The more love unfolds, the more it touches its limit …

As I have been expending my strength with success during the time of the Growth, I have in fact already started to wear myself out, because the more I display my capabilities, the more fragile they become, the more ground I occupy, the more I must toll to conserve it; the Roman Empire had pushed its lines too far not to collapse.

In a certain way, could the same thing not be said about love? The more it unfolds, the more it touches its limit. The more it culminates, becomes absolute, to the point of absorbing everything, the more it places itself in danger: feverish and intimate afternoons turn into despair to the point of suffocation. For if it is not ‘me’ who passes from love to abhorrence or indifference ‘afterwards’, is it not rather that, the more it concentrates intensity, indeed the more it puts the impossible to the test, then the closer love comes to being inverted? And so it tends to become, literally, ‘catastrophic’. Moreover, it is then not a matter of ‘hatred’, as a feeling in the affective or psychological sense that is the opposite of love, but of the same love swinging into its negative. We know that one lover can kill the other one, due not to impulsive anger or delirium, as is too anecdotally claimed, but in a logical way—or may the amorous anger which one day arose not already have been a preliminary outline of this looming reversal?

François Julien. The Silent Transformations. trans. Krzysztof Fijalkowski and Michael Richardson

5 thoughts on “The more love unfolds, the more it touches its limit …

  1. Not so sure I agree with Julien about love. It seems to me there are (at least) 2 kinds of love – ego constrained and ego liberating. His speculation may be true of the first kind but seems completely wrong about the second kind. Love may place Self in danger but isn’t that exactly the point of this second type of love?

    • Perhaps, though, the liberation contains a form of compulsion or constraint. As Julien says elsewhere, “Why does love disappoint me as a theme? Because it’s always theatrical. The declaration of love, “I love you,” is an astonishing phrase because it amounts to saying “I alienate you; I objectify you.” What’s more, it’s always brief. When you magnify the other in love, you always run up against a limit. Every qualification entails a disqualification.”

  2. It is unlikely for hatred to exist without some remnant of love. Julien would argue that love’s true opposite is indifference. He prizes intimacy over love, arguing the latter is objectification.

  3. Clearly he is speaking about a romantic love and intimacy if I read this right. For me that is not something that has been part of my reality for such a long time that it holds little practical possibility in my conception of love. But when you think about parental love, there is a curious experience that typically accompanies the birth of a second child. The first child arrives with such an intensity of affection and absorbs so much of a love that is new in form and intent that when a second child is expected there is a fear that one could not possibly another child as much. One wonders what could possibly be left. And yet when the second child is born love simply opens up… it expands beyond any limit one can imagine until it is encountered.

    • An interesting perspective. There seems very little in common between the feelings that open up with one’s child, and with the object of what we call romantic love. It is a sign of how impoverished language is that they carry the same terminology. But I sense what you mean, though I have only the one child.

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