the evil genie of passion (1990)

about love you can say anything, but you dont know what to say. love exists, and that’s about it. you love your mother, god, nature, a woman, little birds and flowers: the term, become the leitmotif of our deeply sentimental culture, is the most strongly emotional one in our language, but also the most diffuse, vague, and unintelligible. compared to the crystalline state of seduction, love is a liquid, even gaseous solution. everything is soluble in love, by love. the revolution, the dissolution of all things into a passionate harmony or a subconjugal libido, love is a kind of universal answer, the hope of an ideal conviviality, the virtuality of a world of relations in fusion. hate separates; love unites. eros is what binds, couples, conjugates, foments associations, projections, identifications. “Love one another.” who ever could have said: “Seduce one another”?

I prefer the form of seduction, which maintains the hypothesis of an enigmatic duel, of a violent solicitation or attraction, which is a form not of response, but of challenge, of a secret distance and perpetual antagonism that allows the playing out of a RULE — I prefer this form and its pathos of distance to that of love and its pathetic rapproachment. I prefer the dual form of seduction to the universal form of love.

(Heraclitus: it is the antagonism of the elements, beings and gods which compises the game of becoming, not a universal solvent, or an amorous co-fusion–here the gods affront and seduce each other; and love, when it comes along with Christianity as the principle of creation, will put an end to this great game.)

it is possible to speak of seduction because it is a dual and intelligible form, while love is a universal and unintelligible one. It may be even that only seduction is truly a form, while love is only the diffuse metaphor of the fall of beings into individuation and the compensatory invention of a universal energy that would incline these beings to each other. By what providential effect, by what miracle of will, by what stroke of theatre would beings have been destined to LOVE one another, by what crazy imagination could one conceive that “i love you”, that people love each other, that we love each other? here we are dealing with the wildest projection of a universal principle of attraction and equilibrium, pure phantasmagoria. Subjective phantasmagoria, modern passion par excellence.


This elevation of love to the highest level of divine right, to an ethical form of universal fullfillment (love still serves everywhere as a moral justification for happiness), has thrown seduction into a vaguely immoral, vaguely perverse zone, a form of playing preliminary to love. love remains the only serious or sublime finality, the only possible absolution for an impossible universe. any concern with providing seduction with other titles of nobility runs up against mechanisms of sublimation and idealization which are those of love.

seduction is linked not to affects but to the fragility of appearance; it has no model and seeks no form of salvation–it is therefore immoral. it obeys no morality of exchange. it is based rather on the pact, the challenge and the alliance, which are not universal and natural forms, but artificial and initiatory ones. it is therefore frankly perverse.

love is the end of the rule and the beginning of the law. it is the beginning of a disorder where things will be ordered according to feeling, affective investment, that is to say, a heavy substance, heavy with MEANING, and no longer according to the play of signs–a lighter substance, more ductile, more superficial. god is going to love his own, which he had never done, and the world will no longer be a game. we have inherited all of this–and love is only the effect of this dissolution of rules and of the energy liberated by this fusion.

the form opposite to love would then be observance: wherever a rule and a game are reinvented, love disappears. compared to the regulated and highly conventional intensities of the game or the ceremony, love is a system of freely circulating energy. it is therefore charged with a whole ideology of liberation and free circulation; it is the pathos of modernity.

the distinctive quality of a universal passion like love is that it is individual and that everyone finds himself alone in it. seduction is dual: i cannot seduce if i am not already seduced, no one can seduce me if he is not already seduced. no one can play without another–that is the basic rule–while i may love without being loved in return. i love without being loved, that’s my problem. if i don’t love you, that’s your problem. if someone doesn’t please me, that’s his problem. this is why jealousy is like a natural dimension of love while it is foreign to seduction–the affective bond is never absolutely sure, whereas the pact of signs is without ambiguity and without appeal. furthermore, to seduce someone is not to invest him [e.g with meaning] , nor to absorb him psychologically; seduction does not know this territorial jealousy that goes by the name of love.

(emphasis added  130-135, fatal strategies, jean baudrillard, 1990)