“Parallax: the apparent displacement of an object as seen from two different points that are not on a line with the object”
“Hey, she was so easy to love. But wait, I guess that love wasn’t enough.” – Nelly
** Spoiler Alert for the movie: The Box**
Our ideas of love are informed by the world we interact with. When we are rejected we learn what love is or what we think love should not be. When we receive flowers and chocolates, we solidify in our minds that maybe love looks something like that. Our idea of love is constituted. Constituted by society. By our beliefs. By those things we don’t believe. By our experience.
Our desire for things is an excess. Love is one such excess.
We tend to create desire out of the desire of the other. The other could be law, society, God, peers and Other others. We attempt to try to fill these gaps of desire with things that cannot truly fill them. They are representations of representations. And so they aren’t Real, they are simply real. The idea of love is a shadow to love. All of our ideas of love make up what love should/could be.
The idea of love is a fabled construct we bow to socially.
Hollywood is one such god that has created a perverse enterprise on trying to define what love should be under the obscene guise of an idealistic notion that love is meant to make us feel good. It seems Zizek’s thoughts on love are bit more in tune with the social order Jesus spoke of, “What does love feel like? Like a great misfortune, a monstrous parasite, a permanent state of emergency that ruins all small pleasures.” Love isn’t meant to make you feel good, its meant to ruin your life. Its meant to be a mirror that shows us the ‘grotesquesness’ of our narcissism.
Let me make this as personal as possible to bring home this point. Do I love my wife? Yes and no. I love my wife as I think she should be. But since she does not always fit the role I think she should, I am simply loving the facade that I have created in my mind that replaces her. I am loving something that isn’t there. I am loving an absence. A perverse hope. The redemption of love lies in Zizek’s Parallax.
If love is born out of desire, and desire is always in excess than love is never truly enough. We will always crave more love. We will continually desire desire. It is the abuse or neglect of this excess that draws people to the most outlandish lengths to do the supposed crazy things expoused by love. Standing on rooftops, singing in public, buying Valentine’s Day cards and so on. Its the excess that drives us all to irrational lengths.
In the movie The Box with Cameron Diaz and James Marsden, you have two characters who have been socially and vocationally displaced. Their displacement leads them to make an irrational decision under the guise of a promise for a better future. In the end this irrational decision leads them down a few paths that end in their familial demise. Love inherently displaces two people, rather than being in the right place at the right time, it puts two people together in the wrong place at the wrong time.
This is why the whole idea of loving your enemy is the right place at the right time because that relationship is already in sheer displacement. To love one’s enemy is to disrupt the rhythm of displacement. To love your neighbour however is to disrupt the natural order of things. Love is disruptive. It doesn’t save us. It condemns us to a life of disruptive servitude; this disruption is the element that transforms the world.
Towards the end of the movie, the husband is left with a decision to restore his son’s hearing and sight at the expense of the life of his wife. He ends his wife’s life under the promise of an after-life that he has metaphorically experienced. In this example, love forces us to kill our representations of love. By doing so, we save the Other. The Other is the thing that we look to to help define our world and each other. As in life, some people make their children ‘their world’ in this instance the child becomes the Other. Most parents if pushed would realistically die to save their children.
This altruistic act is fueled by the notion that the parent’s death will make a difference in the life of the child. In this instance, this isnt an act of love, but rather it is love’s perverted excess in motion. The father who makes the decision and shoots his wife for the sake of his child is led by an absent possibility of the afterlife. The absence is the reality that he cannot see the afterlife, but hopes it is real. He is fueled by an absence to make an ethical choice that is meant to make things better, but in the end doesn’t stop the cycle that he and his wife initially participated in (pressing the button on the box).
Love is the ability to betray that absence in light of any circumstance. Judas’ act of betrayal to Jesus was an act of love. The ability to betray someone is an act of love. He had hope his death would make a difference in the life of Jesus. The choice to not betray is another act of simple love. Love arises out of the gap between the absence and the choice.
When we betray all of the representations of love, then we are love with nothing else than a love that has entered into Lacan’s Real. The Real in this example can also be named the great Unsaid or horror. When Love enters the Real it becomes as it was meant to be, horrific and displacing. The moment love does not displace the object it is meant to love, it is something other than love. It is a perversion of love. To love someone in an altruistic sense means we must be willing to displace them. Displace them from where they are into an alternate state of being.
Love is the reparation of being.