il relains lhe
s¡onlaneous rhylhm, cIarily and energy bul is
more rounded and incisive. I beIieve lhal, from
slarl lo finish, il is vhal il says il is: ¡raise of Iove,
sung by a ¡hiIoso¡her vho lhinks, Iike IIalo,
vhom I quole: ´Anyone vho doesn'l lake Iove as
a slarling ¡oinl viII never undersland lhe nalure
of ¡hiIoso¡hy¨. So here you have AIain ßadiou,
lhe ¡hiIoso¡her Iover, lussIing vilh NicoIas
Truong, a vise inlerrogalor, a ¡hiIoso¡her, and,
of course, a Iover.
LOVE UNDER THREAT
I
|n The Meaning of Sarkozy, a |cck inai nas
su|scqucni|q |cccnc jancus, qcu arguc inai ´uc
nusi rc-intcni |ctc |ui a|sc quiic sinp|q !cjcn!
ii, |ccausc ii jaccs inrcais jrcn a|| si!cs´. |n unai
uaqs is ii inrcaicnc!? Hcu, in qcur ticu, natc inc
arrangc! narriagcs cj qcsicrqcar |ccn rc-packagc!
in inc ncu c|cincs cj ic!aq? | |c|ictc inai rcccni
pu||iciiq jcr a !aiing uc|siic nas pariicu|ar|q
siruck qcu...
Thal's righl, Iaris is ¡Iaslered vilh ¡oslers for
lhe Meelic inlernel daling-sile, vhose ads I find
reaIIy dislurbing. I couId menlion a number of
6
ALAI N BADI OU
sIogans ils hy¡e uses. The firsl misa¡¡ro¡riales
lhe lilIe of Marivaux's ¡Iay, Tnc Ganc cj Ictc
an! Cnancc, ´Gel Iove vilhoul chance!¨ And
lhen anolher says: ´ße in Iove vilhoul faIIing in
Iove!¨ No ra¡lures, righl` Then: ´Gel ¡erfecl Iove
vilhoul suffering!¨ And aII lhanks lo lhe Meelic
daling-sile... lhal offers inlo lhe bargain - and
lhe nolion lakes my brealh avay - ´coaching in
Iove¨. So lhey su¡¡Iy you vilh a lrainer vho viII
¡re¡are you lo face lhe lesl.
I beIieve lhis hy¡e refIecls a safely-firsl
conce¡l of ´Iove¨. Il is Iove com¡rehensiveIy
insured againsl aII risks: you viII have Iove, bul
viII have assessed lhe ¡ros¡eclive reIalionshi¡
so lhoroughIy, viII have seIecled your ¡arlner
so carefuIIy by searching onIine - by oblaining,
of course, a ¡holo, delaiIs of his or her lasles,
dale of birlh, horosco¡e sign, elc. - and ¡ulling
il aII in lhe mix you can leII yourseIf: ´This is
a risk-free o¡lion!¨ Thal's lheir ¡ilch and il's
7
IN P RAI 5 E OF LOVE
fascinaling lhal lhe ad cam¡aign shouId ado¡l
il. CIearIy, inasmuch as Iove is a ¡Ieasure aImosl
everyone is Iooking for, lhe lhing lhal gives
meaning and inlensily lo aImosl everyone's Iife, I
am convinced lhal Iove cannol be a gifl given on
lhe basis of a com¡Iele Iack of risk. The Meelic
a¡¡roach reminds me of lhe ¡ro¡aganda of lhe
American army vhen ¡romoling lhe idea of
´smarl¨ bombs and ´zero dead ¨ vars.
Sc !c qcu inink incrc is a ccnncciicn |ciuccn
´zcrc !ca!´ uars an! ´zcrc risk´ |ctc, in inc
sanc uaq inai sccic|cgisis, |icnar! Scnncii an!
Zqgnuni Baunan, scc an ana|cgq |ciuccn inc
´Nc ccnniincni ic qcu ´ inai jinancc capiia|isn
ic||s inc casua| ucrkcr ic inc ´Nc ccnniincni
jcr nq pari´ inc ´|ctcr´ ic||s nis cr ncr parincr as
incq j|cai in a ucr|! uncrc rc|aiicnsnips arc na!c
an! unna!c in inc nanc cj a ccsq, ccnsuncrisi
pcrnissitcncss?
8
ALAI N BADI OU
Il's aII ralher lhe same scenario. ´Zero dealhs¨
var, ´zero risks¨ Iove, nolhing random, no
chance encounlers. ßacked as il is, vilh aII lhe
resources of a vide-scaIe adverlising cam¡aign,
I see il as lhe firsl lhreal lo Iove, vhal I vouId
caII lhe safely lhreal. Afler aII, il's nol so very
differenl lo an arranged marriage. Nol done
in lhe name of famiIy order and hierarchy by
des¡olic ¡arenls, bul in lhe name of safely for
lhe individuaIs invoIved, lhrough advance agree-
menls lhal avoid randomness, chance encoun-
lers and in lhe end any exislenliaI ¡oelry, due lo
lhe calegoricaI absence of risks.
The second lhreal Iove faces is lo deny lhal il
is al aII im¡orlanl. The counler¡oinl lo lhe safely
lhreal is lhe idea lhal Iove is onIy a varianl of
ram¡anl hedonism and lhe vide range of ¡ossibIe
en|oymenl. The aim is lo avoid any immediale
chaIIenge, any dee¡ and genuine ex¡erience of
lhe olherness from vhich Iove is voven. Hovever,
IN PRAI 5E OF LOVE
ve shouId add lhal as lhe risk faclor can never
be com¡IeleIy eIiminaled, Meelic's ¡ubIicily, Iike
lhe ¡ro¡aganda for im¡eriaI armies, says lhal lhe
risks viII be everyone eIse's! If you have been veII
lrained for Iove, foIIoving lhe canons of modern
safely, you von'l find il difficuIl lo dis¡alch lhe
olher ¡erson if lhey do nol suil. If he suffers, lhal's
his ¡robIem, righl` He's nol ¡arl of modernily. In
lhe same vay lhal ´zero dealhs¨ a¡¡Iy onIy lo
lhe Weslern miIilary. The bombs lhey dro¡ kiII a
Iol of ¡eo¡Ie vho are lo bIame for Iiving under-
nealh. ßul lhese casuaIlies are Afghans, IaIes-
linians... They don'l beIong lo modernily eilher.
Safely-firsl Iove, Iike everylhing governed by lhe
norm of safely, im¡Iies lhe absence of risks for
¡eo¡Ie vho have a good insurance ¡oIicy, a good
army, a good ¡oIice force, a good ¡sychoIogicaI
lake on ¡ersonaI hedonism, and aII risks for lhose
on lhe o¡¡osile side.
You musl have noliced hov ve are aIvays
10
AL AI N BADI OU
being loId lhal lhings are being deaIl vilh ´for
your comforl and safely¨, from ¡olhoIes in
¡avemenls lo ¡oIice ¡alroIs in lhe melro. Love
confronls lvo enemies, essenliaIIy: safely guar-
anleed by an insurance ¡oIicy and lhe comforl
zone Iimiled by reguIaled ¡Ieasures.
Sc incrc is a kin! cj paci |ciuccn |i|criarian an!
|i|cra| i!cas cn |ctc?
In effecl I lhink lhal IiberaIs and Iiberlarians
converge around lhe idea lhal Iove is a fuliIe
risk. And lhal, on lhe one hand, you can have
a kind of veII-¡Ianned marriage ¡ursued vilh
aII lhe deIighls of consummalion and, on lhe
olher, fun sexuaI arrangemenls fuII of ¡Ieasure,
if you disregard ¡assion. Seen from lhis ¡ers¡ec-
live, I reaIIy do lhink lhal Iove, in loday's vorId,
is caughl in lhis bind, in lhis vicious circIe and is
consequenlIy under lhreal. I lhink il is lhe lask
IN P RAI 5E OF LOVE
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1 1
of ¡hiIoso¡hy, as veII as olher fieIds, lo raIIy lo
ils defence. And lhal ¡robabIy means, as lhe ¡oel
Rimbaud said, lhal il aIso needs re-invenling. Il
cannol be a defensive aclion sim¡Iy lo mainlain
lhe slalus quo. The vorId is fuII of nev deveI-
o¡menls and Iove musl aIso be somelhing
lhal innovales. Risk and advenlure musl be
re-invenled againsl safely and comforl.
PHILO5OPHER5 AND LOVE
Ycu |crrcu jrcn |in|au! inc pnrasc ´Ictc ncc!s
rc-intcniing´ an! !rau cn nuncrcus pccis an!
uriicrs as qcu !ctc|cp qcur cun ccnccpiicn cj |ctc.
Bui jirsi uc sncu|! pcrnaps ask qucsiicns cj cincr
pni|cscpncrs. Ycu natc |ccn inprcssc! |q inc jaci
inai sc jcu natc sncun a scricus inicrcsi in |ctc,
an! uncn incq natc, qcu usua||q !isagrcc uiin
incn. Wnq?
The reIalionshi¡ belveen ¡hiIoso¡hers and
Iove is cerlainIy far from slraighlforvard. Aude
LanceIin and Marie Lemonnier's Pni|cscpncrs an!
Ictc jrcn Sccraics ic Sincnc !c Bcautcir shovs
13
IN PRAI 5E OF LOVE
lhal very cIearIy. The book has added inleresl in
lhal il combines an examinalion of lhe ¡hiIoso-
¡hers' lhinking and lheir Iives vilhoul dumbing
dovn. In lhal sense, il is aImosl un¡rece-
denled. The book shovs hov ¡hiIoso¡hy osciI-
Iales belveen lvo exlremes vhen il comes lo
Iove, even lhough lhere are aIso inlermediale
¡oinls of viev. On lhe one hand, lhere is ´anli-
Iove¨ ¡hiIoso¡hy, Arlhur Scho¡enhauer being
lhe ¡rime re¡resenlalive of lhal lendency. He is
veII knovn for vriling lhal he viII never forgive
vomen for ex¡eriencing a ¡assion for Iove, lhus
making il ¡ossibIe lo ¡er¡eluale a human s¡ecies
lhal vas in facl vorlhIess! He is one exlreme. Al
lhe olher, you find ¡hiIoso¡hers vho lransform
Iove inlo one of lhe highesl IeveIs of sub|eclive
ex¡erience. Thal is lhe case vilh Sören Kierke-
gaard, for exam¡Ie. Ior Kierkegaard lhere are
lhree IeveIs of exislence. Al lhe aeslhelic IeveI,
lhe ex¡erience of Iove is one of vain seduclion
14
ALAI N BADI OU
and re¡elilion. The seIfishness of ¡Ieasure and
lhe very seIfishness of lhal seIfishness drive indi-
viduaIs on, lhe archely¡e being Mozarl's Don
}uan. Al lhe elhicaI IeveI, Iove is genuine and
demonslrales ils ovn seriousness. Il is an elernaI
commilmenl, lurned lovards lhe absoIule,
somelhing Kierkegaard himseIf ex¡erienced
in his Iong courlshi¡ of lhe young Regine. The
elhicaI IeveI can Iead lhe vay lo lhe highesl IeveI,
lhe reIigious IeveI, if lhe absoIule vaIue of lhe
commilmenl is endorsed by marriage. Marriage
is lhus conceived nol as a slrenglhening of lhe
sociaI bond againsl lhe ¡eriIs of vayvard Iove,
bul as lhe inslilulion lhal channeIs genuine Iove
lovards ils fundamenlaI deslinalion. The finaI
lransfiguralion of Iove becomes ¡ossibIe vhen
´lhe Igo ¡Iunges lhrough ils ovn lrans¡arency
lo meel lhe ¡over lhal has crealed il¨: lhal is,
vhen, lhanks lo lhe ex¡erience of Iove, lhe Igo
rools ilseIf in ils divine source. Love lhen moves
15
IN PRAI 5E OF LOVE
beyond seduclion and, lhrough lhe serious
medialion of marriage, becomes a vay lo accede
lo lhe su¡er-human.
As you can see, ¡hiIoso¡hy slruggIes vilh
huge lension. On lhe one hand, Iove seen as a
naluraI exlravagance of sex arouses a kind of
ralionaI sus¡icion. ConverseIy, ve see an a¡oIogy
for Iove lhal borders on reIigious e¡i¡hany. Chris-
lianily hovers in lhe background, a reIigion of
Iove afler aII. And lhe lension is aImosl unbear-
abIe. Thus, vhen Kierkegaard vas finaIIy unabIe
lo conlem¡Iale lhe idea of marrying Regine,
he broke vilh her. In lhe end, he re¡resenled
lhe aeslhele seducer of lhe firsl IeveI, Iived lhe
elhicaI ¡romise of lhe second and faiIed lo make
lhe lransilion, via lhe reaI-Iife seriousness of
marriage, lo lhe lhird IeveI. NonelheIess, he
visiled lhe vhoIe gamul of forms of ¡hiIoso¡h-
icaI refIeclion on Iove.
16
ALAI N BADI OU
Occs qcur cun inicrcsi in inis qucsiicn gc |ack ic
inc iniiia| nctc na!c |q P|aic unc iurns |ctc inic
cnc cj inc uaqs cj apprcacning inc |!ca?
IIalo is quile ¡recise in vhal he says aboul Iove:
a seed of universaIily resides in lhe im¡uIse
lovards Iove. The ex¡erience of Iove is an im¡uIse
lovards somelhing lhal he caIIs lhe Idea. Thus,
even vhen I am mereIy admiring a beaulifuI
body, vhelher I Iike il or nol, I am in movemenl
lovards lhe idea of ßeauly. I lhink - in quile
differenl lerms, naluraIIy - aIong lhe same Iines,
nameIy lhal Iove encom¡asses lhe ex¡erience of
lhe ¡ossibIe lransilion from lhe ¡ure randomness
of chance lo a slale lhal has universaI vaIue.
Slarling oul from somelhing lhal is sim¡Iy an
encounler, a lrifIe, you Iearn lhal you can ex¡eri-
ence lhe vorId on lhe basis of difference and
nol onIy in lerms of idenlily. And you can even
be lesled and suffer in lhe ¡rocess. In loday's
27
I N P RAI 5 E OF LOVE
vorId, il is generaIIy lhoughl lhal individuaIs
onIy ¡ursue lheir ovn seIf-inleresl. Love is an
anlidole lo lhal. Irovided il isn'l conceived onIy
as an exchange of muluaI favours, or isn'l caIcu-
Ialed vay in advance as a ¡rofilabIe inveslmenl,
Iove reaIIy is a unique lrusl ¡Iaced in chance.
Il lakes us inlo key areas of lhe ex¡erience of
vhal is difference and, essenliaIIy, Ieads lo lhe
idea lhal you can ex¡erience lhe vorId from lhe
¡ers¡eclive of difference. In lhis res¡ecl il has
universaI im¡Iicalions: il is an individuaI ex¡eri-
ence of ¡olenliaI universaIily, and is lhus cenlraI
lo ¡hiIoso¡hy, as IIalo vas lhe firsl lo inluil.
