I want to return to the subject of love. I had a proposal accepted for a conference and the subject/theme is love.

My proposal is going to explore Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club and Invisible Monsters as modern day love stories.

What I mean by that is that love, as the previous post discusses, is usually conceived of as a “who” or a “what” (this is what the Derrida youtube piece discusses). In Palahniuk, though, there is no who or what that falls in love, nor is there ever a clear-cut definition (a satisfactory definition) about love. Old fashioned love stories usually conceive of love as a thing to be “won.” Love in many of these artificial stories is presented as a person who “finds” what he/she has been looking for all his/hers life. And I wonder where did this conception come from? Since Plato’s dialogues (specifically The Symposium), Socrates tells us that love is not about this “thing” that is supposed to complete me in some way. This is the idea that Zizek critiques in the previous post– this idea of  ‘I love you all or nothing’– which makes love an objectified thing. It totalizes love.

In Palahniuk, though, there are these characters without a fixed identity. In Fight Club, the unnamed narrator (let’s call him Jack, as in “I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise”), has no fixed identity as we learn that he is both the narrator and Tyler; also, love is never fixed nor defined. Marla tells Jack at the end, “It’s not love or anything but I think I like you.” (Citation needed- it is towards the end…).

In Invisible Monsters we have the same basic concept. Shannon ends up loving Shane so much that she gives Shane her identity, and Shane never really had an identity as he continually changes “who he “is.””

These two examples are a more ethical love; one that does not fixate on a who or what that goes away when that who or what changes.

Love, then, is like bearing witness. Derrida talks about bearing witness in Sovereignties in Question. There Derrida states how poetic language doesn’t claim to accurately portray the event. I am overly simplify his argument here because I am writing this as my students are in a library session, and I am almost out of time.

The best way to talk about love is through this poetic language: “It’s not love or anything, but I think I like you.” If Marla says “This is love,” then she has totalized love and claimed to have grasped it. The “this is” pigeon holes “what” love is– as if it is a thing to have. Palahniuk shows how his characters make no direct claim to “have” love.

Another fragment– my time is up.