How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways
If Àlain Badiou, greatest living French philosopher—according to his compatriots—writes a book called In Praise of Love, wouldn’t you pay attention?
I did. After all, aren’t the French also famed as some of the world’s greatest lovers (after the Spaniards, Italians, and Brazilians, maybe)? Besides, he’s in his late 70s—which means he’s wise—and he’s a writer/novelist and a sometime actor—which means he’s in touch with his feelings. Don’t all those add to Monsieur Badiou’s credibility as an authority on love?
In any case, I had to read this profound little book, dense with meaning and implications in its 90 pages. The title was borrowed from a movie released in 2001 by famous French director Jean-Luc Godard in which Badiou did a turn that might have been cut out of the final film. I have read the book twice, but still have not fully grasped all that it’s trying to say. Maybe, the vagaries of love are too complex to contain in any one book. It was also originally in French (Éloge de l’amour, published in 2009 by Flammarion, in hardcover) so something might have been added, lost, or reimagined in the English translation (2012). Or, maybe, it’s just the way of the philosopher to sound deep and abstruse.
But I am with Monsieur Badiou. I believe in love and agree with his thinking on it. Love is at the heart of the books I write—as one of the themes and as a necessity for the work that goes into creating books.
We are all, in our idiosyncratic ways, preoccupied with love issues—either as firm believers or as skeptics for whom love is, at best, an illusion that doesn’t last. Or, worst, as atheists for whom love is merely a veneer for sexual desire and who, therefore, Read more »