INCENTIVE

Barely back from Norway, I insist on pledging with myself that my days shall end in the mountains. But I need this pledge to unfold itself against the background of constant reassuring. In other words, although I know it for sure, I need an incentive that carries my certitude forward. I need the proximity of vibration. So what do I do? I hurry to book another sojourn up in the mountains. And I like returns. In three weeks, I shall be back at Vann for a few days and then on to Isabergtoppen in Sweden. The more I anticipate the smell of autumn, the more I also get dragged into discourses concerning assurance. Knowledge by decay. Certitude by d├ęcalage. I thus return to Jean Luc Marion, although these days I find what he has to say slightly disturbing from a ‘coincidence’ point of view, but equally sublimely fascinating as ever. Here’s a passage – among many good ones – in his The Erotic Phenomenon (2007).

"… Only eternity responds to erotic reason’s need for the assurance of the present – knowing definitely whom I love […] ‘Will I have the strength, the intelligence, and the time to love you to the end, without remainder or regret?’ for the one that I love clearly imposes herself upon me as a saturated phenomenon, whose endless and measureless intuition does not cease to overflow all of the significations that I attempt to assign to her, beginning with the first among them, ‘Here I am!’ Seriously facing the face of the other, or more precisely, the face of this unsubstitutable other of whom I claim to be the lover, requires that I give without end a new meaning to the intuitions that never cease coming to me, and thus that I say all the words and pronounce all the names I am able to mobilize, or even that I invent others, so as to accomplish the indefinite interpretation. The lover never finishes telling himself of the beloved, telling himself to the beloved, and telling the beloved to herself. The lover, in front of the intuitions that the beloved inspires in him, must deploy an endless hermeneutic, a conversation without endpoint; thus he needs a period of time without bounds in order to carry out his discourse without conclusion. Love demands eternity because it can never finish telling itself the excess within it of intuition over signification. I will only know whom I love in the final instance – by eschatological anticipation of eternity, the sole condition of its endless erotic hermeneutic. Thus, only eternity answers the need of erotic reason concerning the assurance of a future – being able endlessly to tell me whom I love and to make it known to her, since without me, she would not know it" (210).

If asked, Marion would say the same as The Beatles, ‘all you need is love.’ Perhaps this is so. But it seems to me that the continuity of love, insofar as it needs constant reassuring, is dependent on the incentive to give nothing to itself. How else to understand endlessness? As reassurance comes in fragments, impulses, nods, and lexia, it supplements continuity with ‘everything’ which is also ‘nothing’ at the same time. In other words, if the proposition ‘all you need is love’ is correct, then it can only be so if it runs counter to time as a matter of necessity. Thus we don’t operate with either the past or the future, but with their assurance. Perhaps this is what Marion means to suggest, when he further says: “To love requires loving without being able or willing to wait any longer to love perfectly, definitely, and forever. Loving demands that the first time coincide with the last time” (211). I’m pretty sure that up in the mountains, I’ll decide that now I love, whether I need it or not.

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