Onc cj inc grcai inccriscrs cj |ctc, acccr!ing ic
qcu, jacqucs Iacan, a|sc cngagc! in !ia|cguc uiin
P|aic an! ccnc|u!c!, ´incrc is nc sucn ining as a
scxua| rc|aiicnsnipW nai !i! nc ncan?
His is a very inleresling lhesis, derived from
AL AI N BADI OU
en
18
a moraIisl, sce¡licaI ¡ers¡eclive, bul one lhal
Ieads lo lhe conlrary concIusion. }acques Lacan
reminds us, lhal in sex, each individuaI is lo a
Iarge exlenl on lheir ovn, if I can ¡ul il lhal vay.
NaluraIIy, lhe olher's body has lo be medialed, bul
al lhe end of lhe day, lhe ¡Ieasure viII be aIvays
your ¡Ieasure. Sex se¡arales, doesn'l unile. The
facl you are naked and ¡ressing againsl lhe olher
is an image, an imaginary re¡resenlalion. Whal
is reaI is lhal ¡Ieasure lakes you a Iong vay avay,
very far from lhe olher. Whal is reaI is narcis-
sislic, vhal binds is imaginary. So lhere is no
such lhing as a sexuaI reIalionshi¡, concIudes
Lacan. His ¡ro¡osilion shocked ¡eo¡Ie since al
lhe lime everybody vas laIking aboul nolhing
eIse bul ´sexuaI reIalionshi¡s¨. If lhere is no
sexuaI reIalionshi¡ in sexuaIily, Iove is vhal fiIIs
lhe absence of a sexuaI reIalionshi¡.
Lacan doesn'l say lhal Iove is a disguise
for sexuaI reIalionshi¡s, he says lhal sexuaI
1 9
I N P RAI 5 E OF LOVE
reIalionshi¡s don'l exisl, lhal Iove is vhal comes
lo re¡Iace lhal non-reIalionshi¡. Thal's much
more inleresling. This idea Ieads him lo say lhal
in Iove lhe olher lries lo a¡¡roach ´lhe being of
lhe olher¨. In Iove lhe individuaI goes beyond
himseIf, beyond lhe narcissislic. In sex, you are
reaIIy in a reIalionshi¡ vilh yourseIf via lhe
medialion of lhe olher. The olher heI¡s you lo
discover lhe reaIily of ¡Ieasure. In Iove, on lhe
conlrary lhe medialion of lhe olher is enough
in ilseIf. Such is lhe nalure of lhe amorous
encounler: you go lo lake on lhe olher, lo make
him or her exisl vilh you, as he or she is. Il is a
much more ¡rofound conce¡lion of Iove lhan lhe
enlireIy banaI viev lhal Iove is no more lhan an
imaginary canvas ¡ainled over lhe reaIily of sex.
In facl, Lacan aIso engages in ¡hiIoso¡hicaI
ambiguilies in reIalion lo Iove. The idea lhal
´Iove is vhal fiIIs lhe absence of a sexuaI reIa-
lionshi¡¨ can indeed be inler¡reled in lvo vays.
2 0
AL AI N BADI OU
The firsl and mosl obvious is lhal Iove is vhal lhe
imaginalion em¡Ioys lo fiII lhe em¡liness crealed
by sex. Il is quile lrue, afler aII, lhal sex, hovever
s¡Iendid il is and cerlainIy can be, ends in a kind
of em¡liness. Thal is reaIIy vhy il is sub|ecl lo
lhe Iav of re¡elilion: one musl slarl lime and
lime again. Ivery day, vhen one is young! Then
Iove comes lo be lhe idea lhal somelhing exisls in
lhis void, lhal Iovers are Iinked by somelhing eIse
a¡arl from lhis reIalionshi¡ lhal doesn'l exisl.
When I vas a very young man, I vas very
slruck, aImosl disgusled, by a ¡assage in Simone
de ßeauvoir's Tnc Scccn! Scx, vhere she describes,
hov, afler having sex, lhe man feeIs lhe voman's
body is fIal and fIabby and lhe voman feeIs in
¡araIIeI lhal lhe man's body, a¡arl from his
erecl member, is generaIIy unallraclive, if nol
sIighlIy ridicuIous. ThealricaI farce or vaude-
viIIe makes us Iaugh vilh a conslanl usage of
simiIar lhoughls. Man's desire is lhe desire of
21
I N P RAI 5 E OF LOVE
lhe comic, big-beIIied, im¡olenl IhaIIus, and lhe
loolhIess hag vilh sagging breasls is lhe fulure
lhal avails aII beauly. Loving lenderness, vhen
you faII asIee¡ in lhe olher's arms, is Iike Noah's
cIoak casl over lhese un¡Ieasanl consideralions.
ßul Lacan aIso lhinks quile lhe o¡¡osile, lhal
Iove reaches oul lovards lhe onloIogicaI. WhiIe
desire focuses on lhe olher, aIvays in a somevhal
felishisl manner, on ¡arlicuIar ob|ecls, Iike
breasls, bullocks and cock... Iove focuses on lhe
very being of lhe olher, on lhe olher as il has
eru¡led, fuIIy armed vilh ils being, inlo my Iife
lhus disru¡led and re-fashioned.
Wnai qcu arc rca||q saqing is inai incrc arc tcrq
ccnira!icicrq pni|cscpnica| inicrprciaiicns uncn ii
ccncs ic |ctc?
Irinci¡aIIy lhree. Iirsl, lhere is lhe romanlic
inler¡relalion lhal focuses on lhe ecslasy of lhe
<5®+g$U£>
22
ALAI N BADI OU
encounler. SecondIy, vhal ve referred briefIy lo
vhen discussing lhe Meelic daling agency, lhe
inler¡relalion based on a commerciaI or IegaI-
islic ¡ers¡eclive, vhich argues lhal Iove musl in
lhe end be a conlracl. A conlracl belveen lvo
free individuaIs vho vouId ¡resumabIy decIare
lhal lhey Iove each olher, lhough lhey never
forgel lhe necessary equaIily of lhe reIalionshi¡,
lhe syslem of muluaI benefils, elc. IinaIIy, lhere
is lhe sce¡licaI inler¡relalion lhal lurns Iove
inlo an iIIusion. My ovn ¡hiIoso¡hicaI viev is
allem¡ling lo say lhal Iove cannol be reduced lo
any of lhese a¡¡roximalions and is a quesl for
lrulh. Whal kind of lrulh` you viII ask. I mean
lrulh in reIalion lo somelhing quile ¡recise: vhal
kind of vorId does one see vhen one ex¡eriences
il from lhe ¡oinl of viev of lvo and nol one` Whal
is lhe vorId Iike vhen il is ex¡erienced, deveIo¡ed
and Iived from lhe ¡oinl of viev of difference and
nol idenlily` Thal is vhal I beIieve Iove lo be. Il
IN P RAI 5 E OF LOVE
is lhe ¡ro|ecl, naluraIIy incIuding sexuaI desire
in aII ils facels, incIuding lhe birlh of a chiId, bul
aIso a lhousand olher lhings, in facl, anylhing
from lhe momenl our Iives are chaIIenged by lhe
¡ers¡eclive of difference.
Gitcn inai |ctc, acccr!ing ic qcu, is a nanncr cj
cxpcricncing inc ucr|! cn inc |asis cj !ijjcrcncc,
unq !cn´i qcu snarc inc ticu cj inc pni|cscpncr
|nnanuc| Ictinas, nanc|q inai inc pcrscn in |ctc
cxpcricnccs in inc pcrscn nc cr snc |ctcs nci ´a
qua|iiq inai is !ijjcrcni jrcn anq cincr, |ui inc tcrq
qua|iiq cj !ijjcrcncc´? Wnq !cn´i qcu acccpi inai
|ctc is an cxpcricncc cj inc cincr?
I lhink lhal il is essenliaI lo gras¡ lhal lhe
conslruclion of lhe vorId on lhe basis of differ-
ence is quile dislincl from lhe ex¡erience of
difference. Levinas's vision slarls from lhe
irreducibIe ex¡erience of lhe face of lhe olher,
ALAI N BADI OU
an e¡i¡hany lhal is grounded in God as ´lhe
AImighly Olher¨. The ex¡erience of olherness
is cenlraI, because il is lhe foundalion slone of
elhics. In a greal reIigious lradilion, Iove aIso
becomes an elhicaI senlimenl par cxcc||cncc. In
my viev, lhere is nolhing ¡arlicuIarIy ´elhicaI¨
aboul Iove as such. I reaIIy don'l Iike aII lhese
lheoIogicaI ruminalions ins¡ired by Iove, even
lhough I knov lhey have made a greal im¡acl
on hislory. I can onIy see lhe uIlimale revenge
of One over Tvo. I beIieve lhere reaIIy is an
encounler vilh lhe olher, bul an encounler is
nol an ex¡erience, il is an evenl lhal remains
quile o¡aque and onIy finds reaIily in ils muIli¡Ie
resonances vilhin lhe reaI vorId. Nor can I see
Iove as an ex¡erience of ´communion¨, nameIy,
an ex¡erience in vhich I forgel myseIf on behaIf
of lhe olher, lhal is a modeI in lhis vorId of vhal
viII finaIIy Iead me lo lhe AImighly Olher. Al
lhe end of |ausi, Goelhe vas aIready asserling
<5*|g/§lfcS>
25
I N P RAI 5E OF LOVE
lhal ´lhe elernaI feminine lakes us Above¨. I'm
sorry, bul I find such slalemenls ralher obscene.
Love doesn'l lake me ´above¨ or indeed ´beIov¨.
Il is an exislenliaI ¡ro|ecl: lo conslrucl a vorId
from a decenlred ¡oinl of viev olher lhan lhal
of my mere im¡uIse lo survive or re-affirm my
ovn idenlily.
Here, I am o¡¡osing ´conslruclion¨ lo ´ex¡e-
rience¨. When I Iean on lhe shouIder of lhe
voman I Iove, and can see, Iel's say, lhe ¡eace of
lviIighl over a mounlain Iandsca¡e, goId-green
fieIds, lhe shadov of lrees, bIack-nosed shee¡
molionIess behind hedges and lhe sun aboul lo
disa¡¡ear behind craggy ¡eaks, and knov - nol
from lhe ex¡ression on her face, bul from vilhin
lhe vorId as il is - lhal lhe voman I Iove is seeing
lhe same vorId, and lhal lhis convergence is ¡arl
of lhe vorId and lhal Iove conslilules ¡reciseIy,
al lhal very momenl, lhe ¡aradox of an idenlicaI
difference, lhen Iove exisls, and ¡romises lo
AL AI N BADI OU
conlinue lo exisl. The facl is she and I are nov
incor¡oraled inlo lhis unique Sub|ecl, lhe
Sub|ecl of Iove lhal vievs lhe ¡anorama of lhe
vorId lhrough lhe ¡rism of our difference, so lhis
vorId can be conceived, be born, and nol sim¡Iy
re¡resenl vhal fiIIs my ovn individuaI gaze. Love
is aIvays lhe ¡ossibiIily of being ¡resenl al lhe
birlh of lhe vorId. The birlh of a chiId, if born
from vilhin Iove, is yel anolher exam¡Ie of lhis
¡ossibiIily.
I I I
THE CON5TRUCTION OF LOVE
<55i§/mp
Ici´s ncu iurn ic qcur cun ccnccpiicn cj |ctc. Wc
natc ncniicnc! inai |in|au! uanic! ic rc-intcni
|ctc. Bui rc-intcni ii siariing cui jrcn unicn i!ca
a|cui |ctc?
I lhink ve shouId a¡¡roach lhe queslion of Iove
from lvo ¡oinls lhal corres¡ond lo everyone's
ex¡erience. IirslIy, Iove invoIves a se¡aralion
or dis|unclure based on lhe sim¡Ie difference
belveen lvo ¡eo¡Ie and lheir infinile sub|ec-
livilies. This dis|unclure is, in mosl cases, sexuaI
difference. When lhal isn'l lhe case, Iove sliII
ensures lhal lvo figures, lvo differenl inler¡relive
ALAI N BADI OU
slances are sel in o¡¡osilion. In olher vords,
Iove conlains an iniliaI eIemenl lhal se¡arales,
disIocales and differenliales. You have Tuc. Love
invoIves Tvo.
The second ¡oinl is lhal ¡reciseIy because il
encom¡asses a dis|unclure, al lhe momenl vhen
lhis Tvo a¡¡ear on slage as such and ex¡erience
lhe vorId in a nev vay, il can onIy assume a
risky or conlingenl form. Thal is vhal ve knov
as ´lhe encounler¨. Love aIvays slarls vilh an
encounler. And I vouId give lhis encounler
lhe quasi-mela¡hysicaI slalus of an ctcni,
nameIy of somelhing lhal doesn'l enler inlo lhe
immediale order of lhings. There are innumer-
abIe exam¡Ies in arl or Iileralure lhal describe
such a slarling-¡oinl for Iove. Many slories or
noveIs focus on cases vhere Tvo are ¡arlicuIarIy
marked oul, vhen lhe lvo Iovers don'l beIong
lo lhe same cIass, grou¡, cIan or counlry. |cncc
an! ju|ici is cIearIy lhe oulslanding aIIegory for
I N P RAI 5E OF LOVE
lhis ¡arlicuIar dis|unclure because lhis Tvo
beIong lo enemy cam¡s. We shouIdn'l under-
eslimale lhe ¡over Iove ¡ossesses lo sIice diago-
naIIy lhrough lhe mosl ¡overfuI o¡¡osilions and
radicaI se¡aralions. The encounler belveen lvo
differences is an evenl, is conlingenl and discon-
cerling, ´Iove's sur¡rises¨, lhealre yel again. On
lhe basis of lhis evenl, Iove can slarl and fIourish.
Il is lhe firsl, absoIuleIy essenliaI ¡oinl. This
sur¡rise unIeashes a ¡rocess lhal is basicaIIy an
ex¡erience of gelling lo knov lhe vorId. Love
isn'l sim¡Iy aboul lvo ¡eo¡Ie meeling and lheir
invard-Iooking reIalionshi¡: il is a conslruc-
lion, a Iife lhal is being made, no Ionger from
lhe ¡ers¡eclive of One bul £rom lhe ¡ers¡eclive
of Tvo. And lhal is vhal I have caIIed a ´Tvo
scene¨. IersonaIIy, I have aIvays been inleresled
in issues of duralion and ¡rocess, and nol onIy
slarling-¡oinls.
30
ALAI N BADI OU
Acccr!ing ic qcu, |ctc can´i |c rcsiricic! ic inc
ncciing, |ui iakcs snapc ctcr iinc. Wnq !c qcu
rcjcci inc jusicn inicrprciaiicn cj |ctc?
