Friday, September 19, 2008

Weekend in Colorado

This weekend, I am in Denver and Vail for the wedding of some friends of mine. Inexplicably, the couple asked me to write and read a piece for their ceremony. Even more inexplicably, I accepted. Below is the address, I will give; in many ways, it is a riff on elements of Barthes' A Lover's Discourse. This is certain to go over like a led balloon:

"Today, given the occasion, I thought it appropriate to read something about love. But after thinking about the subject, a problem became apparent: language, by its nature, is limiting in that it always leaves a space between a concept and an articulation; that space always contains an inexpressible remainder. As such, to convey a concept with language, in this case love, diminishes it by negating the remainder and leaving that concept incomplete. When one says Love is…, one does a disservice to the concept of love. Unless, of course, one says To love is to love, or To be loved is to be loved. With tautology, or self-definition, the concept is wholly explained, yet, at the same time, elusive; it attains totality, but remains absent; it is both everything and nothing. For if language intends to express love, it must betray itself. It must disregard empiricism, and embrace the inherent paradox of the tautological statement: To love is to love, and to be loved is to be loved. These statements, both simplistic and perplexing, produce, as an effect, mystery. And it is mystery that produces and maintains the love story, which Barthes wrote is “the tribute…lover[s] must pay to the world in order to be reconciled with it." By this, I take Barthes to mean that, while lovers may have recourse to a secret language that allows them to compensate for the space traditional language creates, the rest of us simply do not. The lovers, then, present us with the narrative, the love story, so as to foster communal understanding. Today is but one chapter in such a love story, a symbolic gesture toward mystery, the product of a tautological statement: a language exhausted, but a language complete: To love is to love, and To be loved is to be loved."

1 comment:

Johnny Cakes said...

As Babs Freeman would say, Jesus Christ on a popsicle stick!!!