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When they poured across the border
I was cautioned to surrender
This I could not do

(Leonard Cohen, The Partisan)
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20th February 2019

Real Love Is Love Without Piety
Marie-Hélène Brousse


You say that the “adhesive” that unites families is now love and not biology, which is what happened before.

MHB: Yes. For centuries a couple formed a family and love was something desirable but not fundamental. Now, all contemporary families, in their variety, are founded on love.

Is this better?

 MHB: Love is problematic because it is never guaranteed. For this reason many couples seek something more, which is marriage, something that we now see happening with homosexuals.

What do you think about calling their union marriage?

 MHB: It is important for them. What surprises me is that they want to get married. My generation called marriage into question because it was a paternalist or patriarchal model. The necessity of getting married did not seem important to us. But bit by bit I have come to understand why they claim the right. Love does not guarantee anything, it does not provide any permanence in the framework in which the subject lives and I believe that homosexuals claim the right to this framework, this guarantee.

Does true love exist?

 MHB: Lacan distinguishes between imaginary, symbolic and real love. Imaginary love is the love at first sight, the arrow shot,  where the other is less important because it is something of our imagination; Symbolic love was, for Freud, the love for the father; and then there is Real love, which is love without piety. It is a love that does not seek reciprocity and does not deceive itself; one knows the defects of the other but even so one loves them.

Is the couple in crisis?

 MHB: Previously the basic unit of the social relation was the family and now it is the couple, but one should understand the couple distinguishing it from sexual satisfaction. There are many forms of couple compatible with being celibate.

Lacan said that “desire is health”…

MHB: Desire implies dealing with loss, one desires what one does not have. Jouissance, in contrast, does not localise loss in a way that allows it to be used. Its only limit is overdose. Well, but some jouissance is also necessary (laughter).



Interview by Sara Carreira / Translation by Roger Litten

Issue # 6 of The Lacanian Review
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