*The Arts of Love: Sense and Sensuality in the Global Matrix*
Liking is a form of enjoyment. Wanting is a function of desire's socialisation:
you can only want what you know exists, only want things, commodities, that you
already know – wanting is about repeating a sensation you've had before.
Needing is about some sensation you may suddenly find is lost: 'I need a drink'
is a symptom of thirst. Need is premised on absence, what you don't have or
legitimately fear to lose. But love, what is love?
Achilles looses his bow, with Brises, running, in his sights. But when the
arrow reaches the spot where Brises was when Achilles fired, she has moved on.
And when the arrow moves to where she has moved to, she has escaped onwards
again. The mathematics of Brises' flight is the original of the geometry of
infinitessimals – the maths of the infinite number of decimal places between
any two whole numbers. It allows us to understand that the distance between you
and me is both finite and infinite, and that another finite infinity
differentiates you and her, and us and them. Distance – space-and-time – is
always infinite, always finite. This is what makes communication both possible
Nowhere has that erotics of knowledge, communication, domination been more
attuned to the infinitessimals of Zeno's logic than in the cinema, whose every
frame is always the document of a real grasped at the moment of its disappearance.
Cinema is the art of repetition: an art of wanting, an art condemned to the cycles
of repetition. Brises will always flee, and the arrow will always pursue, and in that
dialectic of desire and its refusal, the metaphysics of want are enacted as the central,
sadistic metaphor of the central decades of our century.
The electronic video image, at its quintessence in the broadcasting of live
pictures, is a geographical medium, not a temporal one. Recording is secondary
to the ability to convert waves between electromagnetic spectra without altering
their speed. If cinema, as want, is founded on yearning for the disappearing
present, televisual need identifies with the flying arrow.
But since, in our times, broadcasting is most of all the delivery of audiences
to advertisers, of publics to governments, the central act of representation
which it makes is not of things – the vanishing real – but of the audience –
that imaginary community which disappears in the moment of its invention. That
is why we watch TV and listen to the radio so much for the plug-in drug effect:
we turn on in order to switch off. We turn on the fiction of community we need
in order to turn off the actuality which we don't.
But what then is love? I like my own voice: but liking isn't love, is not even
a prerequisite of love. What I like is that aspect of an appreciation of the
world which is achieved through an inward turn, a reference to that in the world
which is like, or is, me. What I like about the world is how it approximates to
what I like about it: I like warmth and grace and respect and … private
things, intimate things, things whose quality is to revolve around my likes.
But love, love, what is it? If liking is narcissistic, and wanting about
objects, and need is about loss, lack and absence, then love – love is about
that impossible co-presence of the represented and the real, about the presence
of the next whole number. Love is that aspect of distance that concentrates not
on the infinite but the finite – that I am not alone. Love is about the
reciprocation of desire. Love is the chance that I may be desired, be known, be
communicated with, even be dominated. Love is the opening up of the self to the
possibility of the other. Love is the invention of the future.
In cyberspace there lie the loves that can yet be unsatiated, vulnerable and
alive. The digital has the capacity to unravel the narcissistic individualism
and imperium over the real that has dominated the photo-mechanical century, but
only if we can admit and agree to change. We must now understand broadcast as
the submission of self to the fiction of community, and transmission, as it is
on the telephone, as the admission of intimacy in a pseudo-intimate geography.
With the internet, that intimacy, as self-revelation, is broadcast so that the
fiction of community can be lived out: television, only more so. The state, as
it is, of the world-wide web is of broadcast intimacy, a community of fictive
In 1957, Andre Bazin said 'The cinema has not yet been invented.' In the mid-90s,
Television has yet to emerge from radio and cinema. Despite fifty years of
evolution, computer media are still in nappies. Here we are, heading towards a
further techno-cultural disjuncture: from the analogue photomechanical
chronology of whole moments, each one of which, like a film frame, is whole and
entire unto itself, into the digital spatialisations of scanning, pixelisation
and interlacing, in which each image is a mass of fragments, whose appearance
and disappearance are never distinguishable from the images that precede and
follow it. This Brises always knows that she is, always experiences herself as,
transfixed and transfigured by the arrow of another's desire. Love is not: love
is what it may become in the embrace of an Other.