I lhink many ¡eo¡Ie sliII cIing lo a romanlic
conce¡lion of Iove lhal in a vay absorbs Iove in
lhe encounler. Love is simuIlaneousIy igniled,
consummaled and consumed in lhe meeling, in
a magicaI momenl oulside lhe vorId as il reaIIy
is. Somelhing ha¡¡ens lhal is in lhe nalure of a
miracIe, an exislenliaI inlensily, an encounler
Ieading lo meIldovn. ßul vhen lhings ha¡¡en
lhal vay, ve aren'l vilnessing a ´Tvo scene¨ bul
a ´One scene¨. Il is lhe meIldovn conce¡l of Iove:
lhe lvo Iovers mel and somelhing Iike a heroic
acl for One vas enacled againsl lhe vorId. In
Romanlic mylhoIogy ve can see hov lhis ¡oinl
of fusion very oflen Ieads lo dealh. There is a
cIose and ¡rofound Iink belveen Iove and dealh,
lhe highesl ¡oinl of vhich no doubl is Richard
31
IN P RAI 5 E OF LOVE
Wagner's Trisian an! |sc|!c, because Iove is
consumed in lhe ineffabIe, exce¡lionaI momenl
of lhe encounler, afler vhich il is im¡ossibIe lo
go back lo a vorId lhal remains exlernaI lo lhe
reIalionshi¡.
This is a radicaIIy Romanlic inler¡relalion
lhal I lhink ve need lo chaIIenge. Il is arlisli-
caIIy exlremeIy beaulifuI bul, in my o¡inion,
il is exislenliaIIy seriousIy Iacking. I beIieve ve
shouId acce¡l il as a ¡overfuI arlislic mylh,
bul nol as a genuine ¡hiIoso¡hy of Iove. Afler
aII, Iove lakes ¡Iace in lhe vorId. Il is an evenl
lhal can'l be ¡redicled or caIcuIaled in lerms of
lhe vorId's Iavs. Nolhing enabIes one lo ¡re-
arrange lhe encounler - nol even Meelic, and
aII lhose Iong, ¡re¡aralory chals!: in lhe end,
lhe momenl you see each olher in lhe fIesh, you
see each olher, and lhal's lhal, and il's oul of
conlroI! Hovever, Iove cannol be reduced lo lhe
firsl encounler, because il is a conslruclion. The
32
ALAI N BADI OU
enigma in lhinking aboul Iove is lhe duralion of
lime necessary for il lo fIourish. In facl, il isn'l
lhe ecslasy of lhose beginnings lhal is remark-
abIe. The Ialler are cIearIy ecslalic, bul Iove is
above aII a conslruclion lhal Iasls. We couId say
lhal Iove is a lenacious advenlure. The adven-
lurous side is necessary, bul equaIIy so is lhe
need for lenacily. To give u¡ al lhe firsl hurdIe,
lhe firsl serious disagreemenl, lhe firsl quarreI, is
onIy lo dislorl Iove. ReaI Iove is one lhal lrium¡hs
IaslingIy, somelimes ¡ainfuIIy, over lhe hurdIes
erecled by lime, s¡ace and lhe vorId.
An! unai is inis ccnsiruciicn |ikc?
The slorybooks are ¡relly siIenl on lhal fronl,
aren'l lhey` The end of lhe slory says, ´They gol
married and had Iols of chiIdren¨. Yes, sure, bul
is Iove sim¡Iy aboul gelling married` And having
Iols of chiIdren` Such an ex¡Ianalion is ralher
33
I N P RAI 5E OF LOVE
su¡erficiaI and hackneyed. The idea lhal Iove is
excIusiveIy fuIfiIIed or enacled via lhe crealion of
a famiIy universe is far from salisfaclory. Nol lhal
lhe famiIy universe isn'l ¡arl of Iove - 1, for one,
cerlainIy lhink il is - bul il can'l be reduced lo
lhal. We shouId undersland lhal lhe birlh of a
chiId is ¡arl of Iove, bul shouIdn'l lhen concIude
lhal lhe birlh of a chiId is lhe fuIfiImenl of Iove.
I am reaIIy inleresled in lhe lime Iove endures.
Lel's be more ¡recise: by ´endure¨ one shouId
nol sim¡Iy undersland lhal Iove Iasls, lhal Iove
is forever or aIvays. One has lo undersland lhal
Iove invenls a differenl vay of Iasling in Iife.
Thal everyone's exislence, vhen lesled by Iove,
confronls a nev vay of ex¡eriencing lime. Of
course, if ve echo lhe ¡oel, Iove is aIso lhe ´lhe
dour desire lo endure¨. ßul, more lhan lhal, il
is lhe desire for an unknovn duralion. ßecause,
as ve aII knov, Iove is a re-invenlion of Iife. To
re-invenl Iove is lo re-invenl lhal re-invenlion.
<3l+
ALAI N BADI OU
|n qcur |cck, Condilions, qcu cna||cngc a nun|cr
cj cn!uring i!cas a|cui |ctc, ncia||q inc i!ca inai
inc jcc|ing cj |cing in |ctc is an i||usicn, a ccnccpi
ccnira| ic inc pcssinisiic ira!iiicn cj inc |rcncn
ncra|isis, acccr!ing ic unicn |ctc is |ui ´inc
!cccraiitc jaça!c tia unicn inc rca|iiq cj scx asscris
iisc|j ´ cr unicn ccnsi!crs inai ´|ctc is csscniia||q
!csirc an! scxua| jca|cusq´. Wnq !c qcu criiicisc
inis ccnccpiicn?
This moraIisl conce¡l beIongs lo a lradilion of
sce¡licism. This ¡hiIoso¡hy cIaims lhal Iove
doesn'l reaIIy exisl and is mereIy camoufIaging
desire. Desire is lhe onIy lhing lhal reaIIy exisls.
According lo lhis vision, Iove is mereIy somelhing
lhe imaginalion conslrucls lo give a veneer lo
sexuaI desire. This idea, lhal has a Iong hislory,
encourages everybody lo be sus¡icious aboul
Iove. Il aIso beIongs lo lhe Ianguage of safely-
firsl, because il is basicaIIy saying: ´Lislen, if
IN P RAI 5E OF LOVE
cçgj5iic
35
you have sexuaI desires, fuIfiI lhem. ßul lhere's
no need lo gel hooked on lhe idea lhal you have
lo Iove someone. Iorgel aII lhal and |usl do il!¨
Hovever, in lhal case, I vouId say lhal Iove is
being undermined - or de-conslrucled, if you
Iike - in lhe name of lhe reaIily of sex.
In lhis res¡ecl, I vouId Iike lo refer lo my ovn
ex¡erience. I knov, I lhink, Iike aImosl everyone
eIse, aboul lhe drive and insislence of sexuaI
desire. Age doesn'l Iel me forgel lhal. I aIso
knov lhal Iove inscribes lhe fuIfiImenl of lhis
desire vilhin lhe course of ils ovn deveIo¡menl.
And lhis is im¡orlanl, because, as lhe Iileralure
says from lime immemoriaI, lhe fuIfiImenl of
sexuaI desire aIso funclions Iike one of lhose rare
maleriaI ¡roofs, lolaIIy Iinked lo lhe body, lhal
Iove is more lhan a mere decIaralion of vords.
A decIaralion of lhe ´I Iove you¨ kind seaIs lhe
acl of lhe encounler, is cenlraI and conslilules
a commilmenl. ßul surrendering your body,
ALAI N BADI OU
laking your cIolhes off, being naked for lhe olher,
rehearsing lhose haIIoved geslures, renouncing
aII embarrassmenl, shouling, aII lhis invoIve-
menl of lhe body is evidence of a surrender lo
Iove. Il cruciaIIy dislinguishes il from friendshi¡.
Iriendshi¡ doesn'l invoIve bodiIy conlacl, or any
resonances in ¡Ieasure of lhe body. Thal's vhy il
is a more inleIIecluaI allachmenl, and one lhal
¡hiIoso¡hers vho are sus¡icious of ¡assion have
aIvays ¡referred. Love, ¡arlicuIarIy over lime,
embraces aII lhe ¡osilive as¡ecls of friendshi¡
bul Iove reIales lo lhe lolaIily of lhe being of lhe
olher, and lhe surrender of lhe body becomes
lhe maleriaI symboI of lhal lolaIily. Ieo¡Ie can
say: ´Thal's nol lrue! Il is desire and desire aIone
lhal's al vork lhere.¨ I vouId mainlain lhal,
vilhin lhe framevork of a Iove lhal decIares
ilseIf, lhis decIaralion, even if il remains Ialenl,
is vhal ¡roduces lhe effecls of desire, and nol
desire ilseIf. Love ¡roves ilseIf by ¡ermealing
öfcg/SSÄs
37
IN PRAI 5E OF LOVE
desire. The riluaI of bodies is lhen lhe maleriaI
ex¡ression of lhe vord, il communicales lhe idea
lhal lhe ¡romise lo re-invenl Iife viII be fuIfiIIed,
iniliaIIy in lerms of lhe body. ßul even in lheir
viIdesl deIirium, Iovers knov lhal Iove is lhere,
Iike lheir bodies' guardian angeI, vhen lhey
vake u¡ in lhe morning, vhen ¡eace descends
over lhe ¡roof lhal lheir bodies have gras¡ed lhal
Iove has been decIared.
Thal is vhy I beIieve Iove cannol be and isn'l
for anyone, a¡arl from lhe ideoIogues keen lo
erase il, a mere cIoak for sexuaI desire, a so¡his-
licaled, chimericaI ¡Ioy lo ensure lhe survivaI of
lhe s¡ecies.
THE TRUTH OF LOVE
IV
Ycu ucrc rcnin!ing us car|icr inai P|aic na!
a|rca!q i!cniijic! inc pariicu|ar |ink inai cxisis
|ciuccn |ctc an! iruin. Bui in unai uaq !c qcu
inink inai |ctc is a ¨iruin prccc!urc´?
I beIieve lhal Iove is indeed vhal I caII in my ovn
¡hiIoso¡hicaI |argon a ´lrulh ¡rocedure¨, lhal is,
an ex¡erience vhereby a cerlain kind of lrulh is
conslrucled. This lrulh is quile sim¡Iy lhe lrulh
aboul Tvo: lhe lrulh lhal derives from difference
as such. And I lhink lhal Iove - vhal I caII lhe
´Tvo scene¨ - is lhis ex¡erience. In lhis sense,
aII Iove lhal acce¡ls lhe chaIIenge, commils lo
<3^g!!"
IN P RAI 5 E OF LOVE
enduring, and embraces lhis ex¡erience of lhe
vorId from lhe ¡ers¡eclive of difference ¡roduces
in ils vay a nev lrulh aboul difference.
Thal is vhy Iove lhal is reaI is aIvays of
inleresl lo lhe vhoIe of humanily, hovever
humbIe, hovever hidden, lhal Iove mighl seem
on lhe surface. We knov hov ¡eo¡Ie gel carried
avay by Iove slories! A ¡hiIoso¡her musl ask
vhy lhal ha¡¡ens. Why are lhere so many fiIms,
noveIs, and songs lhal are enlireIy given over lo
Iove slories` There musl be somelhing universaI
aboul Iove for lhese slories lo inleresl such an
enormous audience. Whal is universaI is lhal aII
Iove suggesls a nev ex¡erience of lrulh aboul
vhal il is lo be lvo and nol one. Thal ve can
encounler and ex¡erience lhe vorId olher lhan
lhrough a soIilary consciousness: any Iove vhal-
soever gives us nev evidence of lhis. And lhal is
vhy ve Iike lo Iove, as Sl Augusline says, ve Iike
lo Iove, bul ve aIso Iike olhers lo Iove us: quile
4 0
ALAI N BADI OU
sim¡Iy because ve Iove lrulhs. Thal is vhal gives
¡hiIoso¡hy ils meaning: ¡eo¡Ie Iike lrulhs, even
vhen lhey don'l knov lhal lhey Iike lhem.
|i sccns inai inis iruin ncc!s ic |c spckcn, an! qcu
natc ia|kc! a|cui |ctc inai is ´!cc|arc!Acccr!ing
ic qcuj cj ncccssiiq, incrc is a siagc in |ctc uncn
|ctc is !cc|arc!. Wnq is ii sc tiia| jcr |ctc ic |c
spckcn?
ßecause lhe decIaralion is inscribed in lhe
slruclure of lhe evenl ilseIf. Iirsl, you have an
encounler. I ¡oinled oul hov Iove begins vilh
lhe vhoIIy conlingenl, random characler of lhe
encounler. These reaIIy are games of Iove and
chance. And lhey are unavoidabIe. They aIvays
exisl, des¡ile lhal ¡ubIicily hy¡e I menlioned.
ßul chance, al a given momenl, musl be curbed.
Il musl lurn inlo a ¡rocess lhal can Iasl. This is
a very difficuIl, aImosl mela¡hysicaI ¡robIem:
IN P RAI 5E OF LOVE
<®+ginp
41
hov can vhal is ¡ure chance al lhe oulsel
become lhe fuIcrum for a conslruclion of lrulh`
Hov can somelhing lhal vas basicaIIy un¡re-
diclabIe and seemed lied lo lhe un¡rediclabIe
vagaries of exislence neverlheIess become lhe
enlire meaning of lvo Iives lhal have mel, ¡aired
off, lhal viII engage in lhe exlended ex¡eri-
ence of lhe conslanl (re)-birlh of lhe vorId via
lhe medialion of lhe difference in lheir gazes`
Hov do you move from a mere encounler lo lhe
¡aradox of a singIe vorId vhere il is reveaIed
lhal ve are lvo` Il is a com¡Iele myslery. And
lhis is vhal reaIIy nourishes sce¡licism aboul
Iove. Ieo¡Ie viII say, vhy laIk aboul greal lrulh
in res¡ecl of lhe quile banaI facl lhal So and So
mel his or her coIIeague al vork` Thal's exaclIy
vhal ve musl em¡hasise: an a¡¡arenlIy insig-
nificanl acl, bul one lhal is a reaIIy radicaI evenl
in Iife al a micro-IeveI, bears universaI meaning
in lhe vay il ¡ersisls and endures.
42
ALAI N BADI OU
NeverlheIess, il is righl lhal ´chance musl be
curbed¨. Il is somelhing MaIIarme said: ´Chance
is al Iasl curbed...¨ He says il aboul ¡oelry, nol
aboul Iove. ßul his vords can be quile usefuIIy
a¡¡Iied lo Iove and lhe decIaralion of Iove, vilh
lhe lerribIe difficuIlies and varielies of anguish
lhey bring. ßesides, lhe affinilies belveen ¡oems
and decIaralions of Iove are veII knovn. In bolh
cases, huge risks are invoIved lhal are de¡endenl
on Ianguage ilseIf. Il is aboul ullering a vord
lhe effecls of vhich, in exislence, can be aImosl
infinile. Thal is aIso lhe desire driving a ¡oem.
