LRO 295: Lemebel: Writing as a Way of Love


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

(Leonard Cohen, The Partisan)

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LRO 295
12th May 2021


Lemebel: Writing as a Way of Love

Joaquín Carrasco

Image credit: "Las dos Fridas" (1989; Pedro Lemebel and Francisco Casas) by Pedro Marinello. Further details at:

“I don’t think I was born for love, I invent love for others”, says Pedro Lemebel after referring to a time characterized by the hope of a political project – Unidad Popular in Chile – in connection with his hope to find love. This is one of the reflections we find in “Lemebel” (2019)[1], a documentary directed by Joanna Reposi that shows fragments of the life and work of the writer, chronicler and plastic artist.

It gives an account of how Pedro Lemebel vindicates those who were left at the edges of society, through art and using his body as a means of expression. The commitment he had to poor people who weren’t receiving the benefits of the economic development, left behind by the consumer party. Also with those beaten by the dictatorship, those who were tortured, or had disappeared, and their families. Also with those “faggots” excluded from love and from their own party mates, whom he dedicated his manifesto “Hablo por mi diferencia”.

The documentary shows us–with an atmosphere of precious intimacy–what Lemebel said about love. For instance, about the deep love he felt for his mother, especially for her voice, of which he considered to have been her heir. To speak with the body through the performance. To say with words, through writing. Lemebel never tired of saying what no one wanted to hear.

At another time, he states: “My partner is writing, I take pleasure in writing.” It is a beautiful example of how artistic production becomes a partner for a subject. In “The Partner Theory” [2], Jacques-Alain Miller develops the different versions of the partner in Lacan, highlighting that each subject plays his game with a partner. When we say ‘there’s no sexual relationship’, we point to the fact that the relationship between the subject and his/her partner is not determined beforehand. In the absence of sexual intercourse, what there is is the symptom. Indeed, any relationship with a partner is symptomatic.

Beyond the multiple forms that couples acquire, or the absence of these – diversity which we can read in his numerous productions – the subject finds enjoyment itself to be an essential partner. From this perspective, Lemebel's commitment to make himself heard is not just a matter of courage or commitment to different causes. That would be to reduce reading to the ideal. When the drive is at stake, you can do nothing else.

“I thought someone was going to love me… the times passed and no one loved me,” is one of the poetic statements he intimates. Beyond the loving (dis)encounters, time has passed, and the man who thought himself condemned to a lack of affection makes himself love through his writing for those readers dedicated to listening to what he has to say.

[1] Available at:

[2] “La teoría del partenaire”, Jacques-Alain Miller. Revista Lacaniana N°19, 2015.

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