1. Love is, in a way, prior to
1. Love is, in a way, prior to indifference, for humans. Babies love their parents, etc., neither because they’ve taken stock of their virtues, nor out of benevolence. (We wouldn’t be wrong to say out of need, but this is a synthetic identification, and already a partial breaking of the spell; it’s important that it’s not experienced, sensed, that way.) We like to think that this default to loving is reined in slightly in mature adults, but remembering that the finite is founded on the infinite is just as important here as in physics. (Levinas the Galileo of ethics.)
2. Love tends toward the metaphysical illusion that the other person exists all the way down. Put differently, the unconscious has an utterly personalist ontology, despite its obviously impersonal mechanism. (Leon, the sentimentalist replicant, is just sad, but not yet lovable. Awareness of this total disconnect between function and thesis in the unconscious (between its being and its consciousness, duh! (that’s why it’s the unconscious, idiot, it doesn’t reflect!)) the origin of our aversion, as adults, to sentimentality.)
3. “Not all the way down” refers to different finitudes in different contexts. For example, the person clearly exists (under normal circumstances, but not all!) on the scale of five minutes. But what about on the scale of half a second when the action potentials are determining reflexive action under anxiety etc. Should we take this as “revealing the true person”? DV becomes upset. “She lied to my face.” Seems immensely revealing to him. But to me the cynical liar that anxiety (note!) manufactures is a homonculus, and the significant thing to me is the other aspect – that she was uneasy about it immediately, etc. Other examples: the regress of reasons in choice, how much one is understood by the other, etc.
4. So on the one hand we have the personalist unconscious, while the other hand, we have what consciousness shows: emptiness. Origin of religion on the one hand, of science on the other – animism vs. emptiness and flux. The one is false, depends on its illusions, the other cold. The spontaneous ideology of science: stoicism, etc. (It’s courteous for Europeans to beat up on our own forms first.) Imaginary persons and no persons at all.
5. The point of love is to lift the energy of the unconscious from the plane of ontological illusion to that of ethical truth. Adult love would consist in taking the energy of the personalist unconscious and applying it not as a matter of faith in what already exists, but as a self-referential imperative, to the edge of the other person’s existence, the point at which their being touches the void. This would be cynical/paternalistic only if I myself existed all the way down – or played the role of one who does, a parent. (Alyosha to Lise about Snegiryov?) But, in fact, parenthood is as childish as childhood, and what in the other calls for my art is at the same time more real than I myself am. (Love thus provides the truth of that reversal which, in the relation to an object can only be alienation – that I become the product of my product. (Reversibilities: Augustine, why not Hegel when he wants it so badly?, Merleau-Ponty, Levinas.))
(Love makes truth of the user-illusion.)
6. Note here what philosophy is, which is always in some relation to love – sudden collapse of distance by reflection, that is, getting closer to existence than one thought it possible to get in concepts – precisely by suspending the desire to get closer directly and instead turning to forms, where another failure takes place that sends one back to one’s original desire in modified form. As if the hold of concepts directly, prephilosophically, on the world, leaves a special sort of gap like the one that separates your hand pressed to its image in a mirror, because of the gap between the foil and the glass. The only experience of philosophy that counts is one that feels like a sudden breaking of that barrier in the least expected way – through the power of a formal reflection that in its failure, emplaces us in unimaginable intimacy with existence. It might be that the distance vanishes because the mirror breaks.