giovedì 15 maggio 2008

The erotic phenomenon

Ho finito e pubblicato la mia ricensione al libro di Jean Luc Marion- Le phenomène erotique
Mi è piaciuto molto la sua analisi del fenomeno dell'amore, ti fa riscoprire, da nome a sentimenti indicibili che vivono dentro di noi quando amiamo.
Amare adesso o mai! amare come se questa fosse l'ultima possibilità di amare!

The Erotic PhenomenonReview - The Erotic Phenomenon
by Jean-Luc Marion
University Of Chicago Press, 2007
Review by Lucia Teszler
May 13th 2008 (Volume 12, Issue 20)

Marion's book on the erotic phenomenon is an important moment in the development of his thinking about the re-foundation of philosophy, not based on Cartesian objective certainty, but on the act of free giving.

Starting from the sixteenth chapter, we can find a clear and rigorous phenomenology of love; Or can we read it from the beginning as an attempt to read the re-foundation of the metaphysics, starting from the erotic phenomenon intended as a gift.

The first 15 chapters, however, deal with the discussion by Marion of Descartes and the Cartesian tradition based on the cogito certainty. According to the author, the certainty of the objective world doesn't protect us against vanity.

Thus, although cartesian philosophy begins from the cogito, Marion refuses the foundational value of the objective thinking and chooses love, the erotic reduction, because the meaning of life come from elsewhere, from living for the Other.

The reassurance of the meaning of our existence always comes from the other, from elsewhere. We must recognize that we need to be loved by someone to get a sense of our existence. Indeed we feel fulfilled only when we give, when we love. The amorous phenomenon is the phenomenon of the other within me.

At the start of a relationship I have the expectation of somebody who, loving me, will give a reason to my existence, and, in the end, I am in the remembrance of the moments when I loved, when I decided to dedicate myself to a certain person for ever and ever. In fact, the moments of erotic reduction occur when I recognize the sense of my life in a particular Other, a happiness for which I want to live. These are the most important moments in my life when I am building my own individuality through another.

At the end of my life, I will be the sum of my free acts of loving, which, if sincerely devoted to an Other, knowing that now they are for ever, would change us and remain for us sources of self-strengthening in times of difficulties in life.

The originality of Marion consists in having made a more solid foundation for the process of individualization than the Cartesian philosophy of objective certainty, in saying that my identity is not in the cogito but in giving, in loving, thus putting precisely the foundations of a different philosophy.

Love must discover itself as a given and offered phenomenon (p.22) With all my lived erotic experiences, all my consciousness and with all my practice as a lover, only the other knows if I love him or not. I receive myself from the other, I am born from him (p 195) I became myself trough living for other by giving him proper significance.

The real adventure of love, and the analysis of the erotic phenomenon begins when the lover dares to break the circles of logical and economical expectation of reciprocity to be loved, the moment when he or she decides to love first, not taking care of the risk of exposing themselves, wishing only to make the other happy and to give them a meaning. Loving first is a risk that I assume, loving at a loss without the fear of loosing everything, exposing themselves first without any guarantee, like a lover, whose love is accomplished in loss, in giving without guarantee.

The argument against vanity is giving just out of love, giving first without asking for a response.

This way, I can love not only the being but also that what no longer exists and thus love is a victory over nothing, because not even death can stop it. Loving first, love in loss, without demanding reciprocity can not be stopped by anything. This hints to a God without being, because love is more than being and wins over nonexistence.

Love is not only a risk, love is transgression. There is no reason for love. It breaks out like a war breaks out in beyond any reason, or any logical, reasonable principle.

This lack of sufficient reason and risk to love without the guarantee of reciprocity gives the lover the freedom of his ipseity, the decision for their own sense, and the freedom to find or to create his own sense trough this unknown Other. Trusting blindly in the sense of Other the lover find the reassurance of their own sense. By loving one becomes the creator of his own as well as the other's meaning, becomes the creator of himself, causa sui.

I have access to my final individuality through this unreasonable love, through this risk of greatest exposure. Because I become myself in my unique individuality not when I think or when I hope but when I decide as a lover to love first. I decide to appear through her through this particular other even if I don't know anything about him.

The signification imposes itself as having come from the other. Through the amorous oath the lovers declare to each other even without saying it : Here I am, Your signification (p.104) The erotic phenomena is a reciprocal phenomenon because of this crossing signification that both lovers receive and offer to each other. The two egos are accomplished as lovers, crossed exchange of signification and the two oaths become one.

The lover is individualized by desire because what I lack lives in my inner life and defines me more intimately than everything that I possess. I become myself when I recognize the One that I desire "this is the One for me now and when I decide to desire him for ever. In this moment I am not longer the same and I could not become the same. The oath is for ever. Love marks us irreversibly if for a time we had hoped that we will love each other once and for all. Without this hope we can't speak about love, and even if love lasts for a short time this hope is justified.

The lovers give each other what they do not have, each flesh receiving itself from the other, they experience the same erotic accomplishment and each sees in the glorious face of the other that they live the same feelings. From the crossing of the flesh, wherein each flesh receives itself from the other the two gazes become at the same time immanent and transcendent to one another. In erotic reduction I do not enjoy my pleasure but hers/his (p.128). I can say that I also enjoy the power to give pleasure to my beloved, the power of my flesh on his flesh to make him lose his self-control, become his glorious flesh, to give him to himself entirely, I feel myself when I create him

However in the chapter on orgasm Marion doesn't pursue this ascending to experience the full unity and interpenetration of lover and beloved until losing finally one in the other through orgasm but prefers the interpretation of a fall in disillusionment, of a discontinuity of the erotic reduction. The experience of being safe by loving others vanishes and we return into the world "The other's flesh pass from its glory to a physical body, the divine form and essence of my decomposed loves end up as a carcass" (p.137)

Following that, Marion continues the phenomenology of love analyzing the faithfulness, the childish, obscene and mystical language in eroticism in the same rigorous and clear style rich in deep meanings, but the erotic dialogue is going to conclude. This signifies not success but running around. The failure here gives one a feeling of discontinuity, of suspension of love, thus the discourse continues with methods of keeping alive the oath of love, to ensure the loyalty of the other who is giving and is possessing my sense, beyond the suspicion of jealousy, beyond the fear of the betrayal.

The exit from the suspicion happens again as a dare, as a free gift, when the lover paradoxically decides to guarantee him that he/she believes in the eternal faithfulness of the beloved. The lover decides how sincere the other is and decides his faithfulness for her. I decide that instead of the statement "I love you" I declare "You truly love me, I know, I'm sure of it."

I declare to him "You truly love me" and I receive this declaration from him. I will receive myself from the other, just as I am born from them. (p.195)

The gift character of entire erotic phenomenon culminates in the impossibility of being stopped by death because the lover, from the beginning of his advance , anticipates eternity, he supposes eternity. The meaning of love is just this desire for eternity.

The lovers ensure the phenomenalization, the visibility of their oaths' endurance through a third party who will be the child whose arrival and growth will be a free exercise of giving and in the same time will make visible their shared purpose. But the child is in transition, there comes a time when the child departs.

Finally the loving of eternity, the search of phenomenalization in a third party, their love for searching confirmation can not be entirely satisfied by a child. The sense of impossibility to ensure the eternity in time for our oath is broken from a new gratuitous act that brings the experience of love to eschatological limits. I decide to accomplish the promise of eternity without waiting anymore, right now. Nunc est amandum (p.211), we must love now, now or never, now and forever, love without regrets and without remembering that the moment will pass One must love now as if this was their last chance to love. This is the inner eternity of love

This eschatological love drives us to God, leads to the lovers' passage to God. The conclusion is that "God surpasses us as the best lover 'conclusion that takes away the value of the risk of exposure, of giving meaning to frailty, of the glorified flesh and gaze, of the individuation through one certain Other. For those who know the other works of Marion and his conception of God and of the gift (God without being. Prolegomena to Charity) the theological conclusion of the book will be clear, that is, God is the greatest expression of the gift and the greatest lover.

To be honest the structure of this work does not make the necessity of this theological conclusion clear enough. Marion's conclusions in the end of the last subchapter appear somewhat artificial, and will be understood only by those who know his other books, his different image of God. This does not take away the merit of having indubitably given the erotic phenomenon a new enlightening philosophical meaning

You have to give yourself time to read this book slowly because there are many ideas that invite to investigation and put the meaning of love in a thoroughly new light and invite you to study more deeply the sense of the loving experience focusing on the creation of a meaning, on ipseity, and the foundation of ourselves, on a free gift, on God and on eternity.

© 2008 Lucia Teszler

Lucia Teszler is a PhD Student in Philosophical Hermeneutic at University of Turin