In In Praise of Love, For Badiou, love is an existential project, a constantly unfolding quest for truth. This quest begins with the chance encounter, an event that forever changes two individuals, challenging them “to see the world from the point of view of two rather than one.” This, Badiou believes, is love’s most essential transforming power.
Love under threat
Paris is plastered with posters for the Meetic Internet dating-site, whose ads I find really disturbing. I could mention a number of slogans its hype uses. The first misappropriates the title of Marivaux’s play, The Game of Love and Chance, ‘Get love without chance!’ And then another says, ‘Be in love without falling in love’. No raptures, right? Then, ‘Get perfect love without suffering!’ And all thanks to the Meetic dating-site…that offers into the bargain–and the notion takes my breath away–‘coaching in love.’ So they supply with a trainer who will prepare you to face the test.
I believe this hype reflects a safety-first concept of ‘love.’ It is love comprenhensively insured against all risks: you will have love, but will have assessed the prospective relationship so thoroughly, will have selected your partner so carefully by searching online–by obtaining, of course, a photo, details of his or her tastes, date of birth, horoscope sign, etc.–and putting it all in the mix you can tell yourself: ‘This is a risk-free option!’
Is love a ‘truth procedure’?
I believe that love is indeed what I call in my own philosophical jargon a ‘truth procedure’, that is, an experience whereby a certain kind of truth is constructed. This truth is quite simply the truth about Two: the truth that derives from difference as such. And I think that love–what I call the ‘Two scene’–is this experience.
In this sense, all love that accepts the challenge, commits to enduring, and embraces this experience of the world from the perspective of difference produces in its way a new truth about difference.
That is why love that is real is always of interest to the whole of humanity, however humble, however hidden, that love might seem on the surface.
Why are there so many films, novels, and songs that are entirely given over to love stories?
There must be something universal about love for these stories to interest such an enormous audience. What is universal is that all love suggests a new experience of truth about what it is to be two and not one. That we can encounter and experience the world other than through a solitary consciousness: any love whatsoever gives us new evidence of this.
And that is why we like to love; as St. Augustine says, we like to love, but we also like others to love us: quite simply because we love truths. That is what gives philosophy its meaning: people like truths, even when they don’t know that they like them.