The sim¡Iesl vords become charged vilh an
inlensily lhal is aImosl inloIerabIe. To make a
decIaralion of Iove is lo move on from lhe evenl-
encounler lo embark on a conslruclion of lrulh.
The chance nalure of lhe encounler mor¡hs
inlo lhe assum¡lion of a beginning. And oflen
vhal slarls lhere Iasls so Iong, is so charged
vilh noveIly and ex¡erience of lhe vorId lhal
43
IN P RAI 5E OF LOVE
in relros¡ecl il doesn'l seem al aII random and
conlingenl, as il a¡¡eared iniliaIIy, bul aImosl
a necessily. Thal is hov chance is curbed: lhe
absoIule conlingency of lhe encounler vilh
someone I didn'l knov finaIIy lakes on lhe
a¡¡earance of desliny. The decIaralion of Iove
marks lhe lransilion from chance lo desliny, and
lhal's vhy il is so ¡eriIous and so burdened vilh
a kind of horrifying slage frighl. Moreover, lhe
decIaralion of Iove isn'l necessariIy a one-off, il
can be ¡rolracled, diffuse, confused, enlangIed,
slaled and re-slaled, and even deslined lo be
re-slaled yel again. Thal is lhe momenl vhen
chance is curbed, vhen you say lo yourseIf: I
musl leII lhe olher ¡erson aboul vhal ha¡¡ened,
aboul lhal encounler and lhe incidenls vilhin
lhe encounler. I viII leII lhe olher lhal somelhing
lhal commils me look ¡Iace, al Ieasl as I see il.
In a vord: I Iove you. If ´I Iove you¨ isn'l sim¡Iy
a ¡Ioy lo sIee¡ vilh somebody, vhich can be lhe
4 4
ALAI N BADI OU
case. If il isn'l a ¡Ioy, vhal is il` Whal's being
said lhere` Il isn'l al aII easy lo say ´I Iove you¨.
Thal smaII senlence is usuaIIy lhoughl lo be
com¡IeleIy meaningIess and banaI. Moreover,
¡eo¡Ie somelimes ¡refer lo use olher more ¡oelic,
Iess common¡Iace vords lo say ´I Iove you¨. ßul
vhal lhey are aIvays saying is: I shaII exlracl
somelhing eIse from vhal vas mere chance.
I'm going lo exlracl somelhing lhal viII endure,
somelhing lhal viII ¡ersisl, a commilmenl, a
fideIily. And here I am using lhe vord ´fideIily¨
vilhin my ovn ¡hiIoso¡hicaI |argon, slri¡¡ed of
ils usuaI connolalions. Il means ¡reciseIy lhal
lransilion from random encounler lo a conslruc-
lion lhal is resiIienl, as if il had been necessary.
|n inis ccnicxi, | ucu|! |ikc ic qucic jrcn inc tcrq
|cauiiju| ucrk |q An!rc Gcrz, Leller lo D., inc
!cc|araiicn cj |ctc na!c |q inc pni|cscpncr ic nis
uijc, Ocrinc, an! inc narraiicn cj a |ctc inai, ij |
4 5
I N P RAI 5E OF LOVE
naq saq sc, nas a|uaqs cn!urc!. iis cpcning |incs
arc, ´Ycu´|| sccn |c cigniq-iuc. Ycu natc snrunk
six ccniincircs, qcu cn|q ucign jcriq-jitc ki|cs qci
qcu arc as |cauiiju|, gracicus an! !csira||c as ctcr.
Wc natc ncu |itc! icgcincr jcr jijiq-cigni qcars an!
| |ctc qcu ncrc inan ctcr. |n inc nc||cu cj nq cncsi
| can jcc| again inai rataging cnpiincss inai can
cn|q |c ji||c! |q inc uarnin cj qcur |c!q againsi
ninc. ´ Wnai ncaning !c qcu gitc ic ji!c|iiq P
Isn'l lhe meaning of fideIily much broader lhan
lhe sim¡Ie ¡romise nol lo sIee¡ vilh someone eIse`
Doesn'l il in facl shov lhal lhe iniliaI ´I Iove you¨
is a commilmenl requiring no ¡arlicuIar conse-
cralion, lhe commilmenl lo conslrucl somelhing
lhal viII endure in order lo reIease lhe encounler
from ils randomness` MaIIarme sav a ¡oem as
´chance defealed vord by vord¨. In Iove, fideIily
signifies lhis exlended viclory: lhe randomness
of an encounler defealed day afler day lhrough
46
ALAI N BADI OU
lhe invenlion of vhal viII endure, lhrough lhe
birlh of a vorId. Why do ¡eo¡Ie so oflen say: I
viII aIvays Iove you` Irovided, of course, lhal il
isn'l a ¡Ioy. The moraIisls have naluraIIy mocked
lhal, saying il is never in facl lrue. IirslIy, il isn'l
lrue lhal il is never lrue. There are ¡eo¡Ie vho
aIvays Iove each olher, and a Iol more lhan you
mighl lhink or say.
Iverybody knovs lhal deciding lo break off
such Iove, ¡arlicuIarIy uniIaleraIIy, is aIvays
a disasler, vhalever lhe exceIIenl reasons ¡ul
forvard lo su¡¡orl such a move. I have onIy
once in my Iife given u¡ on a Iove. Il vas my firsl
Iove, and lhen graduaIIy I became so avare lhis
sle¡ had been a mislake lhal I lried lo recover
lhal iniliaI Iove, Iale, very Iale - lhe dealh of lhe
Ioved one vas a¡¡roaching - bul vilh a unique
inlensily and feeIing of necessily. SubsequenlIy,
I have never renounced a Iove. There have been
dramas and hearl vrenching and doubls, bul I
47
IN P RAI 5 E OF LOVE
have never again abandoned a Iove. And I feeI
reaIIy assured by lhe facl lhal lhe vomen I have
Ioved I have Ioved for aIvays. So I have ¡ersonaI
reasons for knoving lhal lhe sce¡lics' barb is far
from lhe lrulh. And secondIy if ´I Iove you¨ is
aIvays, in mosl res¡ecls, lhe heraIding of 'TiI
aIvays Iove you¨, il is in effecl Iocking chance
inlo lhe framevork of elernily. We shouIdn'l be
afraid of vords. The Iocking in of chance is an
anlici¡alion of elernily. And lo an exlenl, every
Iove slales lhal il is elernaI: il is assumed vilhin
lhe decIaralion...
The ¡robIem lhen resides in inscribing lhis
elernily vilhin lime. ßecause, basicaIIy, lhal
is vhal Iove is: a decIaralion of elernily lo be
fuIfiIIed or unfurIed as besl il can be vilhin lime:
elernily descending inlo lime. Thal's vhy il is
such an inlense feeIing. In lhe end, you knov, lhe
sce¡lics even make us Iaugh, because, if one lried
lo give u¡ Iove, lo slo¡ beIieving in il, il vouId
48
ALAI N BADI OU
be a genuine, sub|eclive disasler and everybody
knovs lhis. Life, one musl say, vouId become
very grey. So Iove remains ¡overfuI, sub|ecliveIy
¡overfuI: one of lhose rare ex¡eriences vhere,
on lhe basis of chance inscribed in a momenl,
you allem¡l a decIaralion of elernily. ´AIvays¨
is lhe vord used lo decIare elernily. ßecause you
cannol knov vhal lhal ´aIvays¨ means or hov
Iong il viII Iasl. ´AIvays¨ means ´elernaIIy¨. Il is
sim¡Iy a commilmenl vilhin lime, because you
have lo be a CIaudeI lo beIieve lhal Iove endures
beyond lime, in lhe fabuIous vorId of lhe afler-
Iife. ßul Iove, lhe essence of vhich is fideIily in
lhe meaning I give lo lhis vord, demonslrales
hov elernily can exisl vilhin lhe lime s¡an of
Iife ilseIf. Ha¡¡iness, in a vord! Yes, ha¡¡iness
in Iove is lhe ¡roof lhal lime can accommo-
dale elernily. And you can aIso find ¡roof in lhe
¡oIilicaI enlhusiasm you feeI vhen ¡arlici¡aling
in a revoIulionary acl, in lhe ¡Ieasure given by
P
vorks of arl and lhe aImosl su¡ernaluraI |oy you
ex¡erience vhen you al Iasl gras¡ in de¡lh lhe
meaning of a scienlific lheory.
Ici´s assunc inai |ctc is inc a!tcni cj Tuc as sucn,
inc ´Tuc sccnc¨. Wnai a|cui inc cni|!? Wcn´i a
cni|! a|icr cr cnangc inis ´Tuc sccnc¨? |sn´i nc inc
´Onc¨ unc ui|| |ring icgcincr inc ´Tuc¨ cj inc
|ctcrs, |ui a|sc a ´Tnrcc¨ unc can cxicn! qci a|sc
scparaic incn?
This is bolh a ¡rofound and inleresling queslion.
An erudile friend of mine, a ¡raclising }ev,
}erôme ßennaroch ¡arlIy acce¡ls my lhesis
aboul Iove. He aIvays leIIs me: yes, Iove is ¡roof
of Tvo, il is lheir decIaralion and elernily bul
lhere comes a momenl vhen Tvo musl ¡ass lheir
lesl in lhe order of One. Thal is, il musl relurn
lo One. The al once symboIic and reaI figure for
lhis One is lhe chiId. And Iove's lrue goaI remains
49
IN P RAI 5E OF LOVE
<5f+g/^i£>
50
ALAI N BADI OU
lhe exislence of lhe chiId as inc ex¡ression of lhe
One. I have chaIIenged his ob|eclion em¡iricaIIy
on a number of fronls, in ¡arlicuIar because il
vouId require lhe deniaI of lhe amorous nalure
of sleriIe cou¡Ies, of homosexuaIs, elc. Then, al
a dee¡er IeveI, I loId him: lhe chiId is indeed ¡arl
of lhe s¡ace marked oul by Iove, and as such
conslilules ´a ¡oinl¨ in lerms of my ovn |argon.
A ¡oinl, nameIy a ¡arlicuIar momenl around
vhich an evenl eslabIishes ilseIf, vhere il musl be
re-¡Iayed in some vay, as if il vere relurning in a
changed, dis¡Iaced form, bul one forcing you ´lo
decIare afresh¨. A ¡oinl, in effecl, comes vhen
lhe consequences of a conslruclion of a lrulh,
vhelher il be ¡oIilicaI, amorous, arlislic or scien-
lific, suddenIy com¡eIs you lo o¡l for a radicaI
choice, as if you vere back al lhe beginning,
vhen you acce¡led and decIared lhe evenl. Once
more you musl say, ´I acce¡l lhis chance, vanl
il and lake il on board¨. In lhe case of Iove, you
51
I N P R A I 5 E OF LOVE
musl, oflen very urgenlIy, re-make your decIara-
lion. You couId even say: you musl (re-)make lhe
¡oinl. And I lhink lhal's vhal a chiId, lhe desire
lo have a chiId, and lhe birlh is. Il forms ¡arl of
lhe ¡rocess of Iove, cIearIy, in lhe sha¡e of a ¡oinl
of su¡¡orl for Iove. We knov lhal a birlh, al once
a miracIe and a chaIIenge, is a lesl for aII cou¡Ies.
Il becomes necessary lo rede¡Ioy Tvo around lhe
chiId, ¡reciseIy because he is One. Tvo cannol
conlinue lo ex¡erience each olher in lhe vorId
as lhey did before lhey vere chaIIenged on lhis
¡oinl.
I don'l al aII deny lhal Iove is sequenliaI, in
olher vords, lhal il's nol aulonomous. There
are ¡oinls, lesls, lem¡lalions and nev a¡¡ear-
ances, and, each lime, you musl re¡Iay lhe
´Tvo scene¨, find lhe lerms for a nev decIara-
lion. Afler lhe iniliaI decIaralion, Iove loo musl
aIso be ´re-slaled¨. And lhal is vhy Iove is aIso
lhe source of vioIenl exislenliaI crises. Like aII
<5ª!g/^IcP
52
A L A I N B A D I O U
¡rocesses invoIving lhe search for lrulh. Irom
lhis ¡ers¡eclive, moreover, lhere is aIso a slriking
simiIarily belveen ¡oIilics and Iove.
LOVE AND POLITIC5
V
Wnai is inc rc|aiicnsnip |ciuccn pc|iiics an! |ctc?
|s ii inai pc|iiics a|sc intc|tcs ctcnis, !cc|araiicns
an! ji!c|iiics?
In my viev ¡oIilics conslilules a lrulh ¡rocedure,
bul one lhal cenlres on lhe coIIeclive. I mean lhal
¡oIilicaI aclion lesls oul lhe lrulh of vhal lhe
coIIeclive is ca¡abIe of achieving. Ior exam¡Ie,
can il embrace equaIily` Can il inlegrale vhal is
helerogeneous` Can il acce¡l lhal lhere is onIy
one vorId` Things of lhis kind. The essence of
¡oIilics can be subsumed in lhe queslion: vhal
are individuaIs ca¡abIe of vhen lhey meel,
54
A L A I N B A D I O U
organize, lhink and lake decisions` In Iove, il
is aboul lvo ¡eo¡Ie being abIe lo handIe differ-
ence and make il crealive. In ¡oIilics, il is aboul
finding oul vhelher a number of ¡eo¡Ie, a mass
of ¡eo¡Ie in facl, can creale equaIily. And |usl as
lhe famiIy exisls al lhe IeveI of Iove lo sociaIize
ils im¡acl, al lhe IeveI of ¡oIilics lhe ¡over of
lhe Slale exisls lo re¡ress ils enlhusiasms. The
same ¡rickIy reIalion exisls belveen ¡oIilics as a
¡raclicaI, coIIeclive vay of lhinking lhrough lhe
issue of ¡over vilh lhe Slale as lhe inslrumenl
for ils managemenl and reguIalion, and lhe issue
of Iove vilh lhe unbridIed invenlion of Tvo and
lhe famiIy as lhe fundamenlaI unil of ovnershi¡
and egolism.
IssenliaIIy, if you ¡Iay vilh lhe vord ´slale¨
you couId define lhe famiIy as lhe Slale of Iove.
Ior exam¡Ie, vhen you ¡arlici¡ale in a ¡oIilicaI
mass movemenl you ex¡erience lhe very signifi-
canl lension belveen lhe queslion, ´vhal is
I N P RAI 5 E OF LOVE
<¯cc¯£>
55
lhe coIIeclive ca¡abIe of`¨ and lhe ¡over and
aulhorily of lhe Slale. The u¡shol is lhal lhe
Slale is aImosl aIvays aboul lhe belrayaI of
¡oIilicaI ho¡e. ShouId I nov asserl lhal lhe famiIy
is aIvays aboul lhe belrayaI of Iove` Il is cIear
lhal lhe queslion has lo be asked. The vay I see
il, il onIy im¡acls ¡oinl by ¡oinl, and decision by
decision. There is lhe ¡oinl of sexuaI invenlion,
of chiIdren, of vork, of friends, of nighls oul, of
hoIidays, of vhalever. And reslricling aII lhese
¡oinls lo lhe remil of lhe decIaralion of Iove is
no slraighlforvard maller. SimiIarIy in ¡oIilics,
lhere are lhe ¡oinls of slale ¡over, fronliers,
Iavs and lhe ¡oIice and il is never easy lo kee¡
lhem vilhin an o¡en, egaIilarian, revoIulionary
¡oIilicaI framevork.
In bolh cases, ve have ¡oinl-by-¡oinl
¡rocesses and lhey formed lhe basis of my
argumenl againsl my reIigious friend. Don'l
mislake lhe ex¡erience for lhe finaI aim. IoIilics
56
A L A I N B A D I O U
can ¡robabIy never be reaIised vilhoul lhe slale,
bul lhal doesn'l mean lhal ¡over is ils goaI. Ils
goaI is lo discover vhal lhe coIIeclive is ca¡abIe
of, nol ¡over ilseIf. SimiIarIy, in Iove, lhe aim is
lo ex¡erience lhe vorId from lhe ¡oinl of viev
of difference, ¡oinl by ¡oinl, and nol sim¡Iy
lo ensure lhe re¡roduclion of lhe s¡ecies. A
sce¡licaI moraIisl viII find |uslificalion for his
¡essimism in lhe famiIy, as ¡roof lhal, in lhe
end, Iove is sim¡Iy a ¡Ioy lo ensure lhe re¡roduc-
lion of lhe s¡ecies and sociely's ¡Ioy lo ensure
¡riviIeges are inheriled. ßul I von'l acce¡l his
¡ro¡osilion. Nor viII I acce¡l my friend ßenna-
roch's viev lhal Iove's s¡Iendid crealion of lhe
¡over of Tvo is duly bound lo genufIecl before
lhe ma|esly of One.
Wnq incn can´i qcu cntisagc a ´pc|iiics cj |ctc¨,
jusi as jacqucs Ocrri!a cui|inc! a ´pc|iiics cj
jricn!snip'`®
57
I N P R A I 5 E OF LOVE
I don'l lhink lhal you can mix u¡ Iove and
¡oIilics. In my o¡inion, lhe ´¡oIilics of Iove¨ is a
meaningIess ex¡ression. I lhink lhal vhen you
begin lo say ´Love one anolher¨, lhal can Iead lo
a kind of elhics, bul nol lo any kind of ¡oIilics.
Irinci¡aIIy because lhere are ¡eo¡Ie in ¡oIilics
one doesn'l Iove... Thal's undeniabIe. Nobody
can ex¡ecl us lo Iove lhem.
Sc un|ikc |ctc, pc|iiics is a|| a|cui a ccnjrcniaiicn
|ciuccn cncnics?
WeII, you knov, Iook, in Iove, al lhe absoIule
difference lhal exisls belveen lvo individuaIs, one
of lhe biggesl differences one can imagine, given
lhal il is an infinile difference, yel an encounler,
./0&'1!$23245'!"'6-2&7(50289 Jacqucs Dcrrida, trans. Gcnrgc Cn!!ins (Vcrsn,
2005). 5cc a!sn 6-2&7(50289 Ginrgin Agambcn, trans. David Kishik
and 5tcIan Pcdatc!!a, in "What is an Apparatus?" and nthcr cssays
(5tanInrd Univcrsity Prcss, 2009) and by thc samc authnr, :);+<-&
(&'$ )*+!,-=' :&' 4!74&83'()*+!,-'40&>'?&2(&%%&-9 Paynt & Rivagcs, 2003.
A L A I N B AD I O U
a decIaralion and fideIily can lransform lhal
inlo a crealive exislence. Nolhing of lhe sorl can
ha¡¡en in ¡oIilics in lerms of lhe basic conlra-
diclions, lhe u¡shol being lhal in effecl lhere
are cIearIy designaled enemies. A cenlraI issue
in ¡oIilicaI lhoughl is lhe queslion of enemies
and il is very difficuIl lo deaI vilh loday, in ¡arl
because of lhe democralic framevork vilhin
vhich ve o¡erale. The issue is: do enemies exisl`
I mean by lhal, reaI enemies. A reaI enemy is
nol someone you are resigned lo see lake ¡over
¡eriodicaIIy because Iols of ¡eo¡Ie voled for him.
Thal is a ¡erson you are annoyed lo see as head
of Slale because you vouId have ¡referred his
adversary. And you viII vail your lurn, for five
or len years or more. An enemy is somelhing
eIse: an individuaI you von'l loIerale laking
decisions on anylhing lhal im¡acls on yourseIf.
So do reaI enemies exisl or nol` Thal shouId be
our slarling-¡oinl.
I N P R A I 5 E OF LOVE
Il is an exlremeIy im¡orlanl issue in ¡oIilics
and one ve are loo quick lo ¡ush lo one side. The
issue of lhe enemy is com¡IeleIy foreign lo lhe
queslion of Iove. In Iove, you can find hurdIes, be
haunled by immanenl dramas, bul lhere are in
facl, no enemies. One mighl ob|ecl: vhal aboul
my rivaI` The ¡erson my Iover ¡refers lo me`
WeII, lhal is an enlireIy lolaIIy differenl maller.
In ¡oIilics, lhe slruggIe againsl lhe enemy consli-
lules lhe aclion. The enemy forms ¡arl of lhe
essence öf ¡oIilics. Genuine ¡oIilics idenlifies ils
reaI enemy. Hovever, lhe rivaI remains absoIuleIy
exlernaI, he isn'l ¡arl of lhe definilion of Iove.
, On lhis ¡oinl I disagree ¡rofoundIy vilh aII lhose
vho lhink lhal |eaIousy is a consliluenl eIemenl
of Iove. The mosl briIIianl re¡resenlalive of lhe
Ialler is Irousl, for vhom |eaIousy is lhe reaI,
inlense, demonic conlenl of amorous sub|ec-
livily. In my o¡inion, lhis is sim¡Iy a varianl of
lhe lhesis of lhe sce¡licaI moraIisls. }eaIousy is
ALAI N BADI OU
<n^>
60
a fake ¡arasile lhal feeds on Iove and doesn'l al
aII heI¡ lo define il. Musl every Iove idenlify an
exlernaI rivaI before il can decIare ilseIf, before
il can begin` No vay! The reverse is lhe case:
lhe immanenl difficuIlies of Iove, lhe inlerfiaI
conlradiclions of lhe Tvo scene can cryslaI-
Iize around a lhird ¡arly, a rivaI, imagined or
reaI. The difficuIlies Iove harbours don'l slem
from lhe exislence of an enemy vho has been
idenlified. They are inlernaI lo lhe ¡rocess: lhe
crealive ¡Iay of difference. SeIfishness, nol any
rivaI, is Iove's enemy. One couId say: my Iove's
main enemy, lhe one I musl defeal, is nol lhe
olher, il is myseIf, lhe ´myseIf¨ lhal ¡refers
idenlily lo difference, lhal ¡refers lo im¡ose ils
vorId againsl lhe vorId re-conslrucled lhrough
lhe fiIler of difference.
Ictc can a|sc |c uar..
61
I N P R A I 5 E OF LOVE
We musl bear in mind lhal, Iike many ¡rocesses
for finding lhe lrulh, lhe ¡rocess of Iove isn'l
aIvays ¡eacefuI. Il can bring vioIenl argumenl,
genuine anguish and se¡aralions ve may or may
nol overcome. We shouId recognize lhal il is one
of lhe mosl ¡ainfuI ex¡eriences in lhe sub|eclive
Iife of an individuaI! Thal is vhy some ¡eo¡Ie
¡romole lheir ´com¡rehensive insurance¨ ¡ro¡a-
ganda. I have aIready menlioned lhal ¡eo¡Ie die
because of Iove. There are murders and suicides
¡rom¡led by Iove. In facl, al ils ovn IeveI, Iove is
nol necessariIy any more ¡eacefuI lhan revoIu-
lionary ¡oIilics. A lrulh is nol somelhing lhal is
conslrucled in a garden of roses. Never! Love has
ils ovn agenda of conlradiclions and vioIence.
ßul lhe difference is lhal in ¡oIilics ve reaIIy have
lo engage vilh our enemies, vhereas in Iove il is
aII aboul dramas, immanenl, inlernaI dramas
lhal don'l reaIIy define any enemies, lhough
lhey do somelimes ¡Iace lhe drive for idenlily
62
A L A I N B A D I O U
inlo confIicl vilh difference. Dramas in Iove are
lhe shar¡esl ex¡erience of lhe confIicl belveen
idenlily and difference.
|tcn sc, isn´i ii ai a|| pcssi||c ic |ring |ctc an!
pc|iiics icgcincr uiincui !csccn!ing inic inc
ncra|izing cj a pc|iiics cj |ctc?
There are lvo ¡oIilicaI, or ¡hiIoso¡hicaI-¡oIil-
icaI nolions one can com¡are al a ¡ureIy formaI
IeveI lo lhe diaIeclics ¡resenl vilhin Iove. IirslIy,
lhe vord ´communism¨ encom¡asses lhis idea
lhal lhe coIIeclivily is ca¡abIe of inlegraling
aII exlra¡oIilicaI differences. Ieo¡Ie shouIdn'l
be ¡revenled from ¡arlici¡aling in a ¡oIilicaI
¡rocess of a communisl ly¡e sim¡Iy because lhey
are lhis or lhal, or vere born here or come from
eIsevhere, or s¡eak such and such a Ianguage,
or vere fashioned by such and such a cuIlure, in
lhe same vay lhal idenlilies in lhemseIves aren'l
I N P RAI 5 E OF LOVE
fl¡
hurdIes lo lhe crealion of Iove. OnIy ¡oIilicaI
difference vilh lhe enemy is ´irreconciIabIe¨
as Marx said. And lhal has no equivaIenl in
lhe ¡rocess of Iove. And lhen lhere is lhe vord
´fralernily¨. ´Iralernily¨ is lhe mosl o¡aque of
lhe lhree lerms in lhe Re¡ubIican mollo. We can
argue aboul ´freedom¨, bul ve knov vhal lhal's
aboul. We can ¡rovide a fairIy accurale definilion
of vhal ´equaIily¨ invoIves. ßul vhal on earlh is
´fralernily¨` No doubl il is reIaled lo lhe issue of
differences, of lheir friendIy co-¡resence vilhin
lhe ¡oIilicaI ¡rocess, lhe essenliaI boundary being
lhe confronlalion vilh lhe enemy. And lhal is a
nolion lhal can be covered by inlernalionaIism,
because, if lhe coIIeclive can reaIIy lake equaIily
on board, lhal means il can aIso inlegrale lhe
mosl exlensive divergences and grealIy Iimil lhe
¡over of idenlily.
A L A I N B A D I O U
Ai inc |cginning cj cur !ia|cguc, qcu spckc cj
Cnrisiianiiq as a ´rc|igicn cj |ctc´. Ici´s ncu jccus
cn inc ataiars cj |ctc uiinin inc grcai i!cc|cgics. |n
qcur ticu, ncu !i! Cnrisiianiiq nanagc ic capiurc
inc cxiracr!inarq pcucr inai |ctc nas?
In lhis res¡ecl, I lhink lhal }udaism quile ¡re¡ared
lhe vay for Chrislianily. The ¡resence of Iove in
lhe OId Teslamenl is significanl, bolh in lerms
of ¡rescri¡lions and descri¡lions. Whalever ils
lheoIogicaI im¡orl, lhe song of Iove lhal is The
Song of Songs is one of lhe mosl ¡overfuI ceIe-
bralions of Iove ever vrillen. Chrislianily ilseIf
is lhe finesl exam¡Ie of lhe use of Iove's inlensily
lovards a lranscendenlaI conce¡lion of lhe
universaI. Chrislianily says: if you Iove each
olher, lhe vhoIe of lhis Ioving communily viII
a¡¡roach lhe uIlimale founl of aII Iove lhal is
divine lranscendence ilseIf. Il inlroduces lhe idea
lhal lhe acce¡lance of lhe ex¡erience of Iove, of
65
I N P R A I 5 E OF LOVE
lhe ex¡erience of lhe olher, of lhe gaze raised
lovards lhe olher, conlribules lo lhis su¡reme
Iove lhal is bolh lhe Iove ve ove lo God and lhe
Iove lhal God brings lo us. And, of course, lhal
is a slroke of genius! Chrislianily has managed
lo ca¡lure on behaIf of ils Church - ils avalar
of lhe slale - lhis ¡over lhal has enabIed il, for
exam¡Ie, lo achieve lhe acce¡lance of suffering
in lhe name of lhe su¡reme inleresls of lhe
communily and nol |usl on behaIf of individuaI
survivaI.
Chrislianily gras¡ed ¡erfeclIy lhal lhere
is an eIemenl in lhe a¡¡arenl conlingency of
Iove lhal can'l be reduced lo lhal conlingency.
ßul il immedialeIy raised il lo lhe IeveI of lran-
scendence, and lhal is lhe rool of lhe ¡robIem.
This universaI eIemenl I loo recognize in Iove
as immanenl. ßul Chrislianily has somehov
managed lo eIevale il and refocus il onlo a lran-
scendenl ¡over. Il's an ideaI lhal vas aIready
A L A I N B AD I O U
¡arlIy ¡resenl in IIalo, lhrough lhe idea of lhe
Good. Il is a briIIianl firsl mani¡uIalion of lhe
¡over of Iove and one ve musl nov bring back
lo earlh. I mean ve musl demonslrale lhal Iove
reaIIy does have universaI ¡over, bul lhal il is
sim¡Iy lhe o¡¡orlunily ve are given lo en|oy
a ¡osilive, crealive, affirmalive ex¡erience of
difference. The Olher, no doubl, bul vilhoul lhe
´AImighly-Olher¨, vilhoul lhe ´Greal Olher¨ of
lranscendence. In lhe finaI anaIysis, reIigions
don'l s¡eak of Iove. ßecause lhey are onIy inler-
esled in il as a source of inlensily, in lhe sub|ec-
live slale il aIone can creale, in order lo direcl
lhal inlensily lovards failh and lhe Church and
encourage lhis sub|eclive slale lo acce¡l lhe
sovereignly of God. The main oulcome is lhal
Chrislianily subslilules devoul, ¡assive, defer-
enliaI Iove for lhe combalive Iove I am ¡raising
here, lhal earlhIy crealion of lhe differenlialed
birlh of a nev vorId and a ha¡¡iness von ¡oinl
67
I N P R A I 5 E OF LOVE
by ¡oinl. Love on bended knee is no Iove al aII
as far as I am concerned, even if Iove somelimes
arouses ¡assion in us lhal makes us yieId lo lhe
Ioved one.
Ycu natc ucrkc! uiin Anicinc Viicz, ncia||q uncn
nc uas prcparing nis jancus prc!uciicn cj Pau|
C|au!cVs The Salin SIi¡¡er. Occs inc nc!iiaiicn
cn |ctc |q inc auincr cj The ßreak of Noon, inai
is sc in|uc! uiin Cnrisiianiiq, natc anqining ic
saq ic pccp|c ncua!aqs unc arc ncsi|q nc |cngcr
Cnrisiian?
CIaudeI is a greal dramalisl of Iove. Tnc Saiin
S|ippcr and Tnc Brcak cj Nccn are vhoIIy devoled
lo lhis lheme. Hovever, vhal is lhere in CIaudeI
lhal can inleresl us nov lhal ve are no Ionger
direclIy slirred by lhe communion of lhe sainls,
revards for good deeds and saIvalion in lhe afler-
Iife` I can onIy lhink of lhal senlence al lhe end
Ö*| §/^ÄP
A L A I N B A D I O U
of Tnc Brcak cj Nccn: ´Iar a¡arl, lhough never
ceasing lo burden each olher, viII ve have lo
bear our slrife-ridden souIs`¨ CIaudeI is ¡arlicu-
IarIy sensilive lo lhe facl lhal lrue Iove is aIvays
overcoming lhe im¡ossibIe: ´Iar a¡arl, lhough
never ceasing lo burden each olher...¨ SlriclIy
s¡eaking, Iove isn'l a ¡ossibiIily, bul ralher lhe
overcoming of somelhing lhal mighl a¡¡ear
lo be im¡ossibIe. Somelhing exisls lhal had no
reason lo, vhich vas never offered lo you as a
¡ossibiIily. Thal's aIso anolher reason vhy lhe
inlernel daling hy¡e is faIIacious. Il vorks on lhe
assum¡lion lhal you are going lo reviev aII lhe
¡ossibiIilies on offer and lake lhe besl, in order lo
en|oy safe Iove. ßul Iife's nol Iike lhal! Il's nol Iike
lhe slories vhere lhe ¡relenders come queueing.
Love begins vhen somelhing im¡ossibIe is
overcome, and vilh lhe lheme of lhe forbidden
voman CIaudeI is a greal ¡oel of lhe im¡ossibIe,
Al lhe same lime in CIaudeI, lhe dice are aIvays
69
I N P R A I 5 E OF LOVE
sIighlIy Ioaded, since vhal's im¡ossibIe is reIalive
because il is lerreslriaI. I lhink he has lvo ´Tvo
scenes¨ ralher lhan one. The firsl is lhe ex¡eri-
ence of Iove's im¡ossibiIily on earlh. The second
is vhen Tvo are reconciIed in lhe universe of lhe
failh.
Il is fascinaling lo foIIov lhrough lhe magnif-
icenl ¡oelic mechanisms he uses lo enabIe lhe
¡over of lhe firsl scene lo enrich lhe second.
Thal is vhal Chrislianily is aboul. Il ¡romoles
ilseIf lhrough lhe earlhIy ¡over of Iove by
saying: ´Yes, cerlain lhings are im¡ossibIe even
lhough il's so ¡overfuI, bul nol lo vorry because
vhal's im¡ossibIe dovn here isn'l necessariIy
so in lhe afler-Iife.¨ Very basic bul very ¡olenl
¡ro¡aganda.
Tnis uisn ic |ring |ctc !cun ic carin, ic nctc
jrcn iransccn!cncc ic innancncc, uas ccnira| ic
nisicrica| ccnnunisn. |n unai uaq nigni inc
70
A L A I N B A D I O U
rcaciitaiing cj inc Ccnnunisi nqpcincsis |c a uaq
ic rc-intcni |ctc?
I referred earIier lo vhal I lhink of lhese ¡oIilicaI
uses of lhe vord ´Iove¨, and hov lhey are as
misguided as reIigious uses. NeverlheIess, here
loo ve are deaIing, quile remarkabIy, vilh a
lranscendenl force lhal is gras¡ing lhe ¡over
of Iove. Il is nol God any Ionger, bul lhe Iarly,
and lhrough lhe Iarly, ils su¡reme Ieader. The
ex¡ression ´lhe cuIl of lhe ¡ersonaIily¨ sums
u¡ lhis kind of coIIeclive lransfer of Iove lo a
¡oIilicaI figure. Ioels have |oined in: Iook al
IIuard's canlicIes lo SlaIin, Aragon's hymns lo
lhe relurn of Maurice Thorez lo Irance afler
his iIIness... I find lhe cuIl of lhe Iarly as such
even more inleresling. There again, Aragon is
sym¡lomalic: ´My Iarly broughl lhe coIours
of Irance back lo me¨, elc. We immedialeIy see
Iove being moduIaled. Whelher vrillen for lhe
71
I N P R A I 5 E OF LOVE
Iarly or his Iover, IIsa TrioIel, lhe vords are very
simiIar. Il is inslruclive lo see hov lhe ¡arly lhal
one mighl have lhoughl vas sim¡Iy a lransilory
inslrumenl for lhe emanci¡alion of lhe vorking
and ¡o¡uIar cIasses lhus becomes a felish. I don'l
vanl lo make fun of any of lhal: il vas an era
of ¡oIilicaI ¡assion lhal ve can'l conlinue, lhal
ve musl nov viev crilicaIIy, bul il vas inlense
and counled ils failhfuI in lheir miIIions. Whal
ve musl say, as Iove is our lheme, is lhal Iove
and ¡oIilicaI ¡assion shouId never be confused.
The ¡robIem ¡oIilics confronls is lhe conlroI
of halred, nol of Iove. And halred is a ¡assion
lhal aImosl inevilabIy ¡oses lhe queslion of lhe
enemy. In olher vords, in ¡oIilics, vhere enemies
do exisl, one roIe of lhe organizalion, vhalever
lhal may be, is lo conlroI, indeed lo deslroy, lhe
consequences of halred. Thal doesn'l mean il
musl ´¡reach Iove¨, bul a ma|or inleIIecluaI
chaIIenge il faces is lo ¡rovide lhe mosl Iimiled,
72
A L A I N B A D I O U
¡recise definilion ¡ossibIe of lhe ¡oIilicaI enemy.
And nol, as vas lhe case lhroughoul aImosl lhe
vhoIe of lhe Iasl cenlury, lhe vaguesl, mosl far-
reaching definilion imaginabIe.
Wcu|! ii |c |ciicr ic scparaic |ctc jrcn pc|iiics?
A Iarge svalhe of conlem¡orary lhoughl slrives
lo se¡arale vhal has been vrongfuIIy broughl
logelher. In lhe same vay lhal lhe definilion of
lhe enemy musl be conlroIIed, Iimiled, reduced
lo a minimum, Iove, as a singuIar advenlure in
lhe quesl for lrulh aboul difference, musl aIso be
rigorousIy se¡araled from ¡oIilics. When I laIk
of lhe Communisl hy¡olhesis, I sim¡Iy vanl lo
suggesl lhal fulure forms of lhe ¡oIilics of eman-
ci¡alion musl be inscribed in a resurreclion, a
re-affirmalion, of lhe Communisl idea, lhe idea
of a vorId lhal isn'l given over lo lhe avarice of
¡rivale ¡ro¡erly, a vorId of free associalion and
73
I N P R A I 5 E OF LOVE
equaIily. To lhal end, ve can drav on nev ¡hiIo-
so¡hicaI looIs and a good number of IocaIised
¡oIilicaI ex¡eriences, vhere lhere has been inno-
valive lhinking. In such a framevork, il viII be
easier lo re-invenl Iove lhan if surrounded by
ca¡ilaIisl frenzy. ßecause ve can be sure lhal
nolhing disinleresled can be al ease amid such
frenzy. And Iove, Iike any ¡rocess in lhe search for
lrulh, is essenliaIIy disinleresled: ils vaIue resides
in ilseIf aIone and goes beyond lhe immediale
inleresls of lhe lvo individuaIs invoIved. The
meaning of lhe vord ´communism¨ doesn'l
immedialeIy reIale lo Iove. NonelheIess, lhe vord
brings vilh il nev ¡ossibiIilies for Iove.
Tncrc is ancincr pcssi||c !incnsicn ic inc ataiars
cj |ctc uiinin a Ccnnunisi pc|iiics. Tncsc arc |ctc
sicrics inai arc |ui|i againsi a |ackgrcun! cj sirikcs
an! cincr sccia| nctcncnis. Ycu cjicn cnpnasizc
inis !incnsicn, sincc ii a||cus inc iransgrcssicn cj
74
A L A I N B A D I O U
|ctc ic a||q iisc|j uiin inc pc|iiica| iransgrcssicn cj
inc ncncni Wnai is inc spccijiciiq cj incsc |ctcs
in sirugg|c?
I am ¡arlicuIarIy sensilive lo lhis as¡ecl of lhings
because I have devoled a considerabIe ¡arl of
my vriling as a noveIisl and dramalisl lo lhe
sub|ecl. In my ¡Iay V|cnarpc |cugc, lhe slory
mainIy concerns lhe dislanl Ioves of a brolher
and sisler in aII lhe incarnalions of a huge
¡oIilicaI movemenl lhal invoIves vars of Iibera-
lion, slrikes, mass-meelings... In my noveI Ca|nc
||cc ici-|as - vhich foIIovs lhe formaI slruclure
of Hugo's Ics Miscra||cs - lhe revoIulionary
fresco encom¡asses lhe Iove of a Shi'ile vorker,
Ahmed Aazami, for a lerrorisl, IIisabelh CalheIy,
lhen, lhal of IIisabelh's son, Simon, ado¡led by
Ahmed afler lhe lerrorisl's dealh, for CIaude
Ogasavara, lhe ¡oel and daughler of a Ieading
reaclionary. In aII lhese inslances, my inlenlion
I N P R A I 5 E OF LOVE
isn'l lo highIighl lhe simiIarily belveen Iove and
revoIulionary commilmenl, bul lhe kind of secrel
resonance lhal is crealed, in lhe mosl inlimale
individuaI ex¡erience, belveen lhe inlensily Iife
acquires vhen a hundred ¡er cenl commilled lo
a ¡arlicuIar Idea and lhe quaIilaliveIy dislincl
inlensily generaled by lhe slruggIe vilh differ-
ence in Iove. Il is Iike lvo musicaI inslrumenls
lhal are com¡IeleIy differenl in lone and voIume,
bul vhich mysleriousIy converge vhen unified
by a greal musician in lhe same vork. I vouId
Iike lo make a quaIified reveIalion here. I have
inscribed in lhese vorks a baIance sheel of my
Iife in lhe ´red years¨ belveen May '68 and lhe
Iighlies. Thal is lhe ¡eriod vhen I deveIo¡ed
lhe ¡oIilicaI conviclion I have remained im¡Ia-
cabIy IoyaI lo and for vhich ´communism¨ is
one ¡ossibIe name. ßul I lhen equaIIy slruclured
my fulure Iife around ¡rocesses of Iove lhal vere
by and Iarge definilive. Whal came Ialer, of lhe
76
A L A I N B A D I O U
same order, vas iIIuminaled by lhal ins¡ira-
lion and ils enduring nalure. In ¡arlicuIar, as I
have aIready menlioned, conviclion in Iove and
¡oIilics, somelhing one musl never renounce.
Thal vas reaIIy lhe momenl vhen, in belveen
¡oIilics and Iove, my Iife found lhe musicaI chord
lhal ensured ils harmony.
LOVE AND ART
VI
|n The Cenlury, qcu !iscuss an An!rc Brcicn
icxi, Arcanum 17, an! sncu ncu inc iucniicin
ccniurq uas a grcai cra jcr inc prcnciicn cj |ctc as
a nciapncr jcr iruin. Bui unai !ccs An!rc Brcicn
ncan uncn in SoIubIe Iish, nc uisncs ic rc!ucc
´ari ic iis sinp|csi cxprcssicn, nanc|q, |ctc´?¯
The cenlraI SurreaIisl ¡ro|ecl vas lhe one
ve menlioned al lhe very beginning, nameIy,
foIIoving Rimbaud's in|unclion, lo re-invenl
Iove. And for lhe SurreaIisls lhis re-invenlion vas
.@2'A!,5'*2+&>'$ )*+!,-==='B730!$!%2&'*+!,-&,5&'(,'5,--C*$25+& cditcd by
Vinccnt Gi!!c, with a prcIacc by Annic Lc Brun, 5y!!cpsc, 2001.
A L A I N B A D I O U
indissoIubIy an arlislic, exislenliaI and ¡oIilicaI
move. They didn'l make any divisions belveen lhe
lhree. Arl has a very ¡overfuI ¡oinl, in lhe sense
lhal il does |uslice lo evenls. Thal couId even be a
¡ossibIe definilion of arl: arl is vhal, al lhe IeveI
of lhoughl, does com¡Iele |uslice lo lhe evenl.
In ¡oIilics, evenls are ordered by hislory in relro-
s¡ecl. ßul arl is aIone in resloring or allem¡ling
lo reslore com¡IeleIy lheir inlense ¡over. OnIy
arl reslores lhe dimension of lhe senses lo an
encounler, an insurreclion or a riol. Arl, in aII
ils forms, is a greal refIeclion on lhe evenl as
such. A greal ¡ainling is lhe ca¡lure by ils ovn
means of somelhing lhal cannol be reduced lo
vhal il dis¡Iays. The Ialenl evenl emerges and,
ve mighl say, breaks lhrough vhal you can see.
ßrelon reminds us, from lhis ¡oinl of viev, lhal
arl is very cIoseIy Iinked lo Iove, since lhe Ialler
is basicaIIy lhe momenl vhen an evenl breaks
lhrough exislence. This ex¡Iains ´I'amour fou¨.
79
I N P R A I 5 E OF LOVE
Love cannol be reduced lo any Iav. There is no
Iav of Iove.
Whal's more, arl has oflen demonslraled lhe
asociaI side of Iove. As lhe ¡o¡uIar saying goes,
afler aII, ´Iovers are on lheir ovn in lhis vorId¨.
They aIone ¡ossess lhal difference by vhich lhey
ex¡erience lhe vorId. SurreaIism exaIls Tamour
fou¨ as lhe ¡over of an evenl lhal is beyond any
Iav. The lhinking ins¡ired by Iove is aIso lhinking
lhal is crealed againsl aII order, againsl lhe
¡overfuI order of lhe Iav. The SurreaIisls found
here a source of nourishmenl for lheir desire for
a ¡oelic revoIulion in Ianguage bul aIso, I shouId
em¡hasise, in exislence. Irom lhis ¡oinl of viev,
lhey vere very inleresled in Iove and in sexuaIily,
as a ¡rinci¡Ie, as ¡olenliaI su¡¡orl for a revoIulion
in exislence. ConverseIy, lhey had IillIe inleresl in
lhal vhich endured. Above aII, lhey cham¡ioned
Iove as a magnificenl ¡oem of lhe encounler.
Ior exam¡Ie, in Na!ja, vhich is a s¡Iendid
80
A L A I N B AD I OU
iIIuslralion of lhe ¡oelics of lhe uncerlain and
myslerious encounler lhal round lhe slreel-
corner viII become Tamour fou¨. The ¡ure
encounler is lhe com¡Iele o¡¡osile of anylhing
lhal is ¡remedilaled, bul nol al lhe IeveI of vhal
endures, or in any elernaI dimension. Hovever,
some ¡hiIoso¡hers have mainlained lhal elernily
is lhe momenl. We aIready find lhis idea in Greek
lhoughl. The onIy lem¡oraI dimension ¡ossibIe
for elernily vas lhe momenl. Thal vouId su¡¡orl
ßrelon. NaluraIIy, lhe momenl of lhe miracuIous
encounler ¡romises lhe elernily of Iove, lhough
vhal I vanl lo suggesl is a conce¡l of Iove lhal
is Iess miracuIous and more hard vork, nameIy
a conslruclion of elernily vilhin lime, of lhe
ex¡erience of lhe Tvo, ¡oinl by ¡oinl. I go aIong
vilh lhe miracIe of lhe encounler, bul I lhink
il remains confined vilhin SurreaIisl ¡oelics
if il is isoIaled, if ve don'l channeI il lovards
lhe onerous deveIo¡menl of a lrulh lhal is
81
I N P R A I 5 E OF LOVE
conslrucled ¡oinl by ¡oinl. ´Onerous¨ musl be
laken here as somelhing ¡osilive. There is a vork
of Iove: il is nol sim¡Iy a miracIe. You musl be in
lhe breech, on guard: you musl be al one vilh
yourseIf and lhe olher. You mosl lhink, acl and
change. And lhen, sureIy, ha¡¡iness foIIovs, as
lhe immanenl revard for aII lhal vork.
| jin! ii sirangc inai qcu ccnsiani|q rcjcr ic Sanuc|
Bcckcii in rcspcci cj |ctc. Onc can nar!|q saq inai
Bcckcii´s ucrk is jccusc! cn nappincss. |n unai
uaq !ccs nis ucrk, janc! jcr iis nini|isn an!
pcssinisn, ucrk, in qcur ticu, icuar!s inai ´Tuc
sccnc¨ inai is |ctc?
As I've said, lhe Iileralure on Iove conlains very
IillIe in lerms of lhe ex¡erience of ils endurance
over lime. Thal's very slriking. Take lhe lhealre
for exam¡Ie. If you valch ¡Iays lhal shov lhe
slruggIes of young Iovers againsl lhe des¡olism
82
A L A I N B A D I O U
of lhe famiIy universe - a cIassic lheme - you
couId give lhem aII as sub-lilIe Marivaux's Tnc
Triunpn cj Ictc. In lhis vein, many ¡Iays reIale
hov lhese young ¡eo¡Ie, oflen heI¡ed by vaIels
or olher accom¡Iices, give lhe oId ¡arenls lhe run
around and finaIIy gel vhal lhey vanl, nameIy
marriage. Il's lhe lrium¡h of Iove, bul nol ils
duralion. Thal is ¡reciseIy vhal you mighl caII
¡Iolling lhe encounler. Im¡orlanl vorks, greal
noveIs, are oflen buiIl around lhe im¡ossibiIily
of Iove, ils being ¡ul lo lhe lesl, ils lragedy, ils
vaning, ils se¡aralion, end, elc. ßul lhere is very
IillIe on il Iasling ¡osiliveIy. We couId even say
married Iife has hardIy ¡roduced a greal vork. Il
is a facl lhal il has rareIy ins¡ired arlisls.
Hovever, il is ¡reciseIy in lhe vriling of
ßeckell, lhal renovned chronicIer of des¡air,
of lhe im¡ossibIe, lhal ve find somelhing very
a¡¡osile: he is aIso a vriler of lhe obslinacy of
Iove. Take for exam¡Ie lhe ¡Iay Happq Oaqs, lhe
83
I N P R A I 5 E OF LOVE
slory of an oId cou¡Ie. You onIy see lhe voman,
lhe man is cravIing off-slage, everylhing is
degeneraling, she's in lhe ¡rocess of sinking
inlo lhe ground, bul she says: ´Whal ha¡¡y
days lhey vere!¨ And she says lhal because Iove
is sliII lhere. Love is lhe ¡overfuI, unchanging
eIemenl lhal has slruclured her a¡¡arenlIy
calaslro¡hic exislence. Love is lhe hidden ¡over
vilhin lhal calaslro¡he. In a s¡Iendid shorl lexl
caIIed |ncugn, ßeckell reIales lhe vanderings
of a very oId cou¡Ie in a scenario lhal is al once
mounlainous and deserl-Iike. Il is a slory of Iove,
of lhe enduring of lhis oId cou¡Ie, lhal doesn'l
al aII hide lhe disaslrous slale of lheir bodies,
lhe monolony of lheir exislence, lhe groving
difficuIly of sexuaIily, elc. The lexl narrales aII
lhal, bul il sels lhe slory vilhin lhe uIlimaleIy
magnificenl ¡over of Iove and lhe endurance il
embodies.
84
A L A I N B A D I O U
As qcu natc ncniicnc! inc ari cj !rana, | ucu|!
|ikc ic ncniicn a tcrq spccia| |ctc qcu natc nuriurc!
jrcn cni|!ncc!. a |ctc jcr inc incairc. Bcjcrc qcu
urcic inc iri|cgq a|cui inc Annc!s, inai |rings
ic inc siagc a kin! cj ccnicnpcrarq Scapin, qcu
qcursc|j p|aqc! inc iii|c rc|c in Mc|icrc9s Les
Iourberies de Sca¡in in qcur qcuin. Wnai is inc
naiurc cj inis cn!uring |ctc cj qcurs jcr inc incairc?
My Iove of lhe lhealre is very com¡Iicaled
and goes back a Iong lime. Il is ¡robabIy more
¡overfuI lhan my Iove of ¡hiIoso¡hy. My Iove for
¡hiIoso¡hy comes Ialer, more sIovIy and vilh
grealer difficuIly. When I vas young and on
slage, I lhink I vas fascinaled by lhe immediale
feeIing lhal some ¡arl of lhe Ianguage and
¡oelry is Iinked, aImosl inex¡IicabIy, lo lhe body.
IssenliaIIy, ¡erha¡s lhe lhealre vas aIready
a mela¡hor for vhal Iove vouId become Ialer
on, because il vas lhal momenl vhen lhoughl
I N P R A I 5 E OF LOVE
and body are in some vay indislinguishabIe.
They are ex¡osed lo lhe olher in such a manner
lhal you can'l say, ´This is a body¨ or ´This is
an idea¨. The lvo are mixed u¡, Ianguage seizes
lhe body, |usl as vhen you leII someone, ´I Iove
you¨: you say lhal lo someone Iiving, slanding
lhere in fronl of you, bul you are aIso addressing
somelhing lhal cannol be reduced lo lhis sim¡Ie
maleriaI ¡resence, somelhing lhal is absoIuleIy
and simuIlaneousIy bolh beyond and vilhin.
Thal is vhal lhe lhealre is, in ils origins,
lhinking-in-lhe body, embodied lhoughl. As ve
knov, lhere are rehearsaIs in lhe lhealre. ´Lel's
do il again¨, says lhe direclor. Thoughl doesn'l
come easiIy lo lhe body. The reIalionshi¡ of a
lhoughl lo s¡ace and movemenl is com¡Iicaled.
Il musl be al once s¡onlaneous and ¡re-medi-
laled. This is aIso vhal ha¡¡ens in Iove. Desire
is immedialeIy ¡overfuI bul Iove aIso requires
care and re-lakes. Love knovs aII aboul lhe need
<5tª§/^À5>
A L A I N B A D I O U
for re-vorking. 'TeII me again lhal you Iove me¨,
and very oflen, ´Say il beller¨. And desire begins
again. Wilh caresses youTI hear, if lhey are driven
by Iove, ´More! More!¨ lhal momenl vhen lhe
eagerness for ¡hysicaI geslures is reinforced by
lhe insislence of a vord, by a conslanlIy reneved
!cc|araiicn. We knov lhal lhe lheme of Iove as
a game is cruciaI in lhe lhealre, and lhal il's aII
¡reciseIy aboul decIaralions. Il is aIso because
lhis lhealre of Iove, lhis ¡overfuI game of Iove
and chance exisls, lhal I have lhis Iove for lhe
lhealre.
Tnc !ranaiisi Anicinc Viicz, inc nan unc siagc!
qcur cpcra, L'Ichar¡e Rouge, in 1984, ai inc
Atigncn |csiita|, ic nusic |q Gccrgcs Apcrgnis,
uas a|sc in jatcur cj inis i!ca. Hc urcic. ´Ii's unai
Vtc a|uaqs uanic! ic !c cn siagc. sncu inc tic|cni
inrusi cj i!cas, ncu incq |cn! an! icrncni |c!ics
Oc qcu agrcc uiin nin?
<31Ig/^&I
87
I N P R A I 5 E OF LOVE
Com¡IeleIy. You knov, Iessoa, lhe Iorluguese
¡oel, says somevhere, ´Love is a lhoughl¨. Thal's
a very ¡aradoxicaI slalemenl, because ¡eo¡Ie
have aIvays said Iove is aboul lhe body, desire
and feeIing, everylhing bul reason and lhoughl.
And he says, ´Love is a lhoughl¨. I lhink he's
righl. I lhink lhal Iove is a lhoughl and lhal lhe
reIalionshi¡ belveen lhal lhoughl and lhe body
is quile unique, and aIvays marked, as Anloine
Vilez said, by irre¡ressibIe vioIence. We ex¡eri-
ence lhal vioIence in Iife. Il is absoIuleIy lrue lhal
Iove can bend our bodies and ¡rom¡l lhe shar¡esl
lormenl. Love, as ve can observe day in day oul,
is nol a Iong, quiel river. We can never forgel lhe
quile frighlening number of Ioves lhal Iead lo
suicide or murder. Love in lhe lhealre is nol onIy,
or even mainIy, sex farce or innocenl romance: il
is equaIIy lragedy, re|eclion and rage. The reIa-
lionshi¡ belveen lhe lhealre and Iove is aIso lhe
ex¡Ioralion of lhe abyss se¡araling individuaIs,
88
A L A I N B A D I O U
and lhe descri¡lion of lhe fragiIe nalure of lhe
bridge lhal Iove lhrovs belveen lvo soIiludes.
We musl aIvays relurn lo lhis: vhal kind of
lhoughl reveaIs ilseIf in lhe coming and going
belveen lvo sexed bodies` We musl aIso ask, and
lhis makes reIevanl your ¡revious queslion, vhal
vouId lhe lhealre have found lo s¡eak aboul if
Iove hadn'l exisled. Il vouId have s¡oken, and
has s¡oken al greal Ienglh, aboul ¡oIilics. So
ve can say lhealre is ¡oIilics and Iove, and more
generaIIy, aboul lhe lvo inlersecling. This inler-
seclion of ¡oIilics and Iove is a ¡ossibIe definilion
of lragedy. ßul Iove of lhe lhealre is necessariIy
aIso lhe Iove of Iove, because, vilhoul Iove
slories, vilhoul lhe slruggIe lo free Iove from lhe
conslrainls of famiIy, lhe lhealre does nol add u¡
lo much. CIassicaI comedies, Iike MoIiere's ¡Iays,
basicaIIy leII us hov young ¡eo¡Ie vho have mel
by chance musl undermine lhe marriage lhal's
been arranged by lheir ¡arenls. The commonesl,
89
I N P R A I 5 E OF LOVE
mosl ex¡Ioiled confIicl on lhe slage is lhe slruggIe
of chance Iove againsl im¡IacabIe Iav. More
sublIy, il is lhe slruggIe of young ¡eo¡Ie, heI¡ed
by ¡roIelarians (sIaves and servanls), againsl
lhe oId, heI¡ed by Church and Slale. And nov
you viII say, ´Ireedom has von oul, arranged
marriages no Ionger exisl: lhe cou¡Ie is ¡ure
crealion.¨ I'm nol so sure. Ireedom` Whal kind
of freedom exaclIy` Al vhal cosl` Yes, lhal's a
reaI queslion: vhal did Iove ¡ay in lhe a¡¡arenl
gain of ils freedom`
Occsn´i qcur |ctc cj inc incairc a|sc inc|u!c inc
|ctc cj a ccnnuniiq, a cc||cciitc an! an cnscn||c,
sincc qcu cncc |itc! inc |ijc cj inc incairc ccnpanq,
ancng acicrs an! iccnnicians? Occsn´i inc incairc
|car a |ctc inai |c|cngs ic inc cr!cr cj a jraicrniiq?
Yes, of course, lhal Iove exisls! The lhealre is
a communily and lhe aeslhelic ex¡ression of
90
A L A I N B A D I O U
fralernily. Thal's vhy I argue lhal lhere is, in
lhal sense, somelhing communisl in aII lhealre.
ßy ´communisl¨ I undersland lhal vhich makes
lhe heId-in-common ¡revaiI over seIfishness, lhe
coIIeclive achievemenl over ¡rivale seIf-inleresl.
WhiIe ve're aboul il, ve can aIso say lhal Iove
is communisl in lhal sense, if one acce¡ls, as I
do, lhal lhe reaI sub|ecl of a Iove is lhe becoming
of lhe cou¡Ie and nol lhe mere salisfaclion of
lhe individuaIs lhal are ils com¡onenl ¡arls.
Yel anolher ¡ossibIe definilion of Iove: minimaI
communism!
To relurn lo lhe lhealre, I am aIvays slruck
by lhe facl lhal lhe communily of a lhealre lour
is aIso ¡recarious. I'm lhinking of lhe reaIIy
dislressing limes vhen lhe communily breaks u¡:
you've been on lour, Iived logelher for a monlh,
and lhen, aII of a sudden, you go your ovn vay.
The lhealre invoIves lhis ex¡erience of se¡ara-
lion. There are momenls of greal meIanchoIia
91
I N P R A I 5 E OF LOVE
vhen lhe fralernily invoIved in ¡erforming and
slaging breaks u¡. ´Here's my mobiIe number.
We'II be in louch, righl`¨: you are famiIiar vilh
lhis riluaI. ßul nobody viII caII, nol reaIIy. Il's
lhe end and ve go our se¡arale vays. And lhe
issue of se¡aralion is so im¡orlanl in Iove lhal
one can aIso define Iove as a successfuI slruggIe
againsl se¡aralion. The communily of Iove is aIso
¡recarious, and you aIso need much more lhan a
leIe¡hone number lo suslain and deveIo¡ il.
An! unai is inc |ctc cj incairc |ikc, jrcn inc insi!c,
inai is, jrcn inc pcini cj ticu cj inc acicr qcu cncc
ucrc an! qcu´! pcrnaps |ikc ic |c again, cncc ncrc
pcrjcrning scnc cj inc ncnc|cgucs jrcn Ahmed
Ie subliIe cr Ahmed ¡hiIoso¡he`
Il is a unique Iove lhal requires you lo give u¡
your ovn body in ¡rey lo Ianguage, in ¡rey lo
ideas. As you knov, every ¡hiIoso¡her is an aclor,
<5Hg$ïfcI
92
A L A I N B A D I O U
hovever hosliIe he feeIs lovards games and simu-
Ialion. We have been s¡eaking in ¡ubIic from lhe
days of our greal Greek anceslors. In ¡hiIoso¡hy
lhere is aIvays an eIemenl of baring oneseIf: lhe
oraI dimension of ¡hiIoso¡hy ca¡lured by lhe
body in an acl of lransfer. This vas lhe ¡oinl of
a conlroversy I had vilh }acques Derrida, vho
foughl oraIily on behaIf of lhe vrillen, aIlhough
he himseIf gave some vonderfuI ¡erformances.
IhiIoso¡hers have been much crilicized for being
magicians, for ca¡livaling ¡eo¡Ie by arlificiaI
means and Ieading lhem lo unIikeIy lrulhs via
lhe ¡alhs of seduclion. ßook V of IIalo's |cpu||ic
(lhis massive book of vhich I am ¡re¡aring a
com¡Iele, very differenl ´lransIalion¨) conlains
a quile aslonishing ¡assage. Socrales slarls lo
define vhal is a lrue ¡hiIoso¡her. And lhen very
suddenIy, he seems lo change sub|ecl. Here is my
version (Socrales is s¡eaking):
93
I N P R A I 5 E OF LOVE
´Do I need lo remind you of somelhing you
musl remember very vividIy` When ve s¡eak of
an ob|ecl of Iove, ve assume lhal lhe Iover Ioves
lhal ob|ecl in ils enlirely. We don'l aIIov for his
Iove lo seIecl |usl one ¡arl and re|ecl anolher.¨
The lvo young ¡eo¡Ie seem laken aback.
Amanlha lakes il u¡on herseIf lo ex¡ress lheir
beviIdermenl: ´Dear Socrales, vhal is lhe
conneclion belveen lhis delour on Iove and lhe
definilion of a ¡hiIoso¡her`¨
´Ah, our young vomen in Iove! UnabIe lo
recognize lhal, as Iernando Iessoa lhe greal
Iorluguese ¡oel said, 'Iove is a lhoughl'. Lislen,
you youngslers: anyone vho doesn'l lake Iove
as lheir slarling-¡oinl viII never discover vhal
¡hiIoso¡hy is aboul.¨
Il's lrue! We shouId foIIov our oId masler. One
musl slarl vilh Iove. We ¡hiIoso¡hers don'l
have lhal many means al our dis¡osaI, if ve
94
A L A I N B AD I OU
are de¡rived of lhe means of seduclion, lhen ve
reaIIy viII be disarmed. And being an aclor is
aIso aboul lhal! Il is aboul seducing on behaIf of
somelhing lhal, in lhe end, is a lrulh.
IN CONCLU5ION
| uani ic rciurn ic inis |ctc inai nas ic |c
rc-intcnic! an! !cjcn!c!. |n The Meaning of
Sarkozy qcu arguc inai inc rc-intcniicn cj |ctc
is cnc pcssi||c pcini cj rcsisiancc againsi inc
c|sccniiq cj inc narkci an! inc currcni pc|iiica|
!isarraq cn inc |cji. |n qcur ticu, ncu nigni |ctc
ccnsiiiuic anq kin! cj rcsisiancc ic inc ucr|!
sqn|c|izc! |q inc prcsi!cni cj |rancc?
I lhink lhal il is vilaI lo see lhal Irance is bolh
lhe counlry of revoIulions and a greal Iand
of reaclion. This heI¡s lo undersland Irance
diaIeclicaIIy. I oflen argue aboul lhis vilh my
A L A I N B A D I O U
foreign friends because lhey sliII enlerlain lhe
mylh of a vonderfuI Irance lhal is aIvays on
lhe brink of revoIulionary invenlions. So lhey
vere inevilabIy ralher shocked by lhe eIeclion of
Sarkozy, vho doesn'l al aII fil inlo lhis ¡ers¡ec-
live... I leII lhem lhal lhey conslrucl a hislory
of Irance in vhich lhe InIighlenmenl ¡hiIoso-
¡hers, Rousseau, lhe Irench RevoIulion, }une
'48, lhe Iaris Commune, lhe Io¡uIar Ironl, lhe
Resislance, lhe Liberalion and May '68 foIIov
each olher. Thal's aII veII and good. ßul lhere
is anolher side lo lhe slory: lhe Resloralion of
1815, lhe VersaiIIais, lhe HoIy Union during lhe
Greal War, Ielain, horrendous coIoniaI vars...
and Sarkozy. So lhere are lvo hislories of Irance
and lhey are enlvined. Whenever greal revoIu-
lionary hysleria runs riol, il is mel vilh obsessive
reaclion. Irom lhis ¡ers¡eclive, I lhink lhal Iove
is aIso al slake.
Moreover, Iove has aIvays been Iinked lo
97
I N P R A I 5 E OF LOVE
hisloricaI evenls. Romanlicism in Iove is Iinked
lo lhe revoIulions of lhe nineleenlh cenlury.
Andre ßrelon is aIso lhe Io¡uIar Ironl, lhe Resis-
lance, and lhe anli-Iascisl slruggIe. May '68 vas
a greal ex¡Iosion of ex¡erimenls in nev lakes
on sexuaIily and Iove. ßul vhen lhe conlexl
becomes sombre and reaclionary, allem¡ls are
made lo bring idenlily back on lhe agenda. Il
can lake differenl forms, bul il is aIvays idenlily.
And Sarkozy vasn'l sIov off lhe mark. Targel
number one: vorkers from abroad. His inslru-
menl: savage, re¡ressive IegisIalion. He had
aIready lried il on vhen he vas Minisler of lhe
Inlerior. The discourse used confIales Irench
and Weslern idenlilies. He has no quaIms aboul
¡erforming a IillIe coIoniaI number in reIalion
lo ´African man¨. The reaclionary ¡ro|ecl is
aIvays lhe defence of ´our vaIues¨, casling us in
lhe mouId of vorIdvide ca¡ilaIism as lhe onIy
¡ossibIe idenlily. The im¡uIse driving reaclion is
A L A I N B A D I O U
aIvays a crude reference lo idenlily in one form or
anolher. Nov, vhen lhe Iogic of idenlily vins lhe
day, Iove is under lhreal. The vay il is allracled
lo difference, ils sociaI dimension, and ils viId,
evenluaIIy vioIenl side are under lhreal. They
¡romole a ´Iove¨ lhal is safe, in Iine vilh aII lheir
olher securily inilialives. So nov il is urgenl lo
defend Iove's subversive, helerogeneous reIalion-
shi¡ lo lhe Iav. Al lhe mosl minimaI IeveI, ¡eo¡Ie
in Iove ¡ul lheir lrusl in difference ralher lhan
being sus¡icious of il. Reaclionaries are aIvays
sus¡icious of difference in lhe name of idenlily,
lhal's lheir generaI ¡hiIoso¡hicaI slarling-¡oinl.
If ve, on lhe conlrary, vanl lo o¡en ourseIves u¡
lo difference and ils im¡Iicalions, so lhe coIIeclive
can become lhe vhoIe vorId, lhen lhe defence
of Iove becomes one ¡oinl individuaIs have lo
¡raclise. The idenlily cuIl of re¡elilion musl be
chaIIenged by Iove of vhal is differenl, is unique,
is unre¡ealabIe, unslabIe and foreign. In 1982 in
<5¯
I N P R A I 5 E OF LOVE
lhe Tnccrq cj inc Su|jcci I vrole: ´Love vhal you
viII never see lvice.¨
Iikcuisc ii is in inai scnsc inai jcan-Iuc Gc!ar!´s
ji|n, In Iraise of Love, inc cincnaiic ucrk in
inc jcrn cj a caniaia inai inspirc! inc iii|c jcr
cur !ia|cguc, csia||isncs a ccning icgcincr, a
ccrrcspcn!cncc |ciuccn |ctc an! |csisiancc...
Of course! Godard has aIvays inscribed in his
fiIms, from one momenl of hislory lo lhe nexl,
vhal he considered lo be lhe ¡oinls of resislance
and crealion, and more generaIIy everylhing lhal
in his eyes deserved lo enler lhe com¡osilion of
an image. Whal is essenliaI for him, I lhink, is lo
aIIocale Iove belveen a slrong, ¡urilan conce¡-
lion of sexuaIily and a reaIIy amorous lension
Iocaled more oflen in vomen, so lhal aII men face
lhe chaIIenge of |oining lhem or acce¡ling lheir
aulhorily on lhis ¡oinl. I have |usl vorked vilh
1 0 0
A L A I N B AD I OU
him on his nexl fiIm, vhere I viII ¡ossibIy ¡Iay
lhe roIe of a ¡hiIoso¡her-Ieclurer on a Iuxury
cruise-shi¡, or ¡erha¡s I von'l, because vho
knovs vhal lhis arlisl viII finaIIy do vilh every-
lhing he has shol` I have admired cIose u¡ his
unique ¡recision and his demanding slance. And
il is Iove lhal is aImosl aIvays al slake. Neverlhe-
Iess, lhe meIanchoIy lhal coIours everylhing in
Godard marks lhe difference belveen him and
myseIf in lerms of lhe conneclion belveen Iove
and resislance. I feeI incurabIy dislanl from lhal
sub|eclive coIouring, even vhen Iove is al slake.
Occs inc jascinaiicn jcr cc|c|s, incsc ncu !ciiics cn
a ic|ctisc! O|qnpus, sicn, in qcur ticu, sc|c|q jrcn
pc|iiica| !cccpiicn cr is ii cti!cncc cj an aiiraciicn
jcr |ctc sicrics inai ccncs jrcn inc pccp|c´s
kncu|c!gc cj inc inicnsiiq cj |ctc?
<3Hg/s^fcp
101
I N P R A I 5 E OF LOVE
There are lvo vays lo read lhis ¡henomenon.
Irom a ¡oIilicaI ¡ers¡eclive, one ra¡idIy comes
lo lhe concIusion lhal il is somelhing fake. You
amuse and fascinale ¡eo¡Ie vilh lhese slories
and lhal dislracls lhem from vhal is reaIIy
im¡orlanl. In lerms of ¡oIilics, vhal inleresl can
lhere be in lhe facl lhal CarIa succeeds CeciIia`
None al aII, obviousIy. ßul you can aIso lry lo read
lhe ¡ubIicily given lo lhese evenls in a differenl
vay by asking yourseIf: vhy does il vork` Il
musl be because lhere is a generic inleresl in
Iove slories. Il has aIvays been lhe case lhal lhe
Ioves of lhe u¡¡er crusl have been dramalised for
Iover morlaIs. Why` There are aIso lvo ¡ossibIe
ansvers lo lhal queslion. One can sim¡Iy suggesl
il has lo do vilh Iove's universaIily: even Sarkozy
may be suffering as he des¡eraleIy vails on a
lexl lhal never arrives. If you change lhe scaIes,
if you move from ¡oIilicaI lrulhs lo lhe lrulhs
of Iove, your ¡oIilicaI enemy can end u¡ being
<3HgIÇ®i£>
102
A L A I N B A D I O U
Iike you, vhich isn'l greal, bul il is reassuring.
The Iove lhal can make a king suffer lo an exlenl
connecls him vilh lhe serf. Al lhal IeveI, lhe serf
is aIso a king. Il is lhe romanlic side of Iife: Iove is
aIvays in lhe air. ßul, lhere is a second inler¡re-
lalion: lhe a¡¡arenl commonaIily in ¡assion aIso
shovs lhal lhese guys, lhe king, lhe ¡residenl,
lhe Iührer, lhe Ialher of lhe Ieo¡Ies, aren'l lhal
s¡eciaI. They loo can be cuckoIded. So lhere is no
fundamenlaI reason lo res¡ecl or fear lhem. We
are back lo ¡oIilics, al Ieasl al ils basic, sub|eclive
IeveI.
As ve said before, lhere are enemies in
¡oIilics. So, ve von'l vorry if lhey suffer in Iove.
They'II never do us lhal honour! If ve are al aII
¡oIilicaIIy avare, ve musl say lhal il is nol our
¡robIem if Sarkozy's vife deceives him or nol.
ßul ve shouId aIso say lhal ve are inleresled
in lhe visibiIily of Iove, al lhe IeveI of a diffuse
knovIedge of Iove's virlues, a IeveI lhal has
103
I N P R A I 5 E OF LOVE
moreover been forlified by Chrislianily. This visi-
biIily is ¡arl of lhe boundIess fieId vhere ¡oIilicaI
courage is fashioned from im¡ure maleriaIs and
aIvays slarls from lhe ¡osilion lhal enemies
have no su¡ernaluraI significance and no lran-
scendenlaI ¡over. To avoid gelling bogged dovn
in Sarkozian mediocrily, I viII give an exam¡Ie
of inlense, subIime Iove from Irench hislory: one
lhal, al lhe lime of lhe Ironde, Iinked lhe Queen
Regenl Anne of Auslria vilh lhal briIIianl,
corru¡l and devious ¡oIilician, Mazarin. Irom
lhe ¡oinl of viev of lhe riolers, lhis Iove became
a lerribIe obslacIe (lhe Regenl viII never Ieave
her man) and a vilaI ingredienl in ¡o¡uIar
rheloric lhal re¡resenled Mazarin as a ¡erverse
¡ig. I can lhink of no beller vay of saying lhal
onIy ambiguous conneclions exisl belveen
¡oIilics and Iove, a kind of ¡orous se¡aralion
or forbidden ¡assage, lhal onIy lhe lhealre can
¡ro¡erIy accounl for. Comedy` Tragedy` ßolh.
1 0 4
A L A I N B AD I OU
To Iove is lo slruggIe, beyond soIilude, vilh every-
lhing in lhe vorId lhal can animale exislence.
This vorId vhere I see for myseIf lhe founl of
ha¡¡iness my being vilh someone eIse brings.
´I Iove you¨ becomes: in lhis vorId lhere is lhe
founl you are for my Iife. In lhe valer from lhis
founl, I see our bIiss, yours firsl. As in MaIIarme's
¡oem, I see:
|n inc uatc qcu |cccnc
Ycur nakc! ccsiasq